Coya

Coya, which originally opened in London’s Mayfair, represents one chapter in the world’s current penchant for Peruvian cooking. On the back of Coya London’s success, its launch inside the new Four Seasons resort in Jumeirah, Coya Dubai, has been highly anticipated. Beyond a vast entrance with the proportions of a palazzo door, lies the vibrant, eclectic and exciting-looking Coya. Within these walls is a small bar and even smaller outdoor terrace, which was closed on this particular visit. There’s a private members’ area hidden away behind the bar, while the main dining space opens out into wow-factor dimensions. The use of wooden flooring, leather, stone and metal sheets riveted to the walls give it a stylish feel, while woven cushions and statues of ancient Andean figures lend that all-important Peruvian touch. Full of life, Coya feels invitingly ambient thanks to an army of diners – though this could be taking its toll (dramatically) on the standard of service. On the menu, you’ll find plenty of Peruvian dishes and ingredients, including ceviches, tiraditos and antichuchos, but as elevated and modernised interpretations of the country’s cuisine. And on the whole, the standard is very high. As the red snapper ceviche arrived, it flooded the table with truffle aroma. The dish was a lovely balance of heady truffle and sharp, fresh yuzu. The prettily plated scallop tiradito was as delicate and elegant in appearance as taste. A salad of corn made excellent use of Peru’s many native varieties, ranging from crunchy and nutty to plump and creamy. Among the antichuchos (Peruvian barbecue skewers of meat) on the menu, the ultra-traditional option of beef heart was beautifully lean and meaty, with a slightly intense and gamey flavour, offset by a sticky, peppery sauce. The spicy beef fillet was juicy, rare and sweetly spiced, while the Chilean seabass, with its creamy, buttery consistency of rich, sweet flesh, teamed softly and subtly with Peruvian yellow pepper aji Amarillo. And then there was the broccoli. One of many recommended dishes, it was the only unsuccessful suggestion. In taking on a smoky, charred quality, it had developed a heavy taste of smoke. It was utterly inedible and went back to the kitchen. And in return, we received no replacement, no apology, no explanation. The offending item was not even removed from the bill. Which brings us on to where our overwhelming issue lies with Coya: the service. One decent waitress served our table for much of the evening and her charm may have been primarily in her grimaces regarding the rest of the service team. Because, from start to finish, service from the rest of the team varied from questionable to rude. From the woman who huffed through our phone call to book the table, through to the member of staff who pushed passed us with no apology, by far the worst offender was the senior staff. It turned out, our table had been booked for a two-hour slot only. But no one mentioned this, either at the time we made the reservation or when we ordered desserts ten minutes before our time was apparently up. So it was a surprise when, 15 minutes later, we were scolded for keeping the table so long. When we suggested that this could have been verbalised before that moment, some top brass arrived at our table for something of a showdown. Quite aside from the fact a senior member of staff handled the situation so poorly; we later made a test reservation. Just to make sure. And, no mention of that two hour slot. Again. Reflecting on the meal, we were left with distinct impression Coya is not overly concerned with whether diners enjoy their experience. We can only assume that they assume you will come anyway. Maybe they are right; maybe you will. For us, however, once was more than enough. The bill (for two) 1x red snapper ceviche Dhs72 1x scallop tiradito Dhs110 1x corn salad Dhs42 1x baby squid Dhs42 1x ox heart antichucho Dhs38 1x spicy beef Dhs180 1x Chilean seabass Dhs162 1x broccoli Dhs40 2x mocktails Dhs62 2x large water Dhs60 Total (excluding service, including added tax) Dhs889

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