By Oliver Robinson www.timeoutdubai.com
Does the food live up to gorgeous continental setting?
As its name suggests, Café Boulevard sits on the well-manicured Emaar Boulevard in Downtown Dubai, providing a great place to watch the world go by while the weather permits. Of course, it won’t permit for much longer, which is why I found myself sat on the terrace one evening, making the most of the Burj Khalifa views.
The location is near perfect. Although Downtown has been designed in the spirit of the old (meets new) Arab world, the café’s street-side location has a continental feel, fuelled by a menu laden with crêpes, tartines and other classic French snacks. The decor also has a Gallic twist – the interior is all cream, white and chrome, while the outside terrace is populated by circular marble tables, which sit under billowing cream curtains.
If the food lived up to the location, I thought to myself, I’d found a new place to enjoy breakfast. Admittedly I was visiting in the evening, but the menu and venue lent themselves perfectly to morning croisssants or a light lunch. With this in mind I ordered a crêpes Madeline, while my date opted for the tartine Dijonnaise, and we ordered a salade foie gras to share. All three dishes arrived in commendable time and the portion sizes were such that our table was soon overflowing with ivory crockery.
My crêpes Madeline proved to be a hearty pancake parcel that gave way to a creamy béchamel sauce, smoked salmon and capers – three of my favourite things. In this instance, however, the combination proved too salty. I’d hoped béchamel would temper – even sweeten – the amalgamation of capers and salmon, but if anything it accentuated their saltiness. My date didn’t fare much better with her tartine Dijonnaise: while the pastry was delightfully crumbly, the turkey ham, cheddar, grilled tomato and mustard topping proved bland and heavy. After trying a forkful for myself, her complaint, although simple, was valid: you couldn’t taste the mustard.
Ultimately, both the crêpe and tartine were too heavy for an evening snack, so our attention turned to the salade foie gras. The mixed cress and haricots verts were doused in a sweet mustard dressing, punctuated by sesame seeds. The texture and taste of the salad was accentuated by sweet cuts of fig, which added flashes of vibrant pink to the glistening nest of green. All in all, it was very good, though the only detriment was the dish’s headlining ingredient – the foie gras. Pan-seared foie gras is often hit and miss, and here it was a definite miss. The chewy exterior gave way to a soft, tasteless centre, a combination of taste and texture that the dish could have done without.
Desserts – a rich chocolate mousse and pond-sized crème brûlée – failed to redeem the meal. Neither offered much by way of taste, though the portion sizes ensured we’d slipped into a food coma before the bill arrived.
The picture-perfect location and continental vibe ensure Café Boulevard shouldn’t be dismissed. Yet I’d advise sticking to light snacks and hot beverages rather than indulging in a meal, which will leave you full, but not necessarily satisfied.
The bill (for two)
1x Salade foie gras Dhs72
1x Crêpes Madeline Dhs56
1x Tartine Dijonnaise Dhs56
1x Crème brûlée Dhs35
1x Chocolate mousse Dhs35
1x Orange juice Dhs22
1x Water Dhs18
Total (excluding service) Dhs294