I am at a loss for words on where to begin this post. The experience I had at *La Serre located in downtown Dubai at the new and improved Vida (formerly Qamardeen) hotel last week went way beyond my culinary expectations. Izu Ani, the executive chef and owner of this restaurant concept is one of the most hard working and creative individuals I have ever met. He has brought forward a new standard for food and beverage in this city, and plans to keep out doing himself every opportunity he gets.
*The meaning of the word La Serre is taken from the 12th century Medieval Latin word communia: a large gathering of people sharing a common life.
Izu has been trained in classic French cuisine but does so with a touch of modern elegance. It's apparent when you step foot into this 2 story Bistro//Bar/Boulangerie/Cafe concept. He puts his stamp on everything he can get his hands on, and really takes pride with his current endeavor, a partnership he has ventured on with Dubai real estate giants Emaar. Although I see many parallels between La Serre and his former employer, La Petite Maison, Izu says that after 25 years of experience in the industry, Mediterranean/French Niciose cuisine is his passion and signature trademark.
To begin the evening we were presented with these farm fresh carrots, a wedge of lemon and sea salt. A simple and refreshing way to start a meal. As we nibbled and perused the menu, there were far too many dishes to choose from. Each menu item was better than the next, with ingredients that had been imported from the best resources across the globe. Although it's not necessarily environmentally friendly or sustainable, the commitment to providing a top notch meal was all that mattered here.
On this particular evening, my guests and I ate to our hearts content. Each menu item delivered on its promise, but I have only highlighted the best of the best here (and only what I could capture on camera before everyone started digging in)
gremolata, allowed all the ingredients to pop, no doubt this was a popular item at the table that evening.
Romesco sauce. This was our second octopus dish for the evening, which was a display of a different cooking technique as well as flavor profiles. The octopus in both dishes was cooked perfectly, it really depends on personal preferences of course. The Provencal style Octopus was slow poached (perhaps in olive oil) and garnished with a garden of fresh herbs and oven dried tomatoes. The gorgeous roasted pepper sauce was so unbelievably full of flavor, I could have licked that skillet clean! Instead I ended up sopping up whatever was left over with a thick slice of bread, I guess it was the civilized thing to do:)
Under the pasta offerings was the infamous truffled rigatoni. Althoughh we are not in peak truffle season at the moment, one of my guests insisted on ordering this delectable dish. The cream sauce was smooth and the pasta was cooked al dente, with the thinly shaved summer truffle on top, you couldn't imagine anything tasting better than this. I can safely put this in the Mediterranean comfort food category. It's one of those dishes that brought a smile to everyone's face upon first bite
Rum Baba was next to arrive at the table along with the Tiramisu (pictured in the back). Both were equally tasty but it's difficult to compare the two. The Baba is a yeast cake saturated with rum and sugar topped with cream and served with a passion fruit coulis. The Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert made with egg yolks and Masacarpone cheese, espresso, lady fingers,and cocoa. They both stood out in their own right, so it comes down to personal preference on which you prefer. I went with both!