Food review: Alfresco provencal magic at DRIFT Dubai
Beach club offers a slice of the Cote d'Azur on UAE shoreline
“I wanna get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away…” While traversing the serene, exotic tree-lined path leading from the furthest right of the One & Only Royal Mirage’s many entrances to the slice of the Mediterranean that is DRIFT Beach, humming the Dobie Gray classic was inescapable. Not only do the lyrics mention the establishment’s name (just call me John Peel), but the track’s easy-breezy spirit perfectly accompanies the beach and pool club restaurant’s vibe. Even if you haven’t been, you could probably conjure up a pretty close image of DRIFT’s indoor-outdoor dining room. Befitting its European contemporaries, a calming white and turquoise colour scheme is accented by driftwood furniture and wicker ornaments. Where it differs from St. Tropez and Cannes, though, is with the view. An orangey sunset glow bouncing off the Marina’s glass skyscrapers in the distance gives the establishment an element every similar outlet craves: uniqueness.
DRIFT’s kitchen is only open for sit-down evening meals Wednesday to Saturday between 7pm and 11pm, which also ticks another fashionable essential ingredient: exclusivity. Make sure you book for tonight, because the chef is knocking out dishes rarely found in these parts, especially set against such an in vogue backdrop. Starters including La Pissaladiere (caramelised onions and anchovies on a baked dough base) are a must for those searching for a true taste of the southern French coastal region, not to mention the tuna tartare which is certain to get you in the mood along with a black truffle pizza we’re reliably informed is a best-seller. Our table plumped for the somewhat richer La Coquille: a delightful blend of mixed seafood gratin with béchamel served in a large scallop shell and veal carpaccio adorned with parsley sauce and a balsamic reduction. Both choices set the haute evening’s tone, the creamy heartiness of the fish dish complementing the delicate flavour of the wafer-thin tenderloin.
Cotelettes d’agneau or kunafa crusted lamb cutlets and risotto nero e branzino (balck risotto, glazed sea bass, aromatic clams and cuttlefish broth) number among some of DRIFT’s most popular mains, however again our table ventured off-piste with an order of broccolini, walnut and Parmesan Orecchiette pasta and Le Cabillaud: roasted cod with maple celeriac puree. The celeriac alone would be sufficient to tempt us back for a repeat visit. Topped with pink peppercorn and shallot vinaigrette and sat next to the perfectly prepared cod, the nuanced result was stupendous. The pasta was equally interesting although the fish definitely won out.
Price-wise, the food may have been in keeping with the super yacht lifestyle yet the bill reflected more of a weekend treat. Around Dh350 to Dh400 per head should see you through nicely.
Where: DRIFT Dubai
Best dish: Le Cabillaud
Avg. cost pp.: Dh350