BoxPark Dubai has become a bit of a dining institution in the city. Who would have thought that creating a whole lineup of retail space using discarded shipping containers can turn so iconic? #OnlyInDubai if you ask me!
BoxPark houses some of Dubai’s most happening eateries and quirky fashion labels, and is especially enjoyable given the lovely alfresco weather we are enjoying right now. But who would have thought that a topnotch, fine-dining restaurant (that too, very stiffed collared and French!) can open inside a box?! With gilded walls and cascading chandeliers, Café Des Artistes is BoxPark’s newest ‘kid on the block’. We had the pleasure of dining there a week into its opening, and the place was already overflowing with enthusiastic diners.
The booked out tables does not come as a surprise, given the distinguished taste of Dubai diners. The place oozes sophistication and Parisian panache, and offers full-course meals as well as being a perfect setting for high-teas.
Café Des Artistes, as the name suggests, also stocks artisan products and a very tempting spread of immaculately created hand-made chocolates.
The interiors of Café Des Artistes are tastefully chic and Parisian. The walls feature classic French-style moldings, and a subtle equestrian theme seems to be dominating the decor with beautiful paintings of horses adorning the walls, and a sculpted horse bust presiding at the center of the display.
We booked ourselves a table for dinner, and as we got busy scanning through the menu, we were served a complimentary platter of freshly baked bread with mushroom butter and herb-infused olive oil.
Although the main premise of Café Des Artistes is French, the menu borrows a great deal of local Mediterranean flavors. Take for instance my drink; I sipped on a very flavorful Rose Cardamom Cocktail, garnished with sprinkles of local Summac.
Hubby had a fruitier sip, opting for Café Des Artistes’ White Peach and Lavender Cocktail.
For our appetizers round, we started off with Café Des Artistes’ Seabass Carpaccio. Featuring oyster watercress and dotted with green pepper cream, this dainty looking dish was as flavorful as it was pretty.
We also ordered a plate of Café Des Artistes’ Fennel and Orange Supreme Salad with Marinated Prawns. The prawns were plump and juicy, but the real star was the combination of fresh fennel with orange; a delicious match made in heaven!
For our main-course, Hubby satiated his carnivorous cravings with Café Des Artistes’ Slow Cooked and Pulled Organic Lamb Shoulder. This is one of those moreish, meaty meals specifically created for winter nights. Served with a very flavorful lamb gravy and a light pomegranate herb salad on the side, the pulled meat itself was absolutely ‘melt in the mouth’ perfection.
However, my main-course was far more photogenic! This is Café Des Artistes’ Open Back Sultan Ibrahim, a very cute little fishy who’s back has been stuffed with couscous and an assortment of garden vegetables.
Seeing how click-happy I was getting with my fishy friend, our host asked me if I had given him a name yet. The first French-sounding name that came to mind was Pierre! Funnily it turned out our host for the night is called Peter 🙂 Pity I didn’t click him too.
The flesh of the fish was beautifully cooked, although I needed a slight seasoning of salt. The vegetables were also delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the purple yam. However, the couscous was a little bland for my liking, and I would have liked it with more seasoning of some sort.
We had a serving of Truffle French Fries on the side. These may look like ordinary fries, but the characteristic scent of truffle hit us as soon as this was served on the table, and it really is brimming with truffle goodness. This is what I call having Fish & Chips the posher, French way 🙂
When dining at a French restaurant, I have high expectations for the dessert round. We ordered Café Des Artistes’ Lavender Creme Brulee. The presentation was neat and dainty, yet the brulee was not torched adequately. If you watch as much Master Chef as I do, you know that is the first prerequisite for testing a creme brulee… the top has to crackle under a spoon! In this case, it was non-existant. However, the brulee itself was absolutely delicious! Rich and creamy with a subtle hint of lavender, the wee scoop of lavender ice-cream on the top added to the flavor balance.
Café Des Artistes also has a smorgasbord of very tempting French pastries right at the front, and I am planning on a trip back to try this section out along with a pot of their famous coffee brews.
In a nutshell, Café Des Artistes is a beautiful slice of Parisian cafe culture right here in BoxPark Dubai. The charmingly chic interiors accompanied with a cleverly contemporary take on traditional French cuisine is bound to win over a steady stream of regulars from the Dubai dining scene.
Do pay them a visit, and I guarantee you will walk out with quite a few Instagram-worthy clicks!