Nonetheless the highlight of any restaurant is the food, which always comes before the decor and La Porte des Indes has delivered that with a very bold statement. Chef Vishal Rane, who I first met at Taste of Dubai 2014 while I was moderating the Kenwood Cooking School, takes pride in his menu. He has perfected the execution of these classic restaurant dishes. Considering ingredients and the local palette, the menu has stayed true to the original concept with a few minor adjustments here and there.
As an amuse bouche we were served this little gram flour fritter topped by a dollop of green chutney and a generous serving of tamarind chutney garnished with micro greens. The plating was modern, but the flavors remained ethnic. The crispy exterior of the fritter had the perfect crunch factor for this flavorful little bite.
Next up we were served the Souvenirs des Indes, a selection of the house's best starters and grilled items. Starting from the left we have the tandoori seared foie gras, served on a honey naan bread with a fig and ginger chutney, next the Achari Salmon, rolled in mustard, fennel, chillies, and aniseed, nestled right next to that was a grilled king scallops with a hint of garlic in a mild saffron sauce, and lastly the Barra Lamb Chop, marinated with browned onions, yoghurt and garam masala. There was enough color, texture, and variety of proteins on this plate to keep us occupied for sometime. Tasting each item after the next with it's own distinct aroma and flavor profile, Chef Vishal made sure we experienced the BEST of what this restaurant had to offer.
The stand out item here was the salmon, cooked to a tender stage with that slightly charred exterior I love so much The flavor explosion of spices in contrast to the natural fattiness of the fish was memorable, but not overwhelming. The lamb chop was also cooked wonderfully to a medium temperature, which you will hardly find at most Indian restaurants. The heavy coating layered on top if the chop although full of flavor, was so intense, it dulled the taste of the lamb. Some prefer the "masala" factor over the meat, but if the cut of meat happens to be a good quality lamb chop, I would prefer a hint of spice to compliment this already delicious protein.
Now if that wasn't enough, my guests and I still had to tackle the main course, which we weren't ready to shy away from. After seeing the preparation of the Crevettes Assadh by Chef Vishal Rane at Taste of Dubai , I knew I wanted to try the real deal made in his restaurant kitchen. The succulent tiger prawns simmered in a mild coconut curry with green mangoes, tumeric, chillies and ginger represented this unique cuisine elegantly. The sauce was beautifully balanced, I could have had it as a soup. Instead I came close to licking the plate clean with every last morsel of naan I could find on the table.
Served along side the prawns was the Policha Meen a grilled sea bass marinated with green pepper, garlic and shallots, enveloped in banana leaves. This is an original recipe from the house of Mme Blanc, the “Grande Dame” of Pondicherry. With so much history and thought behind this restaurant, the sentiments and emotion can be felt through each of these menu items, especially this one. The seasoned fish was flaky and packed a punch as did almost everything else we tasted this evening.
After our decadent meal, came this elaborate dessert tasting plate. From a ras malai cheesecake to a belgian dark chocolate mousse plus a pistachio kulfi and last but not least a mango creme brulee, we were spoiled for choice. Although I could only manage to take a single bite of each item, the most memorable would have to be the pistachio kulfi. Cool and creamy, this was a smooth rendition of this classic south asian sweet treat.
In summary, the evening at La Porte des Indes was truly a remarkable experience. The warm hospitality I felt upon entering to the passion behind the food has made a mark in the culinary scene of Dubai. Although the price points are a tad on the higher side, you get what you pay for with generous portions and prompt service.