Tucked away in the lush greenery of the Al Barari estate is a restaurant offering a uniquely serene and scenic experience. The Farm Al Barari was conceptualized and created by the Zaal family of the UAE, and the sole ethos of this restaurant revolves around dishing out soul-satisfying food in an ambiance to suit.
In operation for over 3 years now, The Farm owes its name to its initial concept of using produce from its very own garden. However, the restaurant has since overgrown the 28 pax capacity, and outsources the finest ingredients available at any given time. Given the need for freshness, the menu at The Farm keeps changing seasonally.
The Farm Al Barari has created a special menu for Ramadan. Unlike many other restaurants that offer a buffet service for Iftar, The Farm stays true to its concept of offering freshly made food, and orders from the a la carte menu are made from scratch upon ordering.
We drove down to Al Barari last evening. The lush greenery lacing the winding road down is a visual treat for Dubai dwellers accustomed to the urban scene.
Synonymous to a country road and a laid-back idyllic life away from the hustle bustle of the city, a drive down Al Barari is magically uplifting and also provides for the perfect backdrop for family shoots.
My little family and I decided to get to Al Barari well before Iftar to explore the scenic grounds we had heard so much of. The grounds of The Farm have a very zen feel.
The trickle of water from a mini water-fall, a bridge looking into a stream, beautiful bamboo accents in the decor, the serene face of a Thai Buddha; a visual treat to the mind and soul.
The restaurant itself is all glass, taking advantage of the scenic surroundings. The bamboo theme continues throughout amid sophisticated minimalist whites of chic cafe-style dining.
We broke our fast with the obligatory platter of dates and dried fruit. We were also offered shot glasses of deliciously refreshing date and tamarind juices.
While we studied The Farm’s menu options, we were offered a complimentary basket of freshly baked buns with butter. The buns were still hot out of the oven, and the butter just melted when being spread.
The Farm Al Barari has done away with paper-printed menu cards, which makes sense as the restaurant keeps changing their menu every so often. Instead, we were presented with an iPad each to browse through the many categories of offerings. We ordered a mix from the Ramadan and the Thai menu (we find it impossible to say ‘no’ to Thai!).
We started off with a bowl of Thai soup each. Hubby went for his favorite; the Tom Yum Goong (a spicy Thai prawn soup). This is a very aromatic soup with a play on exotic flavors of lemongrass and kafir lime leaves. The soup was mildly hot with a touch of chili flavor, and was loaded with succulent plump prawns and juicy mushroom.
I had the Tom Kha Gai (a Thai coconut-chicken soup). Don’t go by the bland look of this bowl; one spoonful and I was debating over how my soup was packed with more of an exotic Thai punch than my husband’s! I also love the addition of nourishing, creamy coconut milk.
For starters, Hubby continued to order from the Thai menu and went for the Tam Nuea Naamkok salad. This is a traditional Thai spicy beef salad consisting of finely sliced cooked beef that has been marinated in a tangy-hot sauce and tossed with tomatoes and special Thai herbs. Slices of fresh shallot and semi-cooked rice grains add to the texture of the dish, and hands down this was one of the best dishes we had last night.
My starter was from The Farm’s Ramadan menu. I went for the Grilled Tiger Prawns with Mango-Tomato Salsa & Miso Wasabi. Don’t these babies look gorgeous? Beautifully cooked, the prawns were a delight to eat with the tangy salsa. The ‘miso wasabi’ dressing was nice and creamy, but I would have liked a bit more of a Wasabi kick out of it. To me, it was more of a mayo with a hint of miso saltiness.
And here’s a look at the drinks we had:
Hubby ordered the Peppermint Milkshake, the pretty pastel green glass on the left. This is a decadent shake accentuated with the freshness of peppermint. You’d want to go easy on the sips with this one if you want to save space for dessert!
