2015 was a good year, Alhumdulillah. I went back to work, started a blog, and gained 5 kilos- with the good comes the bad, right? I continued buying way more dishcloths than I need; found an amazing robot duster that sweeps my floors all day; visited my grandparents; upped my food photography game, and grew as a home-cook (Note to self: anise and cumin look alike but are NOT). I also managed to grow some petunias- still no luck with the basil, though *sigh*.
My last meal of 2015 was befittingly at Din Tai Fung, and my first meal of 2016 was of healthy pancakes and ginger tea, at home. This very aptly sums up how my life has been over the past year: making snow angels in a lot of great food, be it outside or at home, indulgent or healthy. My resolution to be more selective in how and where I consume my calories has been going well so far. I decided to start 2016’s dining out experience on a high note, at the rightfully hyped Fume. This place has been on my must-visit list for a while now, especially since I found out that my blogger-friend Mitzie Mee frequents it. I love Mitzie Mee; she’s a great person, a barrel of fun, and does not sugar coat anything- something I respect her a lot for. So when I got an invite to review Fume, I penciled it in for lunchtime the first Saturday of the year, and could not have been more excited.
M and I opted for the Fume outside Manzil Downtown, as they don’t yet have their liquor license and the one on Pier 7 does, (I’m one of those people who prefer non-boozey places) sadly they will be getting their liquor license very soon (cries). Fume on Pier 7 has been around for a couple of years and has earned itself quite the fan following, but the one on Manzil- which has been around only for 4 months- is quick to follow suit. We went to a full house of happy diners, and understandably so- the food was delicious and the full house suggested we weren’t the only ones who thought so!
Since it was a tasting, the chef had prepared a set menu for us comprising of some of their best sellers. This was a pleasant surprise and an unusual occurrence for a solo tasting, but a welcome one as it was refreshing not to have to (a) rack my brain trying to pick and choose what to order and (b) get swarmed by the chef sending out the entire menu which leads to way too many leftovers for comfort.
Our choice of drinks was a mocktail called Raspberry Mule, and a carrot-green apple juice. The former was a most unique drink, made of ginger ale, raspberries, and chili!
The appetizers were:
- The biggest, fattest, softest (on the inside), crispy (on the outside) Soft-Shell Crab, with a light vinegar slaw that perfectly cut the richness of the crab with it’s tartness. What took this appitizer to the next level, was the spicy jalapeno dressing. Omg. This. Was so. GOOD!
- Crispy Duck Salad: I don’t know how they managed to do this but this crispy duck wasn’t tough or chewy at all- it was super tender. Tossed in some hoisin sauce with watermelon, cashews, pomegranate, pomelo, coriander and mint, it wasn’t the BEST crispy duck salad I’ve ever had but certainly up there in the highest ranks.
- Steak Tartare with slow-cooked Organic Egg: Amongst the best steak tartare we’ve had till date. The crispy artichoke chips and grilled bruschetta were the perfect accompaniment!
Our choice of Mains was:
- Hot Smoked Norweigian Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce and Pickled Cucumber: this one was a winner for me, as far too many restaurants tend to overcook salmon for comfort. Impressively enough, Fume smokes the salmon in-house, in their production facility, which is supercool, FYI.
- Pulled Beef Brisket on a Kayser bun with vinegar slaw. This is one of their best sellers and it’s no surprise. This is like a grown-up, elevated version of a Sloppy Joe. Oozing with flavor and dripping with BBQ sauce, this will lure M back very, very soon.
- Baby Chicken Sheesh Tawook: served with some grilled lemon, I can imagine this to be popular among the Middle-Eastern tastebuds. The chicken was seasoned and grilled well and wasn’t dry, but given a choice I’d go for something else.
- Smashed Potatoes: Imagine baked potatoes, but better. These little babies are boiled (skin-on), smashed, and then fried. Topped with the best creme fraiche dressing I’ve ever had on a potato with some bacon, these are a great side for all potato lovers out there. I think the creme fraiche was a great alternative to sour cream.
- So we had the famous Lew’s dark Chocolate & Orange Mousse. It was as rich and chocolatey yet light and creamy as the description promised, but it didn’t blow my mind as much as I expected. It WAS very good though, but perhaps just not what my palate wanted after the meal I had just had. I loved the bites in which I got the candied orange zest the most.
- Apple Pie with Vanilla Icecream: My favorite part was the vanilla bean ice-cream. The apple pie was good, but again, nothing outstanding.
Since I had woken up early that day and spent the morning sorting out closets, doing laundry and clearing out the fridge; M and I spent a good couple of hours just chilling out and unwinding on our outdoor table overlooking Emaar Blvd. It was one of our best casual dining experiences till date. Our server was well-versed on the menu and clearly knew his food, and the manager- Equardo- was most delightful! One thing that really stood out was that when we were irritated by the flies (which is not uncommon when sitting outdoors), our server was quick to bring some burning coffee, as opposed to the annoying “Sorry Madam, it’s outside, what can we do?” that I hear way too often.
Fume, in a nutshell, is serving up some really great gourmet food in a casual, somewhat retro environment. Everything I tried was amongst the best sellers, hence really good; but my trusted friends tell me there are some hits and misses. The beef in the Lettuce Kimchi Wraps, for instance, has reportedly been too tough recently, and I wasn’t entirely impressed by the desserts we tried but I hear their Lemon Merengue Pie is to kill for. Will I be going back? Big fat yes, for SURE!
Oh, and guess what? They accept Entertainer vouchers! You’re welcome.