Rococo

I’ll admit I was nervous about Rococo. The last time I ate at the newly opened Sofitel it was at the hotel’s French restaurant, and I wasn’t overly impressed. If a French hotel chain can’t master a French restaurant, I mused, what were the chances it would do a good job with an Italian venue? But let’s just say the restaurant surprised me. Entering the venue immediately put my mind at ease: the interior was a world away from its somewhat dowdy sister restaurant. While the decor wasn’t exactly edgy, it was sleek and clean and possessed an intimate air, thanks in part to the handful of couples chatting in leather booths under crimson cylindrical lighting fixtures. What ultimately set the place apart, though, was the food. Dishes were sophisticated and unique. I was impressed with my date’s zucchini flowers battered in a gloriously brittle crust and stuffed with ricotta cheese that had been caressed with basil. Her dish succeeded in being simple. My starter, by comparison, was just a little too complicated to be recklessly enjoyable. Plump, sweet, perfectly cooked scallops sat atop a few garlicky leaves of spinach, but the dish lost its footing with the tangy passion fruit sauce at the molluscs’ side. It was difficult to know what to make of this accompaniment. It wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t entirely sure how well it fit. The dish could have passed muster if it weren’t for the next element: a bizarrely bland scoop of puréed beetroot. It was just one ingredient too many, and it destroyed any art the plate may have been working towards. Luckily, mains brought the meal back up to standard. Mounds of sweet lobster flesh nestled amid springy, freshly made tagliolini and came coated in a gorgeous, if simple, lobster sauce that added an addictive layer to the dish. My companion, meanwhile, tucked into tender, pink, drooling slivers of guinea fowl, served with a soft scoop of expertly seasoned garlic mashed potato. When a meal is as good as this, dessert is compulsory. Luckily, the portions were reasonable so we weren’t stuffed (Rococo was a quality-over-quantity sort of place). My date declared her discreet cup of tiramisu to be the best she’d had in the emirate – the coffee-drenched lady fingers at the bottom paid tribute to the Italian speciality in a way few Dubai tiramisus do. I chose what may have been the most delicate mille feuille of my life: three wafer-thin biscuits sandwiched a sweet, thick layer of marscarpone cheese and a handful of blackberries. I demolished the stack in three bites. Rococo’s was a relaxed meal, and one of the best I’ve had in a long time. My only complaint is that it’s a little overpriced. Still, if you’re in the area and you order wisely, you’re guaranteed a lovely, low-key dinner. The bill (for two) 1x Large still water Dhs30 1x King scallops Dhs95 1x Courgettes Dhs72 1x Tagliolini Dhs115 1x Guinea fowl Dhs115 1x Mille feuille Dhs42 1x Tiramisu Dhs45 Total (including 10 per cent service) Dhs514

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