Debonair’s resident epicurean dines at the Trèsind Studio, where executive chef Himanshu Saini has come of age
Debonair’s resident epicurean indulges in fancy rustic fare at David Myers’ Bleu Blanc
Eduan R. Maggo
The premise is simple enough — a bumbling, floppy-haired bookseller spills orange juice all over a global super star and invites her to his apartment to clean up. The stage is set for our two protagonists who come from totally different worlds to get to know each other and fall in love.
Of course he messes up (or she does, depending on your perspective), but by the end they’ve overcome their differences to live happily ever after. Add rom-com sure-fires Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, and Notting Hill was bound to be a hit.
What few could have predicted, though, was how popular the entrance to his apartment would become. Sure, that blue door stands out in a street of houses stripped of colour, but in the grander scheme it’s pretty insignificant.
And yet, said blue door has had its own Hollywood-scripted rags-to-riches story, becoming a tourist attraction in its own right.
Global restaurateur and celebrity chef David Myers hopes to replicate that success and draw patrons through his own blue door-fronted Bleu Blanc — one of three F&B concepts the man behind the Los Angeles restaurant Sona (which maintained its Michelin star for three consecutive years in the late noughties) opened recently in Dubai.
Acting as much more than just a portal to the restaurant, walking through the blue door is meant to take you to Southern France, which inspires the Gypsy Chef here. Its slightly worn appearance should evoke a farmhouse atmosphere, and clue you in to what to expect: rustic fare — dressed up, of course.
Take the first dish, served sharing-style. Crispy flatbread, topped with crème fraîche, chives, a beautifully cooked soft-boiled quail’s egg and the star ingredient — Sturia caviar, its subtle saltiness rounding off a delicate composition for a savoury start to proceedings. Simple. Effective. It reiterates the fact that a no-nonsense approach clearly doesn’t mean uninspired.
Wagyu steak tartare that deviates from staid iterations builds on this foundation. Here it’s a lot less finicky and does away with the spicy notes often used to mask subpar produce, thus elevating the flavours of the beef. The bread that accompanies it is baked in the massive oven that takes centre stage in the open kitchen; warm and freshly toasted, it’s finished with a generous helping of fragrant olive oil.
Then, for peak nostalgia, we’re strongly implored to have the basil pesto ravioli, an adaptation of a dish Meyers grew up eating at his grandmother’s table. The freshness of the herbs is tempered by the warm tones of sundried tomato and goat’s cheese; its spruced-up take on rustic cuisine epitomises the concept of Bleu Blanc.
A personal nadir is the lobster risotto. The crustacean tries valiantly in its rich, buttery bisque, but is overpowered by truffle oil. The more successful truffle mayo that comes with the gorgeous ribeye shows more restraint and is quite content in its second fiddle role. Likewise, giant shrimp fresh off the coals — another hallmark of this venue — can’t be faulted.
The Black Forest cake on the dessert menu surpasses every expectation. Light and moist with a superior ganache, it’s bursting with Christmas flavours — think a delicate ensemble of cloves, nutmeg, a hint of cinnamon, maybe a sprinkling of all spice and suggestions of warmth, the secret apparently lies in tonka beans (known as the most delicious ingredient you’ve never heard of).
Wash it down upstairs with an inventive cocktail the barmen whip up at Myers’ secret-club bar Poppy.
As for me? Look for me downstairs. Because I’ll be just a boy, standing in front of a blue door, asking to be fed.
Debonair steps into the kitchen with the ‘Gypsy Chef’, the American restaurateur behind Michelin-star venues around the world and three in Dubai — Bleu Blanc, Basta! and Poppy
Gypsy Chef’s exclusive dining experience at the Grill Counter is a thing of simple culinary wonder. And you need to get a seat before he leaves town
Debonair’s resident epicurean dines at Flavio Briatore’s Crazy Fish, where things get lemony