Automotive concept restaurants are all the rage in Dubai these days, first with the Bentley Cafe and the Yamaha Cafe. But only one has the foodie community agog – and that is Intersect by Lexus.
Intersect by Lexus is not just a restaurant. It’s a creative hub and dining space where people can meet, work, eat and be inspired. The Dubai outlet is the second in the world, with an even larger outlet slated to open in NYC in 2017.
The idea is genius – to have a vehicle (if you will) to educate people about the Lexus philosophy. They’re not trying to push blatant Lexus propaganda on you. Or sell you a car (though you can win a weekend test drive in one of the latest models). Rather, they subtly expose you to the Lexus identity in a way that makes you think, Hey, Lexus is cool. (I know that already, I have one.)
The interiors are contemporary and cleverly blend Arabian aesthetics (the undulating ceiling represents sand dunes) with elements of the Lexus design, such as the wooden panels that represent the Lexus’s angular trapezoidal grille (which just happen to be made from bamboo, the same material used in the latest Lexus steering wheels). It’s a small area with enough seats for about 50 diners, but they also hold events in this space, such as networking receptions and an organic wine night.
Downstairs there’s a small “garage” currently showcasing a live art installation of a Lexus GS F painted by Dubai-based graphic artist, Marwan Shakarchi.
The kitchen is headed up by Chef Tomas Reger, and they’ve recently launched an a la carte Friday brunch from 1pm. The aim is to provide high quality food that makes you feel good, so there’s an emphasis on organic, sustainable and fair-trade where possible with a wide range of salads and vegetarian options on offer.
Even the music makes you feel good with these two lovelies crooning the easy listening.
There’s an open kitchen area where you can watch the bartenders prepare the drinks and the chefs put the finishing touches on the salads.
The brunch is only partly interactive – you help yourself to the salads on display which are constantly being replenished, while everything else (starters, mains, drinks and desserts) are brought directly to your table.
Most of the salads they serve (from a heirloom tomato salad, to a butternut squash and pumpkin seed pesto salad, to a heritage carrot salad) are exclusive to the brunch menu, but they did take two of their most popular menu items and add them to the brunch. One is this simple, yet delicious, kale and avocado salad, and another is a chickpea and hazelnut salad. The kale was so simple but I’ve never craved kale so much as I have since eating this salad. (OK, let’s be more specific – I’ve been craving this very salad.)
In general, the portion sizes are small, but aside from the main (of which you can choose only one), you can eat as many as you want.
Vegetarians will also be happy because there are so many veggie options, including five out of the ten starter, such as the black chickpea hummus, lentil pate, and and zucchini soup. Below was not vegetarian, but was one of my favourite dishes – the squid with sweet corn and wild rice. I’m not normally a huge fan of seafood, but the rolls of squid were perfectly salted and perfectly cooked. The pairing with sweet corn (which I love always) and puffed wild rice was unusual and provided an interesting balance of flavours and textures.
For someone who doesn’t eat a lot of seafood, the seafood dishes just happened to be calling my name on this day. And thank goodness it was so. The octopus with heirloom tomatoes and romesco sauce was equally as delicious as the squid. The octopus was simply cooked and placed atop three healthy tomatoes and a flavourful sauce made of nuts and roasted red peppers.
Since I was being all healthy, I chose a vegetarian main – the beetroot and barley risotto which had red, white and yellow beetroot on top. (Though pretty, this wasn’t my favourite dish…)
For dessert, we had the bread and butter pudding with raw coffee and white chocolate custard, which doesn’t look all that – nor was it warm like I was expecting – but was delicious.
Organic tea and coffee is included with brunch so you can while the afternoon away while reading your favourite design book should you so desire. Not quite sure what that this latte art is supposed to be, but let’s just blame it on the consistency of the soy milk, shall we?
Verdict: Simple, healthy food where the flavours shine through. Forget gluttony – this is a brunch that will make you feel good about yourself. And it’s great for vegetarians!
Note to self: Reserve a table in advance as the space is small. Hurry! Before the end of May 2016, you can get a buy-one-get-one-free brunch with The Entertainer.
Intersect by Lexus
Gate Village Building 7
Tel: 04 355 9524
Chow for now!