Tasted: Café Belge, Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai
Fifteen different beers are on offer at DIFC’s latest casual dining restaurant.April 5, 2014
A classy 1920s art-deco style Belgian restaurant is not exactly what you would expect to find buried in the depths of the swish Ritz-Carlton DIFC hotel. But simply by walking though the restaurant’s metallic gates you feel as if you’re being swept away to another time, place and country.
The long bar, exposed metal fixings, polished marble flooring and banquette seating captures the classic Grand Café feel that was so popular in Brussels in the 1920s. The venue also has an outdoor seating area where 20 smaller tables are scattered, making it a perfect dining spot for the last few weeks before the heat of summer hits.
There is a fine line between classy and uppity, and all early efforts suggest that Café Belge stays very much on the former side of that line. The elegant art-deco finishings give it a sense of refinement, and yet, with its bustling bar (that has 15 different types of beers on offer) and upbeat jazz music the atmosphere is bubbly and vibrant.
If you are working in or around DIFC it is a perfect spot for a post-work tipple, and you’ll have to have strong morals to stop yourself ordering from the menu.
If we are being honest, with only a small coastline, we’ve never understood why Belgium is famed for its seafood – but whatever they are doing sure works for us. Starters (hors d’oeuvres) included a plate of huge fried prawns lightly coated in garlic and chilli on a bed of baby spinach; a warm goats cheese salad; asparagus with black truffles and a fried poached egg; and – of course– a generous pot of gorgeous mussels in a champagne cream, with a side serving of chips and mayonnaise, naturally.
The menu isn’t overly complicated and some of the courses have been paired with beers by the exclusive beer sommelier. With that in mind we opted for the sea bass with crushed potato, shallots and cream sauce – a remarkable dish that goes even better with a glass of blonde. Just about able to squeeze in a dessert, on recommendation we selected the Dame Blanche – a chocolate sphere filled with fresh cream and vanilla ice cream, that bursts open as melted Belgian chocolate is poured on top. Not exactly the healthiest ending to a meal, but certainly a happy one.
It is upper-class, stylish and laidback dining at its very best. Details: Café Belge, Ritz-Carlton DIFC, Dubai. For more visit cafebelgedifc.com