Our review of the French Mediterranean restaurant by Dubai’s famous Chef Izu Ani
When it comes to authentic, delicious and lip-lip-smacking French and Italian cuisine, I highly doubt anyone thinks twice about eateries like La Petite Maison and La Serre. When you’re craving something a little more Mediterranean, you’ve got The Lighthouse at one of Dubai’s most prominent locations, Dubai Design District.
But who is the brainchild behind all of this you might ask? French-trained, award-winning and well acclaimed ‘Chef Izu Ani’ is the mastermind behind these innovative concepts. Born in Nigeria but raised in the UK, Izu has known to have made his name across Dubai’s prominent fine dining scene. Every single establishment of his has his personal magic touch to it. Izu has made it very clear that he believes that everyone deserves to eat good food. A very honest approach in ensuring the diner receives nothing but the finest of delicacies.
French cuisine dates back to the 14th century and although back in those times it was heavily influenced by Italian culture, as time went by, the French decided to approach a more indigenous way of doing things heavily dominated by cheese and wine.
Today most French eateries try to acquaint people with the traditional countryside type of cuisine. Bringing different elements to the table, every time you step into a diner, the adventure begins right there.
Carine was no exception. The moment we stepped into the bistro at their Emirates Golf Club premises, we were up for a gastronomic adventure. Though we were in for dinner, it was evident that there was a lot of emphasis on natural light entering the warm and cozy interiors. I mean this is the kind of place that would be perfect for any given situation. Casual dates, family brunches, corporate meetings, meeting with friends and so on.
Fun fact, the bistro has actually been named after Chef Izu’s wife ‘Carine’, and hence is filled with all her unique favorites.
Let’s just start off with the moment you’re seated at the table. The hostesses are extremely warm and welcoming. The waiters are extremely professional and know what exactly is expected from them. I mean it’s like these guys have been trained for years. Top quality five star service.
Now I’m a fan of good bread. I mean, can you blame me for going bonkers over those freshly baked bread at Cheesecake Factory? My expectations were already set high
for the bread, given Chef Izu’s expertise in the fine art. His bakery at City Walk should give you enough compelling reasons to get uber pumped.
I wasn’t disappointed. The bread was fresh. Crispy toasty from the outside. Soft and succulent from the inside. I mean from the aroma to the crunchy sounds of the bread cracking, yep, I was severely impressed.
We decided to go with the chef’s recommendations for every course of our meal. We wanted to be surprised given how Carine comprises of French-Mediterranean delicacies, and I was already starving and didn’t have time to think.
Our first appetizer was the ‘Salads de pastèque, forage de féta, chapeaux d’amande et basilic’. The dish is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. I mean, you would think a combination of watermelon with feta cheese, almond flakes and basil would sound a little too plain. You’re wrong! It was sort of an explosion of flavors in my mouth. The sweetness of the freshly sliced watermelon and the tanginess of the feta cheese was simply irresistible. It was a work of art on the plate too. Lot of colors. Typical instagram worthy dish.
Our next appetizer was the ‘Salade de pommes, haricots vert, foie gras et noix’. Again, it’s like the French wants to seduce your appetite with just the name. Neatly chopped apples with green beans and foie gras salad nicely tossed with some fresh walnuts for a nice added touch. Now the thing about foie gras is that it is an acquired taste so I guess maybe it’s not me but still a unique experience.
Last but not the least in the appetizers was definitely my personal favorite, The ‘Crevettes grillées à la sauce harissa’ and in case you’re wondering, that would be ‘Grilled harissa prawns’. My past few reviews of all the bistros I’ve dined at make it clear that I’m an avid seafood fan and I’m not easily impressed with ordinary stuff. But Carine lived up to its mark and served me the best prawn I’ve had in a long-long time. It was cooked to perfection. Nicely tossed in some succulent sauces. Even opening up the shell and scooping out that pearl white meat was a delight. Definitely a recommended dish from the starters menu.
When it comes to the main course, people often look forward to having something rather ravishing. Something that will enable you to eat to your heart’s content and go back home with a smile. Our first main arrived on the table and we were already smiling before digging right into it.
The ‘Filet de bar roti a la sauce tomate accompagne de riz au sumac’ is every seafood fanatic’s dream dish. Roasted filet of sea bass with tomato sauce and sumac rice. Not only was the fillet super fresh, crispy on the outside and packed in flavors, it was also very moist and succulent in flavors. A mix of tanginess from the tomatoes with the perfect combination of sumac and rice to balance the flavors, every bite is only going to make it crave for more.
The next dish on the table was the “Faux-filer de veau grille et marine au yaourt et aux herbes” This is no ordinary dish. For all you carnivores out there, this dish is going to leave quite a tasteful impact in your life. Soft and juicy slices of meat with beautiful aromas emanating from the dish in a seductive manner, you just can’t be blamed for taking a bite as soon as it lands on the table. I’ve had French cuisine before on numerous occasions. But every dish at Carine is a work of art. I mean, you could just stare at the plate being mesmerized by the appearance of the dish to fill you up. Kidding. That’s impossible. I’d probably eat like 5 of those for all you know it. Anyway, it’s definitely a unique dish that you should try if you are a meat lover.
“Gambas grilles a la pomme et al’harissa”, yep. I ordered another prawn dish. I mean come on. You know I’m south Indian and we eat seafood like it’s practically the end of the world. Grilled Tiger prawns need to be eaten with surgical precision to make the most of every bite. And topped off with Apple-harissa relish. We’ve got the best of both worlds again. Not only was it a lot of fun to open up the prawn and take a bite of its meat, but the visual representation of the dish was also stellar. The prawns tasted so fresh that it was like as if it were just been taken out of the ocean and served on the plate. Quite an eventful evening I must admit.
Here’s the thing with me and desserts. I love sweets. But there’s a fine line between having the right amount of sweetness and going overboard killing all the flavors. The waiter recommended we try their signature, ‘Tiramisu’. Now, this is a pretty conventional dish available at most eateries. I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary yet Carine managed to impress me once again. Not only was the Tiramisu perfectly balanced in flavor, but they also didn’t go overboard with the sweetness. It’s practically meant for all you health conscious folks who want to indulge on.
The Passionfruit cheesecake was nice but wasn’t anything special worth specifically mentioning. Had the right texture and perfect balance of passionfruit glazed on top but wouldn’t be a dish you’d specifically come to Carine for.
“Brownie a la guimauve et creme anglaise” was definitely the star of the evening. A mix of hot and cold, every time I’d take a bite, I’d have tiny tears rolling down my cheeks. How can a dessert be so beautiful and rich at the same time? This is legit nothing but pure guilty pleasure. Not only did it have a creamy texture, but you also had that brownie punch exploding in your mouth.
Carine has managed to exceed all our expectations for a French dinner. Artistic interiors, family-like staff and stellar food, makes this the go-to place for all your rich French fantasies. You could bring your family here or your friends and you can be rest assured, they’re all going to have a good time and a satisfied tummy. Chef Izu is serious about offering his diners nothing but the best and it’s always experiences like these that make you come back wanting for more.