The festive season is here! So not only does that mean it’s cooling down in Dubai, but it’s also when the restaurants whip out their festive menus.
I recently had the opportunity to sample the festive menu at Mint Leaf of London at the Dubai International Financial Centre which is on offer until 3o December.
This is a stunning Indian fine dining restaurant on the 15th floor of the South Tower of Emirates Financial Towers. There’s a separate bar, lounge and restaurant where stylish foodies can enjoy a swish cocktail and nibble on aloo chaat from a martini glass.
But what on earth would an Indian restaurant serve in their festive menu, you ask?
Well, of course you have to start with a mulled wine. I was somewhat secretly hoping it was spiced with chai masala, but no Indian fusion mulled wine here. This was a traditional mulled wine with cinnamon and orange. It was my first mulled wine of the season and it was delicious.
And it wouldn’t be festive without a second and third tipple. Mint Leaf has a creative list of cocktails including the Tungsten Light Bulb. This drink arrives on a platter with an illuminated glass of ice and your drink inside a light bulb.
Here’s my Georgia Peach Julep. I was wondering why the waiter asked me if I liked ice. This sweet peach nectar is served in a cold copper mug over crushed ice – and with crushed ice stuck to the outside.
This is a fine dining restaurant after all, so starters arrived on a pristine white plate with a swish of beetroot paint. A perfectly cooked murgh malai (chicken), a mushroom and spinach cutlet, two pieces of lamb tikka, a mini veggie skewer, and a luscious corn and cashew soup.
The mains arrived in more traditional Indian sharing style. It has to be said. Indian food’s not the most photogenic food out there. The gravies, with the exception of the jalfrezi, were all a similar creamy consistency. Nothing was particularly spicy, but I think they purposely made it that way for our Western palates.
Ready for the close ups? Lamb gravy – creamy red gravy flavoured with ground coriander.
Goan chicken curry – flavoured with chili, coconut and cinnamon, and no doubt the other standard spices.
Paneer kofta – gram flour dumplings in a creamy yellow gravy. I was pretty sure that was edible foil. But the big piece on the kofta at 12 o’clock threw me so I had to ask. (Yes, it’s edible foil!)
Veggie jalfrezi – paneer, beans, carrots and peppers and broccoli in a thick tomato gravy.
Turkey biryani – this is the second time I’ve eaten turkey biryani. The first being in a restaurant in Bangalore that also served rabbit biryani. Let’s just say I’ll stick to mutton.
But what really stole the show was the cranberry and cheese naan. What better way to celebrate the holidays Indian-style than with a naan stuffed with dried cranberries? I love my naan soft, and this naan was soft and squidgy with a slightly sweet, slightly tart and slightly savoury flavour. What a way to put a spin on the ol’ Peshwari. I eschewed the biryani and spent the majority of the evening dipping my cranberry naan in the three gravies in rotation. I can’t decide which I liked more.
I know you’re wondering what it looked like on the inside, and I had a special request from one of my Instagram followers, so here you are: #foodporn
For dessert, the menu listed warm Christmas pudding, however it was more like a not-so-warm plum cake with not so many plums and very unlike Christmas pudding. My personal pet peeve is erroneously named items – and I adore Christmas pudding, so this was a double disappointment for me. But it has to be said, India is not typically known for its desserts so I won’t hold this against them.
But having said that, I hear they serve a mean gulab jamun cheesecake. I love East-West fusion and unusual combinations, so if this were my dessert, I’m sure it would have been a different story.
There was also a refreshing pineapple sorbet flavoured with a dose of coarsely ground pepper. I’d have liked the fruit to pack more of a punch, but it was still a great way to round off the meal.
Verdict: Gorgeous setting, great cocktails, lovely food. Great place to impress or when you feel like having some posh Indian.
Note to self: Next time, leave the car at home. The drinks menu deserves my full attention. Plus, three words: gulab jamun cheesecake.
Mint Leaf of London
15th Floor, South Tower
Emirates Financial Towers
Dubai International Financial Centre
Chow for now!