A touch of purple
I joined my friend, Ishita, for lunch at the newly opened Culinary Boutique in Jumeirah. I did not know what to expect so like most places, I kept an open mind. I just knew that it showed a lot of promise, judging by the website and the photographs. The menu isn't huge but quite interesting and The space was beautiful and multi-faceted. There was a cafe feel as you entered the main reception, a small terrace, a small enclosed space for private events and parties and then the stairs led up to the culinary school segment with a cold and hot kitchens, bakery for fresh bread and cakes, an open terrace area. All in all the space was quite modern, clean and quite tasteful. After a brief introduction and chat with the owner, Hessa al Qassim who was being interviewed by Ishita for her FoodeMagDxb (so watch out for that) and a chat with Chef Pawel Viktorek (ex Zuma Dubai), we ordered lunch. The menu was quite eclectic but strongly Mediterranean with Asian influences.
Based on Hessa's recommendations, we ordered four starters: crispy tofu served with iceberg lettuce and crispy, shredded, purple potatoes (actually it turned out to be katakuriko); eggplant with sesame sauce, pistachio; burrata and beetroot salad served with rocket, pesto and parmesan; and lobster tail served with a sun-dried tomato and spicy butter sauce. The starters were absolutely delicious and, in my opinion, I could have had a lot more of that. Tofu (not something I thought I would EVER rave about) was silky smooth and according to Chef Pawel, was marinated with spices including Saikyo Miso and chilli that added an extra tangy after taste. The iceberg lettuce and cucumber were its perfect accompaniment dressed with the same marinade of the tofu. The eggplant too was a delicious combination of spices, dressed with sugar, pistachio and sesame sauce that elevated the humble eggplant into irresistible, moreish bites - highly recommended. The simple salad of fresh burrata, beetroot and rocket served with pesto and fresh parmesan was a beautiful palate cleanser before tasting the lobster tail that was smothered in the spicy butter and sun-dried tomato sauce. There was a touch of purple dressing in each of the dishes: shreds of crispy purple "potato" crisps with the first three and purple shredded cabbage with the lobster.
The main courses we ordered were the grilled Prawns served with coconut curry (apparently this was a Brazilian version that sounded like it had elements of Indian spices too) and a pulled beef brisket served on a brioche, with grilled scamorza, barbecue sauce and served with a small salad that included sour apple. The chef also sent over "corn on the cob" - a side that was to be added to the menu soon. The corn was blanched in milk infused with spices and then sauteed in a spicy butter sauce that included lemon, coriander, parsley, peppers, chilli and a few other spices including ginger and garlic.
We finished the meal with a chocolate fondant and green tea ice cream and chocolate soil - perfectly gooey inside and a great finish to a lovely lunch.
All the ingredients were fresh and imported regularly for the best quality. There were no shortcuts in the selection of the quality of the ingredients used - like the best prawns from the Indian ocean or the best lobster tails from US imported almost daily, or the freshness of the breads that are baked daily. It's not cheap (though Ishita and I did not pay for our lunch - which was rather generous of them) but then good quality ingredients aren't cheap in a country where everything (almost) is imported.
If I weren't looking for a glass of wine to go with the meal, I would go back to Culinary Boutique for a special occasion or check out the various culinary classes (they do small groups and change the sessions quite regularly) or if I wanted to plan a special occasion. Great space for a special hosted event. The place offers valet parking and, even though it's right on Beach Road (close to Dubai Zoo), surprisingly quite pleasant to sit out, especially these days. Definitely worth exploring at least once.