Iftar review: Carna by Dario Cecchini
Intimacy and locally sourced ingredients are the core of this iftar.
If you are yet to watch the Netflix show Chef’s Table, we highly recommend you start with Dario Cecchini’s episode. The charismatic Tuscan butcher takes you through his life, growing up eating every piece of the cow except for the steak.
His main goal? To change how the world thinks about meat. At Carna he looks to achieve just this through his nose-to-tail philosophy. Iftar this Ramadan is no different, with the focus being sustainably and locally sourced ingredients.
Setting the scene
Seated at the intimate private dining section of the restaurant. The room is beautifully decorated with Persian carpets covering the floor. An oud player strums his instrument to set the tone for what promises to be a peaceful and delicious evening.
We share dates and sparkling water while we watch the last of the sunset on the stunning city. Waiting for us at the table we find a red pepper hummus with pulled lamb meatballs, when dipped with focaccia is the perfect start to the evening.
While shakshuka is typically a breakfast dish, we are content with eating this dish any time of the day, any day of the week. Stewed and served in a small tagine dish, the lid is lifted to reveal an aromatic tomato braise that is jam-packed with zucchini and homemade sausage. Our only critic, the egg was slightly underdone, which is entirely a personal preference. We are also presented with Carna’s take on grilled focaccia that is topped with pulled beef, locally sourced portobello mushroom duxelles and local greens.
A feast for the eyes and the soul
After a brief pause, catching up with friends we move on to the mains. Our choices for the evening are roasted lamb with local veggies and a locally sourced seabass paccheri. Opting to taste a bit of both we start with the seabass paccheri – a pasta dish that could be described as a Middle Eastern twist on the pasta puttanesca, olives, mint and saffron feature in the dish, with bite-size pieces of seabass. The pasta is cooked to the ideal al dente, as expected in any true Italian eatery.
Lamb, a rich meat that can often be an overpowering and unpleasant experience if the meat is not cooked with acute care. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable at Carna. Roasted with the most aromatic flavours, crisp and crunchy on the exterior, while the meat’s pink was slightly lacking, not one tough piece of meat was in sight.
A Sweet conclusion
Believe it or not, dessert is always one of the most anticipated dishes for us at Carna (that and their famous steak tartare.) The pastry chef is immaculately talented at coming up with the most exotic flavour profiles, that cause the ultimate sigh and eye roll on the first bite.
This time for dessert we were presented with a mango chilli kunafa that had just the right amount of tang from the mango and heat from the chilli to break the richness of the mascarpone cheese. And a date fondant that was paired with homemade smoked vanilla ice cream which we are still dreaming of.
What’s On Verdict: From the initial feeling of being at home to the expertly prepared dishes at every meal. Carna is an experience that is exemplified by the love that Dario Cecchini has for meat, food and how it brings people together.
Carna by Dario Cecchini, SLS hotel Dubai, Business Bay, available throughout Ramadan from sunset to 8pm, Dhs 225 per person. Tel: (0)4 07 0737 @carnadubai