Tolosa Bodéga

This French restaurant and grape bar is a new addition to Souk Al Bahar. It encompasses a Parisian feel, with intermittent performances of ‘manouche’ or gypsy jazz popularised by Django Reinhardt and southern French twists, such as a menu of Basque-style tapas, called ‘pintxos’. The interiors are simple, with a mix of grey walls, tavern-esque exposed bricks, wooded tables and steel chairs, and a handful of illustrated bull fighters on the walls. It feels very much like a modern European grape bar. The V-shaped space is divided between a dining area, and bar area (there is also a small outdoor terrace). Helping the ambience is the fact that the bar area has looked busy whenever we’ve visited Tolosa Bodega. Service is polite and helpful, and waiters tend to understand enough about the menu to give a few pointers, if not bowl you over. One waiter, noticing the discomfort of sitting by the heat of the door to the terrace, which had been left open by another customer, rushed over to swiftly to close it, before we could do the same. The menu is short and sweet, with ‘pintxos’ starters, a few tartare dishes, a few salads and main course plates, all of which have a classic French meets southern Mediterranean tone to them. The salmon tartare was healthy, fresh and sophisticated with plenty of dill aroma, and a little raw onion for a sharp contrast to the fatty fish and avocado, all delicately diced. The duck rillettes, which composed of fine threads of duck flesh encased in duck fat consequently had a very greasy, rather than meaty, impact. Inside, the shrimp croquettes were really rather more dominantly stuffed with molten cheese sauce than shrimp meat, but exceptionally morish anyway. For the main courses, the Tolosa burgers were an unexpected favourite with patties made from a drool-inducing mix of duck meat interspersed with creamy little cubes of foie gras, and topped with honey-rich caramelised onion. The buns were packed (top and bottom) with black and white sesame, giving plenty of crunch and flavour. And for the final blow, this top dish is teamed with a little bucket of the best fries we’ve tasted in quite some time, so delicious we suspect they were cooked in duck fat. A special from the blackboard of black cod was also prepared to a high standard. Tolosa is a pleasant addition to Dubai’s French scene, especially because it fills a gap that has not otherwise been covered in Dubai. It offers a lively and pleasant spot that has a cool French caché and feeling of Continental life to it. To add extra panache to your night, try and time a visit here when the live music is on, we recommend it highly. The bill (for two) 1x rillete de canard Dhs65 1x tartare de saumon Dhs70 1x croquettes de crevette Dhs50 1x Tolosa burger Dhs95 1x black cod Dhs135 Total (including service) Dhs465

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