This coffee shop in the city doubles up as an art sanctuary

...where time slows down and you get a chance to absorb the arts


Purva Grover

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Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 12:08 AM

It’s an alley and we’re walking under the thatched roof with bougainvillaea vines as the backdrop. Outdoors, we’re divided between wanting to sit down on the wicker swing and chair, with the ‘seating’ choices including a rugged piece of furniture carved out of wood, wearing a raw, rustic aroma. I’m smitten by the alley (backside) of Comptoir 102, Beach Road, Jumeriah, Dubai. You may call Comptoir, a place to indulge in a healthy meal, or even a concept store, bringing together elements of fashion, interiors and furniture. I’d like to call it an art sanctuary, for here time slows down, and what you breathe in is the arts, and only the arts, from the platters to the walls, and beyond.

It goes without saying that I was pulled to the place because of the arts and call it sheer luck at the time of our visit, the café was hosting a pop-up exhibition, featuring four artists (few of the works are still there), who were part of the recently concluded Art Dubai 2022, Middle East’s leading international art fair. Join me for a quick tour and bite.

Intrigued by the enigmatic abacus-inspired works on Lokta paper (made from the bark of the bush, Daphne Papyrus), I spent a couple of minutes staring at the composition of lines and dots dotting the walls here. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Catherine Danou’s works are an invitation to head on to an inner journey, to meditation, to the contemplative observation of beauty and simplicity. The monochromatic palette is a contrast to Japanese artists Naomi Katsu’s watercolour works created with Japanese ink, alternating superimpositions and transparencies of colours. Naomi’s art is like stepping into a poetic and spiritual world, aiding the understanding and acceptance of the innate uncertainty of life.

Before you reach your table to order a meal, selecting from the standard menu or the day’s special, you can make stopovers to admire the trinkets, furnishing items, and more by home-grown brands. Other than the pop-up displays, art is what dominates the aesthetics here. Don’t be surprised if you start to wish this is how you’d like to dress up your home, including the sign that reads — Laptop-free area until 3 pm! The wicker lampshades, the green touches, and the industrial bulbs only add to the airy feel of the space. And yes, everything is for sale, offering you a chance to indulge in an organic meal and support the local art scene. I’d return to devour their Mezze Platter with Mutabal, Hummus, and Guacamole served with our homemade parathas. The Walnut Pita made up of whole wheat fresh pita bread with crushed walnuts, tomato, cucumber, avocado, spring onions and tahini dressing too, single-handedly, can convince me to eat the combination over each meal.

The space resonates with messages, for instance, artist Sophie Agullo’s ceramic pieces are her love note to the ocean, playing with the sandy texture, mineral tines and wavy handles. Thought of as little families, each of her collections is meant to grow and the pieces can be mixed to create your clan. Want to wear and carry art along with you, then Alexandra Senes shirts, bags, and more representative of elusive places — maps, rough sketches and coordinates — would work for a cherished memory. She uses vintage shirts its canvas, and embroidery on bags to allow you to discover the world as an ultimate luxury.

By the time, you’d finished relishing your vitamin-packed (using locally sourced fruits and vegetables; I went in for a delightful combination of watermelon, coconut water, rose water, and strawberry. Just the sight of it calmed my stressed nerves.) juice, your heart would have found its new, relaxed rhythm and a harmony with your body, soul and environment.

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