Review: Josette, Dubai's fancy French fun-dining restaurant
Is this the city’s best new restaurant?
“Welcome to 1920s Paris,” we’re warmly greeted as the grand green velvet drapes of the reception area lifts to reveal Josette, DIFC’s newest restaurant. It is a dramatic reveal of one of the prettiest restaurants we’ve ever seen. Endless shades of bubblegum, marshmallow and blush pink provide the backdrop to a restaurant of dazzling detail, all the master work of acclaimed designer Luke Edward Hall.
This long-awaited restaurant, the latest addition to ICD Brookfield, is the first foray into French cuisine from Orange Hospitality. The brand’s reputation as creators of two of Dubai’s finest Italian restaurants – Il Borro and Alici – means the expectations on Josette are high.
First impressions more than measure up. We marvel at the sparkling super sized chandeliers that twinkle above the bar and restaurant; at the grand stage that evokes an elegant Parisian cabaret; and admire the culinary brigade at work from the glass-walled pass. Another delightful touch is seeing the panel of table numbers dotted behind the bar illuminate as guests test out their ‘press for Champagne’ buttons on a gold lamp on each table, later using our own to order our first drink of the evening. It’s eccentric, over-the-top and we love it.
We take our seat, a plush teal upholstered chair surrounding a crisp white table clothed table, right infront of the stage. Here, an ornate mustard yellow curtain conceals the creative mastery of a show choreographed by artistic director, Sebastien Agius, which begins from 9.30pm. Before the spectacle starts, the sounds of a DJ fill the space, a mix of English and French hits that cleverly raise the tempo without leaving guests shouting to hear each other.
Inspired by the extravagant surroundings, we start with a tiered tower of seafood. The Plateau de Josette (Dhs950) might be a little on the pricy side, but this decadent dish is a stellar showcase of Josette’s menu, with poached lobster, razor clams, fresh crab, plump Gillardeau oysters, mussels and prawns all neatly arranged on a bed of crushed ice. The tartare de thon (Dhs110), is another prettily presented dish that might not be classically French, but with a sweet blood orange dressing and caviar topping, it’s a suitably elegant and flavourful addition to the menu. Another must-try is the escargot de Josette (Dhs105), plump snails are stuffed with a rich garlic and almond butter, which we mop up with soldiers of crispy toasted brioche. Our only critique is that we wish there was more bread to enjoy the last drops of almond butter. Another standout dish is the crevette grillées (Dhs85), swiftly served to the table as mouthfuls of juicy prawn, josper grilled and delicately seasoned with a delicious tomato concasé with hints of garlic and
Before we move to mains, we treat ourselves to an intermediate course of lobster pasta (Dhs345), which is a suitable size to share. We twirl neat ribbons of al dente trenette around chunks of fresh lobster, which is served in just the right amount of a simple – but impressive – tomato sauce. For mains, we pick one option from the land and another from the sea in a bid to put Josette’s full menu to the test. The Entrecôte CDP (Dhs245) is deliciously tender, slathered with rich Café de Paris sauce and presented alongside a bowl of crisp matchstick fries. The Josette iteration of a salt crust seabass is in fact a pastry crust seabass (Dhs495), served tableside with a side of theatrics that peels away the crust to reveal fresh flakes of fish in a fruity yuzu beurre blanc. Every mouthful is a taste sensation.
If there’s one dessert you order, make it the Crepes Josette, another dish that wins brownie points for Instagram-factor. This French icon gets a suitably glamourous Josette upgrade when it’s flambéed tableside.
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As the lights go down the sound goes up, and from 9.30pm onwards, a regular rotation of singers and dancers twirl, tap and serenade guests around the dining room. The cleverly choreographed shows are as much about the costume as the performance, both adding the perfect amount of Moulin Rouge sizzle to proceedings.
It’s nearing midnight as we depart, and as we do the curtains are closing on the restaurant and the music is pumping in the bar, where Club Josette becomes one of the hottest late night tickets in DIFC.
Verdict: Go, you won’t regret it.
Josette Dubai, ICD Brookfield, DIFC, restaurant daily 12pm to 3pm and 7pm to 12am, afternoon tea Weds to Fri, Sun, 3.30pm to 5.30pm, bar daily 12pm to 3am. Tel: (0)4 275 2522, josette.com