February 16, 2016 / Leave a Comment
The first question you might ask is, “What is ‘Intersect by Lexus'”?
Well, it’s one better answered by walking through the doors of the restaurant and settling in at a cosy table, but I’ll do my best to explain. In someways, it might be easier to first tell you what it is not – a car showroom. Yes, it is a Lexus branded concept, and yes, there is a beautiful glimmering concept Lexus in prime position below you as you walk in, but auto dealership it is definitely not.
Intersect has been described by Lexus creators as the ‘third space’, one that is a place you spend your time when you are between home and work. I’ll admit I didn’t know what to make of this statement before visiting, but the more time I spent at Intersect, the more it became clear. So many elements of this restaurant come into play in creating this very unique, cosy, cocooning atmosphere that invites you to stay just a little while longer. The smooth tunes and acoustics provided by the wall and ceiling design features…the sumptuous leather used to create the wall bench seating (the same as used in Lexus cars I’m informed), the little pillows that fit just right in the small of your back…before you know it you’ve eased back into the seat and started to make yourself at home. From the ‘living room’ vibe and privacy afforded by the bookcase structures and intimate 56 cover dining room, to the warm, welcoming staff who are all passionate about their piece in the Intersect puzzle, from Sommelier to Barista – it has a certain something that feels very much it’s own.
The space feels like it is a living organism that has it’s own rhythm as it moves from bright day into dusky late afternoon into moody evening in a way that is rather unique. It seems no detail here is an afterthought – the beautifully crafted salt and pepper grinders, the wall features that reflect the signature Lexus grill, the 1452 miniature cars that line the space age bathroom walls, all of these unique features come together to showcase contrasting design themes of technology and nature. It’s rather amazing that I can say so much about this venue without even touching on the food yet – so yes, Intersect by Lexus is first and foremost a restaurant – but perhaps not as you know it in Dubai.
Let’s get on to the food without further ado. In my mission to cross every business lunch in DIFC off my list, we plunge into the 3 course offering with aplomb. At only 110dhs for three courses including water service it’s great value (strangely we were actually charged additionally for the water service when we dined – but for unlimited sparkling water we didn’t mind too much). We are informed that the menu changes regularly so you’ll easily find an excuse for a return visit.
At Intersect they are passionate about organic, quality produce (and have the same ethos when it comes to the wine also). This is healthy, happy food that carries on the theme of nature and craftsmanship, under the expert guidance of Chef Tomas Reger (the whiz behind Bloomie’s Kitchen and Lime&Tonic’s famed Secret Suppers). Word is he beat out some very stiff competition for the Executive Chef role and the hard work Lexus put into to ensuring they have exactly the right fit of talent for the venue has paid off. His food feels so effortless but yet so meticulously thought out at the same time – a perfect fit for it’s surrounds.
To start we were delighted to see an amuse bouche winging it’s way to our table – they say good things come in small packages and I think that’s usually never truer than when it comes to the amuse bouche!
Today’s treat was labneh and carrot on dehydrated linseed crackers – sounds way too healthy to be delicious, but it was such a delight. I could eat this every day. From this very first taste, subtle earthy tones resonate in the dishes and give you the space to detect interesting individual pops of flavours and ingredients. This hit me straight away in my appetiser – the Cauliflower Soup with Savoury Granola. The pops of coriander seed were so clear and identifiable and such a great contrast to the smooth and mellow soup.Delicious!
Perhaps I would have liked the savoury granola a little more toasted for the crunch to last in the soup, and I struggled to eat the mustard cress delicately with a spoon, but it was a great start to the meal and was well complimented by the breads served to the table. Let me pause for a moment and touch on these briefly – I think it’s some of the best bread I’ve been served in Dubai. The white mini baguette in particular is what defines bread that is worth it’s weight in carb guilt! Paired with walnut oil and top notch olive oil, these breads were right on the money.
Next we tried the Slow Cooked Venison with Jerusalem Artichokes, Confit Egg Yolk and Coffee Jus, and the Wagyu Tri Tip with Exotic Mushrooms. Both lovely dishes but the latter was the standout for me. The umami quotient as just so massive while being so soft and subtle overall also. Tri tip is such a great cut and it was handled well here and cooked just the way we like it at medium rare. The gentle black bean jus and mix of sautéed Eryngii, Shimejii Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms was so moreish. If I could be so cheeky as to ask for anything more it would have been a creamy puree hidden under the layers of these dishes to compliment the silky sauces.
For dessert we had a White Chocolate Cheesecake with Apricot and Passionfruit and a Lichu Hazelnut Chocolate Cake with Single Origin Ganache, Salted Caramel Sauce and Hazelnut Cream.
Both of these were delicious and amazing value on the a la carte menu at 35dhs each. The deconstructed cheesecake was so refreshing – the apricot and yoghurt gave a great sour kick for balance and the textures were so creamy and smooth. The plating of the dish really reminded me of the amuse bouche and I felt it was a great bookend visually on the meal. On the other end of the sweet spectrum was the chocolate and hazelnut dish – this one is one for dessert lovers and chocoholics! Very decadent, the pops of salt really added so much to this dish. The hazelnut cream had a texture that was so unusual and wonderful.
Even the coffee is sourced with much thought here, and handled with just as much deference. We are given an option of Guatemalan or Mexican and informed how the beans will taste different even day to day with changes in environmental factors such as humidity. I had no idea there was so much science that went into the perfect brew! After choosing the Guatemalan bean I was delivered a delicious cappuccino made with full fat imported French milk (I was told it has a superior creamy taste – and I agree). Usually I put sugar in my coffee when dining out but this was so sweet and soft by itself it was unnecessary. Although I’d like it to have been a little bigger so I could have enjoyed it for longer, I feel like I’ve finally found coffee that’s to my personal taste.
Less than 24 hours later I found myself back at Intersect, enjoying more of that smooth sweet coffee. The surroundings felt even more homely, the welcome even more warm. Somehow I think I’ve found my ‘third space’. You’ll be seeing me soon.