Is it style over substance at this new arrival in the Fashion Avenue extension of The Dubai Mall…

Fashion (and book) aficionados will be familiar with Maison Assouline. Renowned for its collectible books, Maison Assouline was founded in 1994 in London, and it’s been publishing books for almost 25 years. So the announcement of its arrival in Dubai – only the second Maison Assouline concept store in the world – was met to much excitement to those familiar with the brand.

For non fashion fans, Masison Assouline in the Fashion Avenue of The Dubai Mall is simply a chic yet inviting cafe hidden behind the guise of a bookshop. But make no mistake, this isn’t the kind of bookshop filled with aging novels of yellow pages and dusty covers, Maison Assouline and is elegantly laid out with walls covered by coffee table treasures on subjects such as fashion, art and culture.

Each book is housed in its own shelf on the overwhelmingly large shelves that occupy the entire walls of deep red hues, the room welcomingly lightened by the natural light flooding through from the full windows that back out onto the terrace. While the ‘Swan Bar’, as the cafe-part is called, is an elegant indoor space with a couple of tables, it’s the ‘Swan Terrace’ where we find ourselves on a sunny Friday afternoon.

The expansive terrace has front-row seats to the afternoon fountain shows, and it’s busy, but not full on our visit. It’s leafy, with foliage draped in a way that’s most certainly designed to be Instagrammed adorning the walls and latticed roof, complimented by beautifully painted pillars covered in birds.

The menu is concise, limited we’re advised by the small kitchen space inside, but it covers the basics of light, healthy dishes, so we order a selection to share.

A table wide hit is the ‘Hummus Maison A’ (Dhs42). The dish extends way beyond the safe perimeters of a traditional hummus and is generously filled with truffle carpaccio and served with crispy flat bread.

The crab salad (Dhs72) is disappointingly slightly on the small side, but we devour each mouthful of fresh crab and rocket with appreciation.

A cold cut selection (Dhs58) is a much more generous portion, and is layered with cured lamb, smoked turkey and dried beef bacon with more than enough to share between two.

There are some brilliantly fresh mocktails on the menu too, and you shouldn’t leave without trying The Hamptons (Dhs42). It’s a fresh and zesty combination of lime, elderflower, bitter lemon and fresh cucumber.

Much more than just a coffee shop, Maison Assouline is an elegant alfresco offering of healthy eats that makes for the perfect pitstop for an afternoon at the mall.

Maison Assouline, Fashion Avenue, The Dubai Mall, daily 11.30am to 11.30pm.

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Images: Supplied