Does Boulud's new Dubai eatery live up to his two Michelin Stars?
French cuisine in an ancient Egyptian setting at Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk
WAFI and ancient Egypt: the Dubai leisure complex and bygone civilisation share an enduring partnership. To UAE residents, that pyramid looming over the bridge as you make your way back from the airport is as iconic a welcome home as Alexandria’s lighthouse must have been to past seafarers.
Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, the latest addition to the area, is very much in keeping with the aesthetic. Aside from the structure’s architectural shape, swathes of gold and hieroglyphs adorn the vast lobby. A presidential suite is even named after the Nile nation’s most notoriously decadent Ptolemaic queen. However, this is a Sofitel property after all so nods to arguably Europe’s most luxuriously inclined country, France, are unavoidable and most welcome. Like the Egyptian influences found at Paris’ Louvre, the two cultures meld well. Which brings us to SDTO’s (as nobody will ever call it) French culinary jewel in its Nebu crown, double Michelin-Starred Daniel Boulud’s eponymous eatery.
Strolling into a gargantuan dining room that wouldn’t have looked wholly out of place on the set of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1963 Cleopatra epic felt rather apt. The uplit white pillars, tall ceilings and suspended lamps evoked a grandness we haven’t witnessed in a while. The marble floor and wooden accents, not to mention French staff and brasserie menu, added the necessary Gallic splash.
Boulud’s stock in trade is high-end bistro fare with a hint of the rustic and his first UAE venture sets out this particular stall with aplomb. To start: crevettes au romarin or rosemary grilled king prawns with squash, tomatoes, and smoked paprika butter. The first dish matched the ambience. Arriving in cast iron cookware, with three pieces of seafood perfectly stacked atop the vegetables, it resembled a final shot from a cooking show. What the starter’s presentation boasted it unfortunately lacked in a complete knockout zesty punch. The elements were fresh and well prepared and the overall flavour appealing, though perhaps our expectations were set a tad high as a result of the outlet’s aura.
Yet, fear not because any presuppositions were not only met but completely blown out of the water by the proceeding courses. A main comprising genuinely the greatest duck leg confit we have ever tasted will have us crawling back to Oud Metha for another bite if needs must. Perched upon a bed of lentils, kale and root vegetables, surrounded by a moat of jus, this utter triumph has to be top of your Dubai dining wish list before the year is out. Round it off with an expertly baked saffron pear pistachio tarte and you’ll no doubt leave resembling the Sphinx that got the cream.
> Where: Brasserie Boulud
> Best Dish: Duck leg confit
> Av. Cost pp: Dh280