The Brass (at CityWalk Phase 2, Dubai) takes coffee very seriously. On their counters is a display of fragile coffee apparatus that would be more fitting in the labs of a mad scientist. They even have rustic jute coffee sacks in the background, and quirky coffee quotes on the wall. The ambiance is all at once welcoming, chilled out and artsy. Everything here seems to be washed in an amber hue, so befitting of the cafe’s name.
Yet there’s more on offer here than coffee. The menu card may seem limited to cafe grub, but the chef here has had a play with Mediterranean flavours and incorporated these into regular deli offerings. Rose Water Cheesecake anyone? Or how about a serving of lavender scented coffee, or Tahini in your hot chocolate?!
I was hosted by a very lovely young lady called Svitlana who hails from Lviv (a city in Ukraine that is renowned in Europe for its fine coffees). I was waiting for a friend before I placed an order, and we got into an animated conversation over coffee. Svitlana told me a very interesting tale about the discovery of coffee, and this is how it goes:
The Story of Coffee
Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived a goat herder in Ethiopia. He had a very frisky herd of goats who seemed to be a little too high on energy, and the neighbors were starting to complain about their shenanigans.
Curious on what kept them so hyper even into the night, the herder began to investigate on what his goats were eating. He soon discovered they were grazing on the raw red coffee beans in his pasture.
He tried these berries for himself, and found he too could not sleep. The berries gave him so much newfound energy!
It was Ramadan, and the Muslim community were staying up late into the night for the obligatory prayers. The herder thought this would be a good business opportunity for him, and offered the red berries to the local Mosque.
The people at the Mosque thought the berries were far too grotesque, and then someone came up with the idea of boiling them and drinking the liquid instead. This was the world’s very first pot of brewed coffee!
Soon this miraculous drink spread through the Arab world, and got incorporated into the local culture. The rest of the world was still coffee deprived till one day, a Turkish merchant gifted some coffee to a trader in Vienna.
Vienna was therefore the very first European port to get exposed to coffee, and from there its all history.
In the Arab world, coffee was traditionally served in beautiful brass. Keeping the Mediterranean link alive, this is how this funky new cafe at CityWalk got its name!
What happens when you go for coffee with a professional photographer? You get some pretty amazing shots! A big ‘thank-you’ to my very talented friend Jason Dalmeida for the gorgeous photography in this post (for more on him, click here).
Flipping through the menu, I was very intrigued by the Lavender Honey Latte. It falls under the signature beverages at The Brass, and I therefore had to have it. Love the scent of lavender and coffee, yet I’ve never sniffed them both together!
I scored with the prettiest drink on the table with this one! Served in a barista-style glass, you can see the separate layers of organic honey, coffee and steamed milk. The froth is garnished with a sprinkle of dried lavender, a reminder of the floral link to the drink, but I could sniff the characteristic scent of lavender as soon as it hit the table. It overpowers the subdued scent of coffee, and you can taste it with every sip. This latte is unique as it is beautiful, both visually and on the palate.
Under the chocolate beverages was yet another interesting cup on offer. Tahini Hot Chocolate anyone? It would make the bravest of palates a little skeptical, but then I reminded myself I love chocolate-flavored Halawa. Jason chose to try this drink, and his verdict was two thumbs up. It is a classic hot chocolate; rich, warm and comforting. Yet it has a hint of nuttiness from the Tahini sesame paste, and is sweetened with Maple Syrup. What a clever mix of modern cuisines!
My 5 year-old insisted on having something cold and chocolate, so I ordered the Frozen for her. This is cold chocolate that has been further enriched with chocolate ice-cream, and blended with ice. Quite a naughty treat, if you ask me! I had a sip of this and was blown away by just how strong and pronounced the chocolate flavor was. Even blended with ice, the drink does not get diluted on the chocolate factor and this can easily be a meal in itself.
I wanted to try a salad, and was suggested The Mediterranean. Tuna fans will love this as its loaded with slow-cooked tuna chunks. The salad is a toss of boiled egg, green and white beans, pickled Piquillo peppers, olives and greens, and is dressed in a light, refreshing Dijon dressing.
Fancy a light meal any time of the day? This salad would tick all the right boxes.
From their Sandwiches section, I chose to try The Brass Croque Monsieur. When an establishment puts its name next to a dish, you can rest assured they take particular pride in it and this sandwich was no exception.
Oozing with gooey melting aged Gruyere cheese, this decadent block can only be attacked with fork and knife! Just like a traditional French Croque, the filling is oozing with cheesy goodness, and given it is Gruyere, the flavors are all the more pronounced. So indulgent is the cheese that you can be forgiven for not noticing the thinly sliced Turkey ham that lines every layer. As a Mediterranean touch, this cheesy monster is encrusted with a spectacularly green sprinkle of ground pistachio. Forget the calories with this one, and make a meal of it. If you like cheese as much as I do, you’ll be begging for seconds!
Jason ordered the Moroccan Spiced Pulled Lamb Flatbread. This dish looks every bit like a traditional Arabic Manakish, but what makes it extra special is the lamb itself.
You get a hit of meaty goodness at every bite, and can taste the delicate play of spices in the foreground. The flatbread is garnished with swirls of aromatic mint-rose water yogurt.
Being a cafe, ofcourse they have dessert… a whole display case of enticing treats that change on a daily basis. A very dainty looking slice of cheese-cake caught my eye. This was The Brass’ Rose Water Cheese Cake, and I had to have some.
Who would have thought of incorporating the delicate hint of rose into a cheese cake? Absolute genius! This cheese cake is indulgently rich, yet its rosy hit is all at once light and feminine, and you can also taste sweet swirls of honey running through it. Trust me, this dessert tastes even better than it looks!
My 5 year-old, being the chocaholic that she is, opted to try their Chocolate Cake. It had the deep richness of a mud cake (the cocoa used in it is definitely of very superior quality), yet the cake itself managed to be enjoyably light and had a beautifully moist, spongy texture that relates to perfect baking.
Overall, we had a lovely afternoon at The Brass. The ambiance is invitingly stylish, the staff are very knowledgeable and friendly, and if you are willing to explore beyond regular cafe offerings, this is the place to be. And yes… that Lavender Honey Latte and Rose Water Cheese Cake is a must!
The Brass is located in CityWalk Phase 2 off Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah.