May 7, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Unexpectedly out and about very early on a weekend morning, we decided it was a good opportunity to check out a new cafe for breakfast, and having not visited Box Park yet we drove on down the road to see what it has to offer.
Breakfast is an ideal time of day to visit Box Park – for me it’s a precinct best suited to the earlier meals of the day as the entire complex is unlicensed. Sob. No champagne breakfast here! Given that it looks out on the very busy Al Wasl Rd, it doesn’t have Dubai’s best scenery, but from what we discovered, it can be a great value place to grab a bite in pretty tidy surrounds.
We chose Le Tresor, purportedly a classic car themed cafe – once we spotted a unique blue and white classic car in the parking area, we knew we were headed in the right direction. Four cars sit proudly parked around the front of the restaurant, but once inside the venue the theming was surprisingly, pretty minimal. This is a theme that is usually turned up to full volume – so to see that it wasn’t that obvious despite being in the name of the cafe was a little peculiar. Apart from two cars hanging in birdcages by the entrance and some car parts very high up above the service area, it looks like any other cafe.
Being nine o’clock on a Saturday (ok I’m having Billy Joel karaoke flashbacks, hello Harry Ghatto’s), the regular crowd had not shuffled in yet, and we were the only table dining. I think even the staff were perplexed to see diners arriving so early in the day! So early in fact that our first choice, the customisable omelette, had not yet finished being prepped so we needed to go to our second choice. Speaking of the staff, we dealt with three different staff members and all were very friendly and personable, not to mention helpful.
For me, a dish that is the house specialty apparently, Huevos Rancheros. Translated, it’s essentially eggs benedict with avocado and veal bacon. For him, the steak sandwich with a special request of two poached eggs on the side, a request that they had no problem accommodating. Nice. No extras are listed for the breakfast menu, they would be a good addition to make the dishes more customisable and provide upsell opportunities for the cafe too.
My dish, whilst fairly simple, was very well executed. All components on the plate were good quality – the english muffin was of the artisan bread type and not the supermarket value pack type – really good to see. The eggs were perfectly poached and full of oozing yolk that was a deep golden orange hue, indicating some really good quality (possibly organic?) eggs on offer here, not the sometimes strange ‘egg’ imposters you see at UAE supermarkets. His meal kept him very happy too, not a complaint in sight. The menu was well designed and they even have a sharing concept for two if you want the full breakfast experience – pastries, fruit, cold cuts and cheeses, eggs, pain perdu, juice and coffee – a nice, new idea which is rare to see in Dubai. There were some appetising sounding dishes on the lunch and dinner menu that would be worth a revisit. Seems like the chef has got things well sorted.
What was slightly strange was that some french fries we weren’t expecting (apparently these accompany the steak sandwich) arrived 5-10 minutes after the meals arrived. Once we tasted them though, we decided they were thoroughly worth the wait. These fries are unreal! I loved them and I hate french fries! Potato is one of my least liked foods, but whatever they are doing to the potato here is really levelling our starchy friend up in the taste stakes. So hot, so fresh, and nicely seasoned too. By contrast the eggs actually needed the addition of quite a bit of salt to hit the right balance for me. Speaking of seasoning, the salt and pepper shakers here are teeny weeny! Must be fun to refill those everyday. Personally I don’t like table salt and finely ground pepper – if you can’t have a pot of salt, a grinder with peppercorns and rock salt would be preferable for me – it really makes a difference to the taste in my opinion. The coffee was nice, but I’m not a coffee expert so I’ll leave the minutae to them on this one.
Prices are good. So good in fact, they are equivalent to what you’d pay for the same thing in my home, Auckland, New Zealand – that’s a first in Dubai! Oh, except the coffee. That’s at typically extortionate Dubai prices. Why is coffee so dear in this part of the world??
Ok, now the ambience and decor. The music was palatable when it was in the jazzy, latin zone, but it often ventured in to the super golden oldies…I think my Dad would have been singing along, and he’s 78 – so there’s some indication as to the era they are pulling the playlist from. Is that stuff on Spotify? Who knows…I’m not motivated to find out. Could have much more attitude and I think there are more appropriate eras to pull your soundtrack from for the audience here, classic cars or not. Again, given that the classic car theme is so subtle, it just feels like you’re listening to a rest home soundtrack.
About that classic car theme – man, they could do SO much more with it, without venturing into tacky retro Johnny Rockets territory. I’d like to see the twice the amount of interesting, elegant classic car touches, and a few other things removed. The decor doesn’t look like it was styled by a professional – it’s a hodge-podge of different styles. A veritable eton mess of interior design is on offer here, but it sadly doesn’t taste that good. Some pieces pulled from the recent industrial loft craze, some vintage styled pieces, some designer luxe inspired pieces and some basic cafe styling. I just wanted to get to work on restyling the place! The awful red lace stencil type plant pots and the plants in them need to go, the copper bag holder stools that don’t match the brass chairs and tables need to go and the brown wooden tray holders that look worse for wear and always catch your eye need to go. The black wire frame light fittings (that would be a perfect choice in many cafes but just aren’t right here) need to be replaced with a stylish retro luxe brass shades that compliment the furniture metal colour.
This cafe has good bones, good food, good service, but needs to spend some time honing it’s identity and how it’s going to differentiate itself on the cluttered Dubai cafe scene. This classic car cafe has plenty of potential – if they upgrade the bodykit (and the sounds) it might become a classic.