Putting a bit of ooh la la into lunchtime…

Business lunches at great restaurants often feel like a bit of a hack. You’re a ‘cap-on-backwards’ computer whizzkid from a 90s movie, frantically tapping away in front of a green and black monitor and then… ‘BINGO!’, You’ve found a ‘back door into the system’.

These matinee specials net you a whistle-stop, behind-the-firewall tasting tour of a particular venue’s kitchen with, more often than not, a considerable concession on price.

And although the Menu Du Jour at Mamsha Al Saadiyat’s Raclette Brasserie and Café, is not technically a business lunch (at least by name), it does share a lot of the same defining qualities. So we’re claiming it under the BL banner. It’s a three-course menu, available between 11am and 5pm Monday through Friday, and there’s a set price of Dhs109 which includes one house beverage. Or you can upgrade to a package which includes two-hours of free-flow for a total cost of Dhs139 (this includes prosecco). But we’re not sure how much business is actually getting done if you’re out of the office for a two hour jolly.

They switch up the menu throughout the week and each day there are a number of choices for starters, mains and desserts. We’ve called in on a Thursday lunchtime, taken a colonial wicker style seat up by the bar and are making zero effort to calm our overt swooning over the interior design. It’s an art deco safari, with looping swirls of verdant canopy hanging from the ceiling, there are statuettes of cherry red and citrus green macaws, mischievous monkey chandeliers and crockery sets that look bang out of a Bourdeaux bistro.

Our first course is a French onion soup, with great molten dollops of nutty gruyere cheese. It’s a pretty authentic execution, there’s a low hum of caramel, a meaty foreground found in the savoury stock and cheese, with a tangy flute solo of vinegar and onion floating playfully on top.

The main course is a mussels and cream ensemble, served with a crunchy French baguette. The base elements are there — the mussels are a ripe tangerine hue and full of that fresh bivalvic marine-sweetness, it is an enjoyable dish. But there is some room for improvement. The cream was a little underseasoned for our taste and inconsistently thick in places. Perhaps we’re simply mourning the Menu Du Jour absence of our moules preparation preference… it’s always marinière.

Tart tatin is a great way to bring the curtain down on a show, and there’s no business, like a good business lunch. It’s a big buttery Provencal bisou on the cheek, shepherded by fluffy pastry, wafts of spice, ripe baked fruit and an effortless fork-tilling consistency.

Verdict: The overall quality of the various plates from the Menu Du Jour, is probably just slightly shy of what you’d expect from an average item from the a la carte offering (in all fairness, it sets a high bar). But in terms of value for money, it really is the business. Rating: B+ for food, and a solid A for value.  

Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, 11am to 5pm Mon to Fri. Tel: (02) 546 2277, @racletteuae

Images: Provided