I had a healthful smoothie which is not as visually appealing. Listed as Sunrise on the menu, my smoothie is loaded with the goodness of blended strawberries and blueberries in orange juice and low-fat yogurt. This too is a rather thick blend, and has a deliciously tangy berry aftertaste.
My daughter went for fresh watermelon juice. When they say fresh, The Farm really delivers on this promise. The juice was not iced down or sweetened up with sugar, and gets total mummy approval.
For our main dishes, we started off with the Goong Phad Naam Prik Phow. This yet another dish from the Thai menu, and consists of deep fried prawns served in a tangy tamarind sauce. The prawns were soft, succulent and cooked beautifully. The tangy gravy may not appeal to everybody, but I quite enjoyed it on the accompanying Jasmine Rice. The flavors are a unique marriage of seafood, tangy tamarind and exotic Thai.
While having out mains, we were greeted at the table by The Farm’s ever friendly F&B Manager, Yves de Lafontaine. Chef Yves has been with The Farm since its inception, and is the man behind the ever-evolving menu offerings. Hailing from the Seychelles with a French ancestry to boot, Chef Yves started off as Head Chef at The Farm, and has since broadened his responsibilities to keep the excitement alive with fresh, soulfully seasonal dishes that pay utter respect to the produce being used.
From the Ramadan menu, Chef Yves insisted we try the Camel Kofta Dawood Basha. This is essentially camel meatballs served on a bed of couscous. We were quite skeptical about camel meat, this was a first for both me and Hubby. However, upon the first spoonful, this dish won us over. If we weren’t told its camel, I would easily be fooled into believing its beef. More than the meatballs themselves, it was the broth that made this dish so spectacular. Made with the sweetest and ripest of tomatoes, the refreshing flavors translate beautifully on the palette along with the full bodied accent of capsicum. This is a star dish, and so apt for Ramadan. If camel meat is putting you off, I suggest you keep your inhibitions aside and give the Camel Kofta Dawood Basha a try.
Being a Kiwi, I was very keen on trying The Farm’s Rib-Eye Steak. The steak used here is grass-fed New Zealand beef, and the portion size of 250 grams is overly generous given we already had two other mains on the table.
I always like my steak done medium-rare, and this one was cooked to perfection. We needn’t have worried about the portion size as with the help of Hubby and our little one, we managed to wipe the plate empty. The meat was juicy-soft, and had the perfect amount of marbling to give that melt-in-the-mouth texture we love. Forkfuls of caramelized onion and a dripping of a mildly spicy sauce made each mouthful a delight on the palette.
When it comes to dessert, my 4 year-old daughter can easily be bribed with chocolate ice-cream. By the end of the main course, she was showing signs of boredom and ready to chime out protests on going home right now. When Chef Yves brought her this gorgeous scoop of home-made chocolate ice-cream, the foul mood dissipated almost instantly and she got busy scooping her wee spoon into the decadence. From the speed it vanished I’m assuming it was ah-mazing. We were not allowed a taste!
Taking cue from Chef Yves’ suggestion, Hubby and I shared a plate of the Gluten Free Chocolate Delight. This is one of the rare dishes that is a constant on The Farm’s menu, and for good reason too. It tastes absolutely divine! The dessert has a mousse-like consistency, but is denser in texture. Made of pure Venezuelan 70% cocoa chocolate, this is a chocaholic’s dream without being overly sweet. The scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top helps balance out the bitter-sweet richness. No flour has been used in this dessert, and it is mainly a concoction of pure chocolate and egg. This makes it gluten-free, and here’s the best part: Chef Yves insists the entire dessert including the scoop of ice-cream is less than 100 calories per serving! I can live on this stuff!
We ended the meal with frothy cups of cappuccino with scrumptious wee bites of Semolina Carrot Cake. Delish!
The Farm Al Barari is an experience in itself. Enjoy a laid-back meal over flavorful dishes amid a serenely scenic ambiance. With an ever-changing menu, there’s always something new on offer at The Farm. Check out their Ramadan menu on this link. For reservations call 04 392 5660.