April 11, 2016 / 1 Comment
Venture a short distance from the Dubai mall and you’ll reach the new DIFC-style high concept industry zone, Dubai Design District, otherwise knows as D3. Home to creatives, art galleries and many soon-to-be eateries, Craft Cafe has done the smart thing and installed themselves in the compound early in the peace.
Quirky and colourful, the Craft Cafe fit out feels like a very organic addition to D3. Gleaming gold wall features, a bespoke turquoise espresso machine, and birdcage inspired light fittings replete with birds (not of the real variety) give a light and bright vibe (and if you fancy those gorgeous light shades, pop along to the boutique Comptoir 102 where I’ve spotted them for purchase – I’m SO dying for one for my house). The coffee’s pretty good too I have to say.
What I tasted:
Belgian waffle topped with slow-cooked duck, orange sauce and spring onions 48
Carrot and crispy pita, chili and chargrilled spring onion cream 32
Enoki mushrooms, mesculun lettuce, palm hearts, feisty home made teriyaki dressing 38
QUINOA VEGGIE BURGER
Quinoa patty with mixed herbs, avocado, rococo sauce and cool tzatziki 36
Skewers of beef striploin with smoky chili, garlic and oregano and sautéed potatoes 40
48 HOUR LAMB RUMP
Served with grilled bok choy and green chimichurri 56
Served with wild mushrooms, spicy aji sauce and parmesan 38
So as you can see above, I tasted a pretty wide cross section of the menu – yet there was still so much more left unexplored. Craft Cafe has a seriously comprehensive menu that will satisfy your hunger whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, something sweet or want to keep it on the healthy side. It’s a pretty impressive I have to say, and thankfully they haven’t fallen into the Dubai trap of trying to replicate every cuisine on the planet in one restaurant.
Let’s kick off with my fave dish on the menu – and one that I’m told is THE specialty – the Duck Waffle. This dish is GOOD. Seriously GOOD. It’s like my old fave ‘hang the calories’ dish – bacon, banana and maple pancakes – but on steroids. Apparently it came to life in a moment of post-clubbing, raid-the-fridge inspiration – so it’s a little rock ‘n roll too. I’d go back just to eat this dish. Crispy confit style duck atop delicious waffles with orange sauce – drool. Don’t be scared by the orange sauce like I originally was – it’s not overly sweet or overly orange. There’s also a salad on offer for duck lovers that don’t want the extra sugar.
The Beef Anticucho were another highlight – super tender meat and a delicious sauce that accompanies the skewers. I’m not a potato lover so didn’t find the accompanying spuds necessary, but I’m sure potato lovers will lap them up. The Lamb Rump also delivered very tender meat, but I needed just a touch more freshness on the plate to lighten it up enough to feel like it fits with the rest of what’s going on on the menu.
Ok – salad time. Salads can be the most boring part of the menu, but not at Craft. The Enoki Kick looks like a mad garden scientist’s project, but pour on the ‘feisty’ teriyaki dressing and damn, this is tasty. You’ll feel ridiculously healthy ingesting it too. The Kale Salad is a home run – the spring onion cream is just superb (I didn’t taste the chili mentioned in the description though) and when you encounter the chunks of pita they give an amazing crunch – this dish makes for a really great mouthful. Love this dish, I’d probably order it alongside something else to share though rather than as a main. I’d ditch the red rimmed dishes it’s served in however, as I don’t often find red enhances the appearance of food and personally I find these retro plates to feel a little on the cheap side – something that was drastically opposed by the cool silver pots with gold handles – heck I’d love those in my house, and they fit the decor perfectly.
Quinoa has a starring role in the menu, and we tried two of Craft’s takes on the still-so-hot-right-now grain. I have to say neither falls under the category of what you’d typically encounter when you order quinoa when dining out – and that’s what I loved about these dishes. Great to see some creativity on the menu that really fits with what looks to be the ethos of the venue and in line with the Design District vibe. First up, the Quinoa Burger. It’s a burger bun made from Quinoa. Mind blown. This dish tastes so freakin healthy – ok, maybe a little too healthy for me. I’d like some more saltiness, some more punch – maybe a relish and some halloumi or eggplant (or both !) and this would be a vegetarian’s dream burger. The seasoning of rest of the dishes I tasted though was on point.
Now for something sweet…
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE 20
SPICY CHOCOLATE FONDANT WITH MATCHA ICE CREAM 24
CREME BRULEE 24
So these were all delish – I have to say, it took a fair bit of willpower to stop myself stuffing my face with all three of these decadent desserts. The cheesecake was fresh and smooth, the base made with cornflakes that give a kind of snap, crackle and pop when you bite in – ok, I think that’s the wrong cereal…but definitely an accurate description. The creme brûlée was delightful with a great crack, and the raspberries were possibly the best I’ve ever tasted, they really elevated the dish. The chocolate fondant hid a surprise (ok well it’s not a huge surprise if you actually read the menu) – a big chili hit. I’m seeing a ton of chili chocolate desserts around Dubai at the moment and I’m kinda liking it. But don’t expect me to put an oozing chocolate fondant video on Instagram – if I ever see another it will be too soon! This one was accompanied by matcha ice cream – admittedly it’s a flavour that is a fave of my dining companion, but personally I can’t stand the stuff. It’s popping up on dessert lists in Japanese and Peruvian restaurants around Dubai much too often for my liking – but again, that’s personal preference. If you love it, you’re in luck!
Craft Cafe is really a hit parade of dishes – from the wide range of offerings I tasted, I think it would be pretty hard to pick something you’re not going to enjoy here. There’s plenty of passion from the hands-on team which is a great indicator of continuing quality and innovation. Being an early installation in D3, I think they’re going to have the work crowd hooked. Not to say that it’s not worth making the journey if you’re venturing from further afar and not just taking a break from your nearby desk – the food definitely warrants a visit. OH and before I go – the prices are really fab by Dubai standards! The quality delivered on the plate definitely equates to great value.
Tell the Duck Waffle I said hi.