Review: Flamingo Room, a new concept by the Tashas cafes team

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Dubai’s prettiest restaurant is now open, but what about the food?

Combine Baz Luhrman’s Great Gatsby with Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel and put that vision on the cover of Elle Décor. That’s what Flamingo Room By Tashas looks like.

Just like with Luhrman or Anderson, the attention to detail is second-to-none: everything from the door handles to the bar is a talking point, and even the speakers are painted the same salmon pink as the walls. From the marble floors to the fish-scale walls and the sculptural light that looks like a giant orchid sprawling across the ceiling, the dining room at this new Jumeirah Al Naseem restaurant is truly beautiful.

South African chef and restaurateur Natasha Sideris says she wants dining in her restaurants to feel like “putting your feet up on an insanely expensive couch”. She’s achieved that here: you’re sitting in a space more opulent than any other restaurant in the city, but the service is friendly and the food is more ‘family style’ than ‘fine dining’.

There are many Tashas cafés dotted around the UAE, but this is Sideris’ first licensed restaurant in the UAE (it won’t be the last, there are plans for another in DIFC soon).

Flamingo’s appeal to the aesthete extends to the food – even the butter that comes with the freshly-cooked bread in the beginning has been stamped with a flamingo.

We ate a lot at Flamingo Room, and while the prawn avo ritz (Dhs88) manages to bring the prawn cocktail into the new millennium by adding watercress and fennel to the mix, the most memorable starter was the white fish ceviche (Dhs68). Many ceviches are a one-note slap in the face of tartness, but this is a well-rounded hug. Yes, there’s a lot of lime juice, but there’s also ginger, sweet ponzu, black salmon roe, red onion, cucumber, chilli and coriander. A highlight.

There’s a bit of everything on the main menu: from burgers, to pastas, grills and plenty of seafood, but if you’re a lover of truffle, you’ll want to order the exotic mushroom open lasagne (Dhs86). The silken fresh pasta sheets flop all over the plate, covered in crème fraiche and porcini stock, with an assortment of mushrooms adding umami. The first bite of this was, we thought, one of the greatest things we’d ever tasted, but the last bite made us feel ill – this is definitely only for people who really love truffle (or one to share).

There are plenty of African flavours on the menu – from the peri peri chicken (Dhs130) to the calamari Mozambique (Dhs98): the latter is a ginormous plate of soft squid – heads and all – doused in a piquant and vinegary chilli sauce. A crazy nest of potato fries covers the dish (we say soak them in the sauce and let them get soggy).

One of the restaurant’s signature desserts, the Amira (Dhs54), is the definition of South African comfort food: a malva pudding with vanilla pod ice cream and crème anglaise. We’ve had softer malva pudding at South African braais, but this one comes with sophistication – think a touch of cardamom in the anglaise.

Flamingo Room is busy every night – with a mix of impeccably dressed Emiratis, tourists, businessmen and families: and sure, it’s not cheap, but it’s no pricier than its Dubai peers (and someone has to pay for that sumptuous décor). We’ll be back.

Flamingo Room By Tashas, Jumeirah Al Naseem, Sat to Wed 9am to 4pm, 6.30pm to 11.30pm (bar until 12.30am), Thur and Fri 9am to 4pm, 6.30pm to 12.30am (bar until 1.30am). Tel: (04) 244 7278. Taxi: Jumeirah Al Naseem. flamingoroombytashas.com

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Images: Supplied