It’s been a few weeks since I dined at this elegant establishment, and it upsets me how quickly time flies before I get to share my experiences with you all. Oh well, better late than never, right? 🙂
The Artisan; by Enoteca Pinchiorri brings a taste of Florence to the fine dining hub of Dubai, in DIFC, after already having established strong foothold in Japan. The Artisan is a more casual take on the still classy and romantic parent brand. The executive chef here is from the original Florentine team and he is cooking up a storm. I was lucky enough to be invited here for a tasting, so I put on my proper shoes and headed out.
The first mistake I made was that as soon as I read “DIFC”, I just assumed it meant the Gate Village. Wrong; it’s actually in Burj Daman, right across the road. I later found out it’s a common mistake so I figured I should put that out there. There was no second mistake though. The best part of this mistake was that unlike the Gate Village, there was no queue for parking and we swiftly found our way to the elegant, dimly-lit, grey-walled trattoria that would provide us with an extremely pleasant evening, delicious meal, and my biggest weakness: white and grey streaked marble top tables (most were covered in white table cloths though) and flatware so mouthwatering that I had to try really hard not to pocket them.
We started off with pillow soft focaccia, followed by the best mini pizzas I’ve had in a very long time. Our favorite was the kind with truffles, black olives, pine nuts and Taleggio cheese- and any regular reader will have guessed by now/anticipate the truffle-induced glimmer in M’s eyes was followed by truffle-induced snow angels.
Before I talk more about the food, can we just talk about the mocktails for a minute? We need to talk about these mocktails. First of all, they were HUGE. Secondly, the menu came with these cute hand-drawn and pencil-colored illustrations that were ever so endearing. I went for The Artisan Cooler, which had just the right amount of (not overwhelming) lavender flavor, and a stem of lavender and blueberries frozen in a long ice-cube, swimming around in my mocktail. Mahmood had this other one that I can’t remember the name of, and even though he said it was nice, I doubt it was as good as mine – please don’t hate.
Next up we were brought a sweet beetroot salad infused with white vinegar, with veal stock and Greek yogurt. I’m not a fan of beetroot but this salad was really sour and went down easy. It was also the ideal accompaniment to the grilled octopus we had, as the acidity of the former cut through the richness of the latter like a knife through butter.
The grilled octopus, oh GOD the grilled octopus! I am almost ALWAYS disappointed by grilled seafood as it’s overcooked, dry, tough, and tasteless more often than not. The big, fat, juicy tentacles of THIS octopus though…..I couldn’t even must up the energy to make my signature snow angels. This was absolute, sheer, food BLISS.
Our third starter though, the marinated prawns with ginger quinoa, and fried leeks on a parmesan fondue was not just dwarfed in comparison but shockingly underwhelming. The description had my expectations placed on a pedestal but they came crashing down with the first bite. The quinoa had no flavor at all, let alone that of ginger; the prawns were bland, especially in comparison to the briny octopus; the leeks added a crispy texture value, but that’s about it.
The angnolotti that followed quickly pulled the game up again. The sweetness from the pumpkin, salty, creamy, richness from the parmesan and crunch from the almonds made for a Bethoven’s symphony of textures and flavors. I really liked this. M didn’t like this too much but honestly he has just always been racist against pumpkin in general.
The lamb chops with aubergine puree followed suit; seared to a perfect medium well, they were absolutely fantastic.
The grand finale was the salt-crusted Seabass. Truth be told, my heart sank when I saw it, because as pretty as it is to look at, contrary to what the name/method of cooking may imply, salt-crusted fish (although juicy and moist), tastes under-seasoned on the whole. HOWEVER, once they cut it out for us and beautifully plated it with a tomato, caper and onion confit, I was floored by how delicious the combination was.
Dessert was an assortment of gelato and sorbets (both M and I preferred the former); and the Cremino by Artisan, which was three layers of chocolate: 70% dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate with candied hazelnut and hazelnut ice cream. Also, please take a moment to appreciate those plates.
One small but substantial observation I made and appreciated was that there were a couple of other bloggers there too and all of us were served different items. This made me realize that they were genuinely looking for honest feedback and not just serving a “blogger template menu” of their star dishes. My observation was reaffirmed when my feedback was effectively communicated by our server (a delightful lady named Marina- she assured us her name is hard to forget and she was right 🙂 ) to the manager, who then came to personally ask us to elaborate on what we didn’t like. With cork coasters and Michelin star-worthy service, The Artisan is a welcome addition to Dubai. Thanks for having us.