It’s been a week of chefs this week, starting with Atul Kochhar and Tom Aikens at Taste of Dubai, and now Luke Thomas, Britain’s youngest-ever head chef. In case your British chef knowledge is not so hot, Luke won Springboard’s FutureChef competition at the tender age of 15, worked with chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Gary Rhodes, and had a stint at Dubai’s very own Burj al Arab – before launching his first overseas venture in Dubai last year when he was just 21.
Retro Feasts turned one this week, so Luke was in town to celebrate and unveil a selection of special edition dishes which will be on the menu for the next few weeks.
If you’ve never been inside this quirky diner, you’ll find it beachside in one of the pods that usually houses the changing rooms. The interior – from the red telephone box that doubles as an entrance, to the figurines of the Queen, to the Keep Calm posters and Union Jack mural – is a kitschy nod to the best of British. Plus there’s a foosball table and pleasant outdoor seating overlooking the beach.
The menu is simple and holds true to the retro theme featuring British classics and comfort food such as cheese toasties, prawn cocktails, coronation chicken, spag bol, fish finger sandwiches, fish and chips, mac and cheese, and knickerbocker glory. Though, it has to be said – historically, Britain’s not been known for its food so based on the menu, I had never before felt compelled to dine here.
But on this occasion, Luke himself was there to shatter my biases with his new creations including coronation crab pappadums, buttermilk fried chicken sliders, and black forest gâteau milkshakes – all of which will feature on the Retro Feasts menu for a limited time.
Below is Chef Luke with his coronation crab pappadums – a mix of crab, yogurt, curry powder, and mango (plus many other ingredients) on a light crisp pappadum. Dare I say I thought the crab was just soft chicken! Regardless, this starter is delicate and tasty, though not very filling.
The dish that really wowed me was the buttermilk fried chicken slider with a sriracha mayo and a red cabbage, red onion and red apple coleslaw. The bun, so soft. The chicken, so tender. The mayo, so moreish. And the slaw was perfect – subtle with a touch of sesame oil (plus other indistinguishable ingredients that only talented chefs know how to combine just right, in order to make their food so addictive). This is the burger that has me salivating and will keep me coming back.
This black forest gâteau milkshake will harken more memories of bygone times. This chocolate milkshake has a black cherry sauce, whipped cream, and is sprinkled with pieces of chocolate cake. A great retro way to wash down an already satisfying meal.
Verdict: Not only is Luke super-young and super-sweet, but he’s also super-talented. If the standard menu items are as good as his specialty items, then I will definitely be back. Brits, get ready for some nostalgia value.
Note to self: Totally sold on the fried chicken slider, so I’m now compelled to sample some of Chef Luke’s other British classics.
Opposite JBR The Walk
Tel: 052 722 6462
Chow for now!