Angelina

The heritage of this Parisian tea room is about as far flung as it gets from The Dubai Mall, which now houses the new branch of this café. Having first opened in 1903 in the French capital, the original Angelina boasted regulars in the ilk of Coco Chanel (who was supposedly enamoured by Angelina’s hot chocolate), making this chic café a neat fit for the mall’s nearby Fashion Avenue. The ‘outer’ edge of the venue is artfully designed to create that Parisian pavement café illusion. Inside, there is an imposing patisserie counter, shelves lined with chocolates and similar goodies to buy, and a dining room decorated with antiquated French glamour, hefty wooden tables and chandeliers. There is a slightly aged touch to the interior (for such a new opening, you may be surprised to notice quite a lot of damaged paint work along the skirting board, and a rather granny-ish carpet on the floor). Yet, with the vintage caché behind the concept, Angelina can just about pull this off with charm. Service is unfailingly polite and fairly friendly, but as the café is often busy and servers are not assigned to specific tables, you may well find it lacks warmth, or even speed. On this visit, taking orders, removing plates and requesting the bill all involved quite a wait, although plates all arrived swiftly. The menu offers breakfast dishes, a nice, neat selection of French-Italian bistro fare and plenty more to choose from the patisserie counter for dessert. The meal kicked off badly with good bread, but it had that microwaved quality of burning your hands, and quickly lost its heat finally becoming far too tough and chewy. However, things picked up with the rest of the food. From the starter selection, the smoked salmon with blini (made in-house) was a very simple plate, with a few generous curls of good, fatty salmon, two big fresh, doughy blini and vibrant lemon and chive cream. For mains, the ravioli with truffle, porcini and portobello mushroom was topped with plenty of rocket, giving it a great break in colour and freshness, but unfortunately the rocket had a sad, wilted and back-of-the-fridge sort of appearance. The large ravioli were deeply flavoured with garlic, with nuts for a textural edge, while the surrounding sauce was a rich, cheesy conduit for the truffle aroma. Looking around at other tables in Angelina, patisserie is really the most popular thing to try here. At this stage, one waiter brought over a tray of different items from the patisserie counter and offered some description of what they were, making it clear that the Paris-New York option was a must-try (the first sign of proactive and engaging service of the evening). The little choux bun didn’t look like much, but it was stuffed with a lovely pecan and feuillintine paste and sweet nut cream. Angelina is a pleasant spot for a Parisian-style cake and coffee experience. The savoury menu, setting and service are also by no means offensive, but it’s unlikely that you’ll follow in Chanel’s footsteps and become a regular at this branch. The bill (for one) 1x smoked salmon Dhs55 1x ravioli Dhs70 1x Paris-New York Dhs45 1x juice Dhs30 1x large water Dhs30 Total (excluding service) Dhs230

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