Review: FRNDS Grand Cafe
Step into the roaring 20s for an evening of culinary flair…
FRNDS Grand Cafe is an art deco French bistro that promises European cuisine with a Japanese twist. Nestled on the busy streets of Downtown Dubai, diners can expect a fine dining experience in a relaxed environment.
Stepping into the restaurant through glass pane doors, we are transported to a European street side cafe with pastry cases to our left, casual velvet green seating to our right and in front of us another set of grand doors.
Through these doors, the centrepiece of the bar greets us. A yellow, stained glass window shining brightly behind bottles of liquor scatted on the shelves. Chandeliers hang low making for an ambient and intimate vibe.
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Seated at our table we are presented with a set menu for the evening. We went with the waiter’s recommendation and ordered the origami (Dhs69) – a vodka-based cocktail that is served in a dainty but mighty martini glass placed on a pedestal with an orchid and origami bird. A refreshing and surprisingly creamy drink that flows as wonderfully as the conversation.
For an appetiser, we opted for a delicious Andalusian salad (Dhs90). The salad consists of in-house smoked quail, caramelised beetroot and figs drizzled with a port fig cream topped on a bed of mixed greens. For someone that has never tried quail before, it seemed to be a slightly tougher meat but was still flavourful thanks to the smokey flavour which offsets the sweetness of the fig and caramelised beetroot.
The next course is where the Japanese influence really wowed us. The wagyu tataki truffle (Dhs105) takes humble thin slivers of beef and elevates it with garlic chips that provided the bite with a welcome crunch. The wafu sauce that accompanies the tataki was so delicious, and if we were at home we may have licked the plate clean.
Next up, the tengoku sushi rolls (Dhs85) are expertly plated in front of us. The marrying of smoked eel wrapped in sushi rice with cream cheese and avocado, coated in scallops and topped with black tobiko was a complex bite to process but sparked all kinds of joy as if we were Remy from the film Ratatouille.
Rounding out the evening, we somehow managed to squeeze in some space for dessert. We choose the floating islands (Dhs65). The dessert didn’t evoke childhood memories of grandma plating up the magically floating ball of meringue with a generous sprinkling of fine pralines. The meringue was light and fluffy and the caramel had just the right amount of sweetness, but it could have been even better if the pralines were slightly finer to accommodate smaller bites, with a lighter consistency on the vanilla sauce.
What’s On Verdict: While it is common in the culinary world to marry two cuisines and hope for some sort of complementing flavours, that often end up confusing the palate – F.R.N.D.S Grand Cafe manage to accommodate both profiles without compromising tradition and taste.