1. SOLO BISTRONOMIA
If you find yourself round Raffles way come a weekday lunchtime then make a point of dropping into Solo for something to eat. The very fairly priced (Dhs 120) three-course business lunch menu will not just brighten up your day but add a dash of luxury, too.
Dishes such as asparagus gratin with parmesan fondue, and octopus with roasted pumpkin and panzanella certainly beat a sandwich grabbed on the run – and they’re just the starters. Main courses include a nice balance of light and slightly more hearty fare, like the homemade pappardelle with a velvety-rich duck ragout. Solo also comes recommended for evenings; their Tuesday cheese nights and Sunday chocolate nights are both well worth checking out.
Raffles Hotel, Dubai, 04 370 8999, Solo Bistronomia
2. MAISON MATHIS
For a lazy weekend lunch that could easily stretch well into late afternoon, the Arabian Ranches outpost of this light, airy and family-friendly restaurant/café is just the ticket. Although the menu at Maison Mathis has its roots in Belgium, influences from all over Europe are present; main course classics include chicken and tarragon pie, moules marinière and steak frites (with Belgian-style fries).
You’ll also find generous-sized sandwiches accompanied by chips and salad, plus a scattering of pasta dishes – for our money, the macaroni gratin is the pick of the bunch. For something a little lighter, fresh and interesting salads include crispy duck with cherries and mixed leaves and cured salmon with salmon tartare, sliced orange and crunchy fennel. If you’re in the mood for a roast, visit on a Saturday – the roast beef special comes with all the trimmings a true traditionalist would expect.
Arabian Ranches Golf Club, 04 450 1313, Maison Mathis
Thanks in no small part to its charmingly pretty interior and laid-back vibe, a lunch at Leila should leave you feeling relaxed and revitalised, as well as sated. For a midday meal that will satisfy without sending you into a post-meal afternoon slump, the hot and cold mezze selection at this Lebanese restaurant is ideal. Our favourites include straight out the oven cheese-filled rolls, grassy, fresh-tasting tabbouleh spiked with lemon juice, and gorgeous, sweet-sour mouhamara – a dip of roasted red peppers rich with walnuts.
If you’re after something more substantial, there are plenty of tasty options on the menu; the arayes kafta – crisp grilled Lebanese bread stuffed with spiced, herb-flecked minced meat – is a particularly good choice. A cup of strong, Lebanese-style house coffee will round the meal off nicely.
Arabian Ranches 2, Downtown Dubai and Mirdif City Centre, Leila
4. TASTE KICTHEN
As regular readers are sure to realise, we’re big fans of the various Taste Kitchens. And while we’ve long since decided which dishes we love the most (there will be trouble if fish and chips is ever taken off), we’re also rather excited by the launch of a new menu.
As expected, it’s packed with colour and flavour, offering modern riffs on classics – the crushed avocado with sesame seeds and smoked veal might just be the best interpretation of avocado on toast yet. Dishes such as crispy tofu, bok choi and oyster mushrooms; sherri fillet with curried root vegetables and quinoa, and goats’ cheese, chick pea, broad bean and parsley salad are all sure to impress.
Mercato Mall, Silicon Oasis Cedre Villas, Spinneys Trade Center Road, Taste Kitchen