Review: Kizmet

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Have the fates aligned for Kizmet – a new Dubai Opera eatery?

We’re not going to lie to you: Kizmet has the kind of globe-trotting menu that normally fills us with dread. How can a kitchen pull off Mexican tostadas and Middle Eastern-spiced lamb alongside pizzas and pierogi? Generally, not well. But this is Dubai, a multicultural mixing pot if ever there was one, and so this intrepid selection of soul-food favourites from around the world not only works – it excels.

Like the waitstaff who are switched-on, seasoned professionals, the sharing menu is packed with bravado, with the smarts to back it up. There’s the cult-favourite ‘My girlfriend is not hungry’ (Dhs25),  a serve of creamy avocado fries in a crisp chickpea batter with a vegan, aquafaba-based mayo laced with habanero. Or Kizmet’s mod take on hummus (Dhs45), served with slender tofu churros and a mop of sauteed Swiss chard.

In fact, the one thing this diverse offering has in common is a no-holds-barred approach to flavour. It’s evident in the slow burn of tuna tostadas (Dhs35) with a fiery lick of chilli oil, and a mesmerising dish of cumin-spiced lamb (Dhs55) with smoky eggplant puree, zippy green tahini and the sweet-tart pop of pomegranate seeds. Those plump short-rib pierogi, dubbed ‘Layover in Poland’ (Dhs60), come topped with a snow-like flurry of shaved sour cream, beetroot dust and the subtle warmth of spring onion cress, with a tiny glass of borscht to cut through the richness.

The only flat note was the ricotta tortelli in parmesan broth (Dhs50); the too-thick pasta and ho-hum soup paled against the more accomplished dishes.

Desserts are deliriously good, however, whether you order the ethereal tres leches (three milks) cake with cleansing yuzu sorbet, or the in-your-face combination of dulce de leche cheesecake, chocolate ganache, lime gel and passionfruit-banana sorbet (both Dhs35). The latter ain’t for the faint-hearted.

Just like the kitchen cherry-picks from different cultures, so too does the interior design. Downstairs, there’s a clubby vibe thanks to wood panelling and leather chairs in shades of chocolate and whipped cream. A staircase lined with lanterns and Afghani rugs leads to the upper floor, an Art Deco darling of pink, grey, brass, checkerboard floors, and palm trees.

Overlooking the plaza at Dubai Opera, Kizmet is perfectly positioned for pre- and post-show dining, with a surprisingly affordable bill. But when the theatre isn’t in full swing, it’s lacking foot traffic. It takes some seeking, but those who do chance upon Kizmet (meaning ‘fate’) will be richly rewarded.

Dubai Opera, Sat to Wed noon to 1am, Thur and Fri noon to 2am. Tel: (04) 3888717. kizmetrestaurant.com

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Images: Supplied