While I’m super duper excited about Ramadan, I’m not too crazy about buffet lines, and sometimes want options that aren’t entirely Arabesque; which is why it was wildly refreshing to go for the Wednesday evening brunch at Intersect By Lexus the other night.
The first thing you see as soon as you walk in to Intersect by Lexus, is a wide staircase leading down to a bright blue Lexus parked on a glass floor which makes you feel like you’re walking on air above a flat lay of car parts from 9 different Lexus models. The Lexus parked is never “just a car”. It’s not a showroom. It is will always be a canvas for art or make a statement of some sort. Next to it is a stealthily hidden door that leads you to a narrow corridor that displays 152 miniature cars.
Lexus have discreetly repositioned itself as a progressive luxury lifestyle brand that associates automotive with art, culture, and (because they’re Japanese) gastronomy. In light of that, they’ve created a third space or comfort zone that falls between home and work, hence the name “Intersect by Lexus”; and here they want to create an intersection between the influential, the culinary, and the cultured. They aimed to create a space where people are comfortable enough to work and to relax and can find sophisticated meals that still provide the comfort of home-cooked ones, all the while satisfying the currently trending, health conscious diner. Having been there myself, I can safely say that it certainly is a cosy den-like place where I would not mind heading to, to get some work done after leaving the office and having a delicious bite to eat.
We walked into this suave, modern yet cosy “third space” the other night only to be welcomed and made more comfortable by the resident saxophonist playing sweet tunes at just the right decibels and his vocalist knew how to carry a note. An eclectic collection of books for your reading pleasures lined all the pillars and most walls, the rest of which were laced with motifs of the spindle grill that adorns Lexus cars. The books add a very homey touch and are changed 4 times a year.
A web-like chandelier made of retro light bulbs (deigned by Lindsey Adelman) hangs on a wonder wall type ceiling that is meant to (and manages to) look like sand dunes, because they wanted one of the elements to be region specific and represent the Middle East.
In 2012, Lexus went into designing and editing and have a magazine called Beyond. The frames on the wall all include pages of the magazine, and are changed four times a year, just as often as the magazine rolls out a new issue.
They also have a little merchandise corner called Crafted, in which you can find scarves, gloves and other accessories that compliment either fashion, travel or work. Everything is made by Japanese craftsmen and is a collaboration between Lexus and Milan fashion week. They hope to short list an Emirati designer for the next line as they want to support and promote local.
If you’re a car buff like M, you’ll realize as soon as you’re seated that the seats are upholstered the the same LFA leather that is used in the Lexus sports car. The menu is bound in an LFA cover as well, and withholds a cosmopolitan selection of healthy but sophisticated options that source as much local produce as possible and promise to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
We were there for the Wednesday evening brunch, priced at AED 180, which allows you unlimited trips to (what in my opinion was) the best salad bar ever, unlimited helpings of the “small plates”, one portion of any of the “large plates”, umlimited desserts (but then you only have two options to pick from) and unlimited soft beverages. The salad is something you’re going to have to get up and go help yourself to, but everything else is brought to your table. While the salad bar was small and concise (only four options), it packed SO much oomph and was worth making several trips for! It was impossible to pick a favorite; I was almost equally impressed by the chickpea and hazelnut salad, the roasted butternut salad with pumpkin seed pesto, the heritage beetroot salad and the kohlrabi with labneh.
Other “small plates” included black chickpea hommus, lentil pate on unleavened buckwheat bread (the “bread” was paperthin and soft), carrot emulsion and yogurt on linseed cracker (these “crackers” were soft too), smoked & spiced duck breast with berry compote and parsley oil, warm crab meat (this was the only thing that I really didn’t like) and last but not the least: the beef brisket gyoza. A moment of silence is in order for this phenomenal gyoza that made me break my self imposed rule for tastings, and demanded that I ask for seconds. Every single table was asking for multiple rounds of these juicy, umami-full babies.
We were close to full by the time we were done with the salads and small plates, but much to our pleasure, even the “large plates” were quite appropriately portioned and sophisticatedly presented. M chose the wagyu steak with roasted cauliflower puree, and I went for the corn-fed chicken and butternut/carrot puree. Hold on, before you smack yourself in the forehead and wonder how could I possibly not the tell the difference, hear me out. I forgot to note it down and now I can’t remember what it was, haha! But what I do remember is that while M was supremely pleased with his dish and while his puree was very flavorful, mine was pretty bland and under-seasoned. The puree with the chicken could really have used more onion, garlic, salt, pepper….basically everything.
Dessert was some carrot cake with hazelnut sabayon and labneh. The carrot cake was firmer than normal, and the sabayon hadn’t the faintest hint of hazelnuts, but I loved, loved, LOVED the sharp salty and tart contrast the labneh provided. We also had the “Intersect Oreos”, which tasted like date and apricot Maamools. I must admit, I was a tad disappointed at not having more dessert options to pick from.
Intersect by Lexus first opened their doors in Tokyo in 2013, have now paved their way to Dubai, and are now on their way to the Meat Packing District in New York. It is certainly an amusing and welcome addition to DIFC, in a city that’s always racing to come up with the next unique idea. As far as the food is concerned, while all the items were very thoughtfully conceived and presented with sophistication, some of them could be better seasoned.
Thanks for having me guys.