(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Tue 6 Jun 2023, 6:00 AM
Imagine going to a Michelin-starred restaurant and finding an item on the menu called 'your least favourite vegetables'.
Well, true story, I - an avid meat lover - found this menu at Avatara and loved every bite of the restaurant's 16-course.
But first things first. Michelin-starred restaurants have always fascinated me. So, you can imagine my delight in 2022 when the prestigious guide arrived in the city I have called home for as long as I can remember.
Since then, I have dined at two such restaurants both of which have been very unique experiences. Each time, the question I posed to myself was the same. Do Michelin-starred restaurants live up to the hype? Impeccable Service
Coming back to the affair of my 'least favourite vegetables', it is what I found on the menu at Avatara, the newly minted restaurant that was awarded a one-star at the Michelin Guide 2023. I was apprehensive about how much I would like an all-vegetarian fare.
Helmed by chef Rahul Rana, Avatara celebrates soulful Indian food and is one of Dubai's only all-vegetarian fine dining degustation experience. Located in Voco Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, The restaurant only serves its 16-course meals twice a day – at 6pm and 9pm. Each time, only a maximum of 10 people are seated in the small dining room that looks like a chef's laboratory.
All I can say is that the entire meal was a mind-blowing experience that I will cherish forever. Over two hours, I ate beetroot, bitter gourd, pumpkin and bottle guard among other vegetables, but never once did I miss the meat. Although it is hard to pick favourites, I think the first course of Naivedhya that featured a popping mishrai was especially memorable. The Krishna phal that recreates a scene from the epic Indian tale of Mahabharata and Paan bonbon added the 'oomph' factor.
The service was spectacular, almost like a perfectly rehearsed play. Each course was explained and brought to us at the perfect temperatures. The three chefs, each came personally to our table several times to check on us and embodied what a Michelin level service should look like. Was the meal expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? One hundred percent, yes. Flavour is King
Another restaurant that I dined at was 11 Woodfire. Located in a three-storied villa on Jumeirah Road Dubai, the restaurant is helmed by Singaporean chef Akmal Anuar. For him, the Michelin recognition comes at the end of months of struggles to stay afloat in the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chic but casual, the experience at 11 Woodfire was quite different to that at Avatara. One of the only restaurants in the Michelin Guide to not serve alcohol, the restaurant offers a wide range of signature drinks. We ordered 'Passion Ate' and it was quite the experience
We were a big group, celebrating a friend's birthday. Each of us picked different dishes so that we could try out everything the restaurant had to offer. The bone marrow hot starter was a dish worthy of being crowned king. It was spectacular and extremely delicious.
I picked jumbo prawns as my main dish, and I loved it. The flavours were spot on, and ingredients were fresh. I enjoyed my friend's lamp chops and crispy duck legs, but secretly thought I had scored the best dish of the day.
During the evening, chef Akmal stopped by our table and asked about our comments. Overall, it was a much more relaxed affair as compared to Avatara but scored big on flavour.