Taste Kitchen

Arguably a mall eatery like no other in Dubai, Taste Kitchen is a casual dining café concept created (on behalf of Spinneys) by chef duo Nick Alvis and Scott Price. Recently launched at Mercato Mall in Jumeirah, this is the first branch, with additional venues planned for Dubai Sillicon Oasis and Karama. Located in a central courtyard space on the ground floor of the mall, the set-up of Taste Kitchen is not actually enclosed. Instead, dividing pillars and faux-windows are artfully used to denote the demarcations of the café’s boundaries, achieving a bright, open airiness as a result. The clean and contemporary use of grey tones, teamed with touches of green (created with a dividing shelf of plants) and earthy beige with little potted plants in hessian sacks on each table, creates an urban feel, yet with slight nods to a rustic, garden kitchen. Service is perfectly perfunctory for a casual, mall-based café. Staff are friendly, they know what is on the menu and food arrives on time – although perhaps a little too quickly, one after the other. The menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner plates, which span soups, ‘jars and toast’, salads, pizzas and main courses from fish and chips (made using sustainable sheri fish) through to baby chicken with root vegetables. There is also a list of fresh juices, which are cutely served in kilner jars, along with environmentally friendly paper straws. First to arrive was a board of long strips of focaccia-like bread, which was sweet, doughy – nearly cakey even – but had a buttery, biscuit crunch to the crust. Next was an appetiser ordered from the ‘jars and toast’ section: smoked mackerel with fennel and cucumber. This was served with a very generous portion of nutty brown toast. The paté itself was (pleasantly) rough and rustic in texture, with large flakes of sweet and smoky fish and a bite of freshness from little chunks of cucumber, which had a particularly concentrated flavour. The beef short rib main course with greens arrived looking appetisingly clean, modern and colourful, with plenty of varied and vibrantly green vegetables sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Alongside the beef consommé served on the side, eating this dish was a little like the sensation of eating an excellent pho, just without the noodles. The beef was deliciously tender, and just the right side of fatty. Each of the vegetables (including broccolini, green peas, mangetout and bok choi) had a crisp crunch of freshness to it, and the beef consommé had an intensely meaty, umami-filled flavour, with a note of star anise to it. While the little hedgehog-like lemon meringue pie also looked as pretty as a picture, it was perhaps the least enjoyable of the dishes. Still good, but the little meringue points lacked colour and textural variation, meaning they were soft, chewy and more like marshmallow than meringue. Nonetheless, the price of each individual dish is fair and fairly typical for the average café. The food, meanwhile, is generally much more interesting and, especially in the case of the beef short rib, more delightful to eat. Taste Kitchen is great new home-grown concept. The bill (for one) 1x smoked mackerel pate Dhs50 1x beef short rib Dhs75 1x lemon meringue pie Dhs25 1x Turkish coffee Dhs14 1x juice Dhs22 Total (excluding service) Dhs186

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