Drive & Dine: 2 eateries every car enthusiast needs to try in Dubai

A visual and verbal taste of the local car and motorcycle-inspired cafes and restaurants in the city

By George Kuruvilla

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Intersect By Lexus
Intersect By Lexus

Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 5:26 PM

The love that the people of Dubai have for cars, bikes, and anything with wheels is immense. And over the years we have seen the city’s motoring scene grow, with everything surrounding the automobile gaining fandom such as car clubs, exhibitions, museums, and eateries; with a new one popping up every month or so. To chronicle this movement, we have decided to check out some of the car and bike-inspired cafes, bistros, and restaurants this cosmopolitan city has to offer.

In our first take, we place the spotlight on two diametrically opposite culinary spots, ‘Intersect By Lexus’ which is one for the smart-casuals-adorning folk and the other is the denim-and-sneaker-welcoming Flat12 Café.

Intersect By Lexus

Located in the heart of the city, ‘Intersect By Lexus’ is a sparkling jewel of a space within the monolithic architectural surroundings of DIFC, and as the name suggests it is an intersection of the Lexus brand’s art and technology theme and a venue to congregate in the name of food. You walk into a space that is surrounded by highly textured surfaces, with 3D waves overhead, golden walls with Lexus’ characteristic spindle grilles “written” all over it, and fishbone-style parquet flooring; which together creates a rich, but visually balanced environment under the neo-retro chandeliers and diffused lighting. The well-laid-out arrangement of tables has pillars of miniature libraries separating them with a 7-person bar counter as well.

The highlight, however, is the basement-level garage, with a glass floor that discloses a deliberate and artful littering of car parts in white monochrome, which is intended as an area for holding “global fashion shows, product launches and motivational future talks”. And let’s not forget, the wall of diecast model cars (possibly in the thousands) that lead the way to the washrooms. The menu caters to the Southeast Asian palette and serves up fusion dishes with a Japanese slant using organic ingredients and is great for lunchtime business catchups or dinnertime intimacies. And it surprisingly costs a tad less than a pretty penny, considering it is frequented by bankers and financial types and the fact that it fits within the fine dining spectrum.

There is plenty of in-complex parking and the staff was all smiles in uniforms. If anything was amiss, it was the live entertainment. The professional who sang Billboard’s favourite tunes missed a note more often than not, and maybe the waiters, who have to be otherwise commended for their exemplary service, could have been a tad more informed. If you are Japanese and nostalgic about food, I suggest you fly home to Mom’s cooking. But if that’s too much of an ask, your next best thing is to plan a sit down with a friend or fan (motoring fan) at Intersect.

Flat12 Cafe

For a more casual outing, you can drive down to Flat12 Café, which is located along the docks in the Port Rashid area. This is a bit of a hidden gem within the city for those who don’t navigate social media channels. The warehouse turned café was apparently amongst the first modern depositories for Dubai for global import back in the day. This setting that boasts high ceilings and generously distanced seating is only a café by name but serves restaurant-calibre food and beverage and doubles as a venue for hosting motoring activities also. In fact, the global reveal of the 2023 Range Rover Sport was organised here, and members of car clubs often collect here too. Very often special editions and vintage vehicles are temporarily enshrined here within its walls for public viewing.

We got chatting with Mohammed, one of the two friendly owners, who was kind enough to give a low down on the heritage of the space and how they put it all together. He also told us how Flat12 Café supports local SMEs by letting them take up the space for free to showcase their products, as was the case when we were present, with an abaya and accessories company occupying a section of the site. Sit yourself down on sofas or on dining furniture surrounded by curated car-related wall posters and curios; and enjoy an eclectic menu that can draw a mixed crowd and leave no one unhappy. The burrata flatbread starter was sumptuous but go easy on the superb milkshakes, to keep space for the entrees.

The service, however, was found a tad wanting, but the big plus is that there is plenty of parking. And so, if you are looking for a casual catchup besides the usual i.e., having karak on the curbs, or are a supporter of home-grown businesses with a definitive automotive slant, say yes to a meal at Flat12 Café amidst the showroom of specials (cars) after a game of padel ball, right next door.

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