Gourmet goes agricultural

 

Gourmet goes agricultural

The Farm, in Al Barari, offers Oriental, Western and Mediterranean fusion cuisine in a clean, green environment. If you’re hooked on the healthy, organic peg, look no further

By Riaz Naqvi

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Published: Fri 27 Apr 2012, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:55 PM

The abundance of restaurants and assorted eateries around Dubai often disguise the fact that, for all its glitzy fine dining options, there is a dearth of classy, yet healthy, culinary venues in the city. I don’t mean to say that there aren’t places to go for healthy food (there are many), but these often severely lack character. The Farm at Al Barari puts 
great effort into bridging this gap.

Situated opposite Global Village on Emirates Road, Al Barari is an uber-exclusive development that prides itself on offering lush green spaces and sustainable living. Green certainly comes to mind as one approaches The Farm. A winding road snakes its way through 
walls of flora and fauna, to the tune of birds chirping and a distinct feeling of Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole.

The Farm doesn’t feel quite like a restaurant. It initially strikes one that the bamboo-enveloped structure wouldn’t look out of place on a wildlife reserve in Africa; you almost expect to see a monkey pop its head from behind trees. As you enter, you pass the garden where head chef Yves J-P de Lafontaine, a native of the Seychelles, grows sage, chocolate-scented mint, rosemary and other herbs that are used in cooking. An interesting contrast to the themes of nature and greenery is how dishes are selected, and customised via iPads handed to patrons. Artfully shot images with superimposed text help to offer an in-depth understanding of what you are about to order. More importantly, says the chef, it allows The Farm to add and remove items on a daily basis, depending on what is being grown and deliveries of fresh produce coming in.

My partner and I elect to sit outdoors; it’s spring, after all. The outdoor area of The Farm is a marvel, with our table on a wooden deck suspended over a lake, and a well-maintained lawn on the other side. Before ordering, we are served a diminutive but delicious brioche topped with tomato and mushroom salsa, alongside a bread basket accompanied by olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread changes daily, according to what is prepared in The Farm’s in-house bakery.

We decided to start with one of the large selection of juices; we order lemon-mint and orange-carrot mocktails. My starter is grilled eggplant rolls, stuffed to the brim with low fat cream cheese, sun-dried tomato, roasted pepper and walnuts, while my partner embarks on a plate of grilled tiger prawns with mango, a tangy tomato salsa and miso wasabi. The eggplant rolls, despite being made from a vegetable this writer does not usually care for, prove a pleasantly unanticipated surprise, with each bite providing a satisfyingly
crunchy experience. The 
tiger prawns were reportedly juicy and my partner’s only gripe was the small size, but they combined well with the mango.

For our mains, the chef recommended corn-fed chicken thigh infused with lemon rosemary (grown in the herb garden) alongside baby turnips. I wanted something a little more heavy duty, and tucked into a 350gm grass-fed rib eye steak with baby carrots. We also ordered a grilled and oven-baked Portobello mushroom stuffed with pearl barley, feta cheese, brunoise of tomatoes and topped with a tangy orange gremolata — it went down nicely with the beef sauce accompanying my steak. The Bok Choy gratin proved tender company as well, largely thanks to “a French twist on an Asian plant” given by the Gruyere Béchamel and Parmesan topping. The steak and chicken were both cooked right, but the Bok Choy was a little tricky to work with, forcing us to throw refinement out the window as we struggled to cut it.

Dessert was a gluten-free, flourless Chocolate Delight cake topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. Again, the combination paid off rich dividends in flavour.

We’re going to come out and say it; if you’re looking to find healthy organic cuisine in a pristine, aesthetically superb environment, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat The Farm — and it’s well-worth the drive.

riaznaqvi@khaleejtimes.com

In seven words: 
Organic cuisine in Dubai doesn’t get better

  1. What we liked: The herb garden, a concept none too common here
  2. What we didn’t like: The slightly remote 
location
  3. Cost for two: Dh465
  4. Best for: 
Birthdays, anniversaries or when you really want to impress someone
  5. Did you know: 
Chef Yves runs his own farm in Seychelles
  6. Contact: The Farm, Al Barari, 04-3925660
  7. Rating *****



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