Walking into Forever Rose Cafe at Boxpark by Meeras, which is located near Roxy cinema at Al Wasl in Dubai, is like stepping into a fairytale world.
The monotone interiors, two-dimension illustrations, sketches, and replicas of artwork by classical painters such as renaissance artist and sculptor Michelangelo, as well as sketches of UAE leaders and other world personalities, will appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities.
The immersive black and white fantasy theme casts a spell on you, and it’s momentarily disrupted by a spot of red from the natural roses placed as centrepieces in airtight glass caskets on the tables. We were told that a special process was used to preserve the roses that stay alive for years.
From the furniture to the cutlery and crockery, everything has an aesthetic ring to it and seems to be inspired by a storybook.
The restaurant offers an all-day dining experience and serves international multi-cuisine favourites with an Arabic zing added to its breakfast, lunch, dinner and high tea.
Conceptualised by Ebraheem Al Samadi, the founder and the chief executive officer (CEO) of Forever Rose, the idea was to have a cafe, inspired by a London pop-up eatery but with a distinct Emirati identity. No wonder, all designs and styling in the restaurant are original.
“We wanted to create a unique experience with a positive vibe and a price-conscious menu, a place where everyone would feel welcome. The concept is to present and promote Emirati culture to an international audience that celebrates multi-culturism,” said Al Samadi.
Sitting inside this cosy cafe on a chilly evening, and watching the world walk past you as you dine in this uptown neighbourhood is an experience that would transport you to a bistro, perhaps, on the sidewalks of Paris.
As we settle down for the dinner, we notice a continuous stream of diners walk in, and a large section of the clientele was from the Middle East. Surely, there’s something more appealing than the Arabic-European menu that draws them to the cafe. And our guess was spot on – it’s the ambience that’s tailor-made for Instagram lovers, and, of course, the chance to have an intimate chat over a cuppa seems to be the main draw.
The menu offers an array of delectable main dishes, quick bites, a selection of classic coffees, signature lattes, desserts and a wide range of healthy choices. And if you step in for a coffee, you’re bound to be enticed by their sweet offerings such as milk cakes, pancakes, pastries and other high tea bites.
We settled down for a short and sweet three-course meal featuring Roasted Prawns and Blooming Cauliflower for starters, Lamb Ribs and Mamas Alfredo Chicken (Rigatoni pasta) for the main dish and rounding off with Umm on Toast and La Creme Brulee and washing it all down with sips of hot xpresso.
The entrees were interesting, but the cauliflower dish that combined chargrilled cauliflower, served with a Tahini sauce and pomegranate molasses was surely the pick for us – the combination of the special spices and the freshness of the cruciferous veggies were the standout.
Also the succulent grilled lamb ribs with Greek saffron yoghurt had us nibbling away at the well-marinated tender meat.
The Mama’s Alfredo Chicken was interestingly paired with chargrilled chicken and Alfredo sauce.
The desserts, as always, is the best part of any meal, and in this case, both the choices were good. It was difficult for us to decide which one was the better of the two – the La Creme Brulee was delicious without being cloyingly sweet, while the Umm on Toast gave us a chance to try out this classic Arabic dish in a fresh presentation. A bit of bitterness from the espresso following the sweetness made for a perfect rounding off a delicious treat.
Taste: It was an innovative twist to classic dishes that stood out for us. Special mention must be made of the Umm on Toast. It was our first but surely not the last experience of this popular Arabic speciality.
Ambience: A lot of time must have gone behind planning and styling such an elaborate and aesthetic interior.
Service: Friendly and attentive staff. Though the cafe is busy with a steady stream of customers, the service is on the money.
Presentation: With crockery and cutlery and the inspiring artistic setting, the presentation hardly mattered. However, each dish was well garnished and served in true bistro style.
Value for Money: A three-course meal for two will set you back Dh300 while a coffee and cake/tart for two will cost you around Dh150, but it’s worth your dirham in this far-out ambience.