Kaftan

Jumeirah Beach Road, it seems, is becoming a bit of a T-Town, as the hub of new Turkish restaurant openings in Dubai. The latest on the road is Kaftan, where the tag line is ‘Turkish cuisine and fine art’. As you might expect from this description it is a more elegant looking venue than many of the emirate’s other Turkish eateries. There is a large outdoor area, currently housed in an air-conditioned marquee. It looks simple but stylish, like dining in the garden of a countryside taverna. Inside, a fine dining impression is immediately created by the attractive contrast of clean cream walls and table cloths, against wooden screens that are a burnt sugar brown and intricately carved like lace. Selectively placed on the walls are art pieces depicting the Turkish kaftan gown that gives the restaurant its name, painted with Klimt-esque elaborately coloured and curled backgrounds. These provide all the colour needed for the room. The menu is classic and spans recipes from the Ottoman region (hence a few Armenian notes) that make for an interesting selection. The list, however, feels exceptionally long and difficult to navigate. Service is certainly formal and polite, is shown to be lacking in much initiative or engagement. The guidance offered was fairly confusing and lacked any background explanation of what could be expected from each dish. The food itself arrived with (slightly alarming) alacrity. With the exception of the hunkar begendi (lamb stew with aubergine), which was dramatically unveiled from a metal cloche (similar in appearance to a tagine), each dish also arrived with thoroughly unexciting presentation, worthy of much less aspirational settings. As for eating enjoyment, this varied but was not quite matched by the price of some dishes. The rice filling for the stuffed vine leaves had a lovely nuttiness and also sweetness that suggested a little date was in the mix. The cheese filled boreki rolls were good, hot, molten and crisp. Once unveiled, the hunkar begendi was a homely stew of slightly tough cubes of lamb, but sitting on top of a deliciously creamy and flavoursome puree of aubergine with milk. Finally, the sea bass was a huge disappointment. Presented in a modern style on a wooden board, it was not, as expected, a whole filleted sea bass, but one rather slim looking fillet, which while buttery in flavour was a little overcooked. It was accompanied by a few carrots and potatoes salted to the extent that they tasted as if they could have come out of a tin. Kaftan is certainly a pleasant restaurant. But the presentation and execution of the food, plus the style of service offered, do not match the expectation that is created by the prices (of main courses) and the attractive, high-end setting. The bill (for two) 1x kasap sucuk izgara (sojouk)Dhs35 1x sigara boregi Dhs35 1x narli pancar (beetroot salad)Dhs40 1x zeytinyagli sarma (stuffed vines leaves) Dhs25 1x hunkar begendi (lamb with aubergine) Dhs110 1x izgara levrek (sea bass) Dhs85 1x large water Dhs15 Total (excluding service) Dhs345