Snugly located at Nshama Town Square along Al Qudra Road in Dubai, there’s a nice little place, Caya, a ‘homegrown neighbourhood eatery that celebrates the simple pleasures in life’. They focus on three ‘Fs’ — family, food and fun. The Alabbar Enterprises brand greets you with tones and aesthetics from the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. It’s not elaborately decorated but has a warm feel and uses a limited set of colours — primarily, white and tones of brown — but the consistency and minimalist effect in both indoor and outdoor sections work pretty well.
There’s a wide variety of choices on the menu, with breakfast items extended until 3pm on weekends. But the amazing part about the whole experience is how the food tastes so light yet still delivers full-bodied flavour; in particular, the oven-baked sea bass with lemon-mint couscous and ratatouille, kale caesar salad and avocado benedict. If you want something more action-packed, items like the mushroom risotto — love the burst of those pink paprika sprinkles — and homemade lasagna are go-tos. And boy, you can indeed taste the uniqueness of the homemade pasta.
Sweets are always welcome treat, and we went for the Nutella tiramisu and mango cheesecake. Both had that zest, but the former just had that X-factor: we’ve tried many a tiramisu, but Caya’s version just had that refreshing explosion that just melts in your mouth. You should’ve seen our faces while we fought for the last speck of it.
And Caya indeed lives up to its family-friendly mantra, because just a few metres from it is a children’s playground where — let’s face it — even adults can hang out and take a few swings and slides. Why not sweat it out a bit over there then hop back to Caya and indulge in some of their smoothies, which are light yet refresh you nonetheless, thanks to its carefully-curated flavour combos. It’s as if being at the right place came so pure — which is, by the way, what ‘caya’ means in Greek.
MAY WE RECOMMEND…
The sea bass and lasagna, while downing it with peanut butter bliss and blueberry gem smoothies. Throw in that lip-smacking tiramisu for good measure.
Taste (4.5/5): You’ll feel its homemade goodness, and as light as most of the food tastes, it still packs a punch. Ingredients done in-house will always have that advantage, so freshness is guaranteed.
Ambience (4/5): True to its coastal tones, it feels like one of those beachfront spots, and the natural daylight brightens up the mood. We’re also quite sure that at night, it’s a cozy place that can set a little romantic tone.
Service (4.5/5): Considering everything’s homemade, it’s marvelous. All our orders came in about 10 minutes. Shout out to our server Kel for the intra-meal chit-chats and for everyone’s smiles.
Presentation (4/5): Going with the minimalistic approach, there’s nothing particularly fancy when everything’s plated up, just a good old simple way of introducing your appetite to a good meal.
Covid-consciousness (4/5): Nothing’s on the squeaky-clean tables except for a bottle of hand sanitiser, meaning everything else has very minimal exposure. Spacing between them is also reasonable, though their indoor children’s playpen could use a little expansion.