It’s take two for chef Michael Mina, but will this new restaurant fare better than Firebird?

We were sorry to see chef Mina’s Firebird Diner go. There was something heartwarming about the idea of having a proper American diner try to compete with the DIFC giants. Sadly it was not to be, and the vintage jukebox, silver chrome and cosy booths have been replaced with Mina Brasserie – a very pretty, but ultimately straight-laced international bistro. It’s a second chance for Cairo-born US chef Michael Mina to redeem himself.

If the weather permits, take the option to sit outside on the patio. The little trees, hanging lights and beautiful blue furniture combine to create quite a unique feel, and we like it a lot. 

In what seems like an attempt to impress everyone, the menu is varied. Whatever diet preferences you have, they’ll be met with ease (we actually preferred the gluten-free bread). A lot has been said about Michal Mina’s tuna tartare (Dhs90) – that it’s simply a must try or else you haven’t experienced the menu properly. Well, with pine nuts, garlic, mint and sesame-habanero oil, it’s a shake up on the usual tartare. Surprisingly, this actually came with a quail egg on top (normally the reserve of beef tartare), which was then mixed into the tuna by a chummy waiter. The tuna had hints of watermelon sweetness and a satisfying jelly texture, it certainly lived up to expectation.

The beef short ribs (Dhs135), which arrived in a dramatic smoke-filled dome, rest on top of a squash puree, cherry tomato confit and smashed potato. The flavours were deep and thick, and the beef velvety.

The Norwegian salmon (Dhs110) came circled in a forest of cauliflower and broccoli with a citrus seasoning. Like salmon can so rarely be, this was cooked perfectly. Finally a simple made-to-order fruit platter with dark chocolate truffles rounded off a very satisfying meal.

While Firebird was novel, Mina is certainly erring on the side of caution this time with its design and food options – but sometimes, as this brasserie highlights, less can indeed be more.

Mina Brasserie, Four Seasons DIFC, daily noon to 1am. Tel: (04) 506 0000.

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