December 1, 2016 / 1 Comment
Traditional and homely…not something you’d usually associate with Dubai restaurants, but that’s the vibe recent arrival La Môme is going for. Arriving to La Môme, I’m excited to see whether I’ll feel transported to Paris by Dubai’s latest French concept.
Red roses, velvet booths and beautiful views from the 49th floor tick a lot of boxes in the cosy and romantic categories, but it feels just a little too film set, a la Vesna (pet hate: faux brick facades really get to me). I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the vibe of the Nassima Royal – it’s a personality-free building with low ceilings, sitting in a rather depressingly 80s section of SZR. Yes, the building also houses Tresind, one of Dubai’s best restaurants, but that’s another restaurant with fantastic food that I think would have a better feel if situated in another location.
So can some fine French fare overcome the location? I can’t say the menu is making me salivate at first read – nothing in the entree section really appeals, given that I don’t eat seafood (it’s extremely seafood heavy). I also can’t understand why they refer to dinner as ‘Diner’, but lunch is just…’lunch’. I would say have consistency in the language used across your communications or you just look like you’re misspelling things (which let’s admit, is fairly standard in Dubai).
On the night we dine, we are quickly surrounded by a four-piece live band, going from table to table serenading diners. Now, normally a live band is not my cup of tea as Dubai just loves to have the volume in restaurants turned up much too loud, but these guys made even me smile. As we had some French guests dining with us, classic French songs are requested first, and executed perfectly. What surprises me however, is the wide selection of tunes we hear throughout the night around the restaurant – ‘Hey ya’ by Outkast, ‘Happy’ by Pharell…honestly, they were rather fantastic. We find out are called ‘The Presidents’ – after the just-released US Election results, this was about the only type of president I could stomach. The sad part though? We find out they were only entertaining on three days while media were dining. La Môme, you need to make a Friday brunch with ‘The Presidents’ as entertainment! They totally took the atmosphere up a notch and added a unique talking point to this venue. I’d come back if they were a regular feature in the restaurant.
Tartare de boeuf haché au couteau – 129
The original steak tartare hand cut
Pigeon entier roti et sucrines snackées – 199
Roasted pigeon, sucrine lettuce and candied shallots
Gratin Dauphinois – 35
Moelleux au caramel et beurre sale – 55
Caramel and salted butter fondant
While I might not have jumped at anything in the entree section, the Beef Tartare from the plats section saves the day. One of my all time favourite dishes, La Môme’s version was spot on and a great start to the meal. Delicious, perfectly seasoned and the green salad that accompanied was shockingly tasty. Seriously.
Impressed by round one, I found the same issue with mains – nothing really leapt off the page. I took a swing and went for the pigeon, and it proved to be another good choice. Served as two halves of a whole bird, it was a tad tricky to get the meat off the bones and a bit of a foraging mission, but the taste was great. The sweetness from the candied shallots was the perfect complement to the more bitter lettuce and rounded out the dish nicely. I loved that they used grilled lettuce in the dish, it’s such an underutilised ingredient! A rustic and hearty dish. The side of Gratin Dauphinois was stellar – insanely creamy. I definitely recommend this dish, if you can find room for sides!
Dessert was much easier to select – there was no way I was leaving the restaurant without tasting the amazing-sounding Caramel and Salted Butter Fondant. I love that they dodged the Dubai cliche, the chocolate fondant, and switched things up a little. A gorgeous toffee coloured creation arrives in its own copper pot, and the centre was insanely gooey. A spectacular fondant, it was just missing something…vanilla bean or perhaps coconut ice cream would have completed the dish and offered some contrast from all the rich fondant-y goodness.
Feeling rather full after three fantastic courses, fantastic company and great entertainment, we’re leaving La Mome satisfied. The food feels authentically French, but the surroundings are more ‘theme park version’ than ‘traditional Parisian venue’. I loved the food, once I found something that appealed off the rather stale sounding menu that is. Yes I know it’s traditional bistro food, and it’s a traditional menu – but what makes it so unique that I have to come back to this particular French restaurant for round two and then more? I love rustic French food when I’m in France – but in Dubai and at Dubai prices I want some personality injected into it – even refining the plating would go a long way. Fab food is one thing, but the prices are about 35% higher than where I feel they should be compared to other options in the market. Prices are comparable to One & Only’s STAY, which is just too high for a rustic French bistro style venue. Bistro Des Arts would be a comparable price point reference, annnnd…its prices sit at about 35% lower than La Môme. It’s certainly a venue with plenty of potential and the chef is pumping out quality fare – but I’d love to see the menu, prices and decor given some more thought. French foodies missing home (or foodies missing France) however, head to La Môme and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!