Having opened to much hype a few months ago, this spacious restaurant and lounge is divided into different zones, with luxe furnishings, mood lighting and quirky touches such as a gun-themed bar background wall, and funky lamps.
Greg Malouf, the Australian celebrity chef behind the restaurant, is known for bringing contemporary twists to classic Middle Eastern flavours and he does that with great flair in this sharing-style menu.
Although the menu is refreshingly not too long, everything sounds so delicious, choosing isn’t easy! From the cold sharing dishes’ selection, my friend and I opted for the duck shawarma salad – a new way to eat this regional favourite; the golden spiced calamari with tahini and eggplant, again, an innovative way to bring the flavours of hummous and mouttabel into an unlikely but tasty partnership with succulent calamari; and a fresh, light Italian burrata with courgette salad, given an Arabic makeover with a za’aatar and pomegranate dressing.
There are no main courses as such, but the hot sharing dishes are slightly larger portions. Our choices of the tandoori French quail with peppers and pine nuts and the signature lamb shoulder in baharat spices with goats’s cheese mash – melt-off-the-bone meat served with a smouldering side of hay, to add an element of theatre and smokiness to the dish - were both scrumptious.
The dessert selection, in a similar vein, takes traditional Arabic and makes them modern – our thousand layer pressed apple cake with lime mousse and honey wafers was a showcase of extreme culinary finesse, while the honey and yoghurt pannacotta offered an innovative take on a classic.
Throughout the meal, the dexterity and subtlety that Greg is known for, came through, to make for the sort of exquisite food that is something of a rarity in Dubai. While Cle is popular as a nightspot, I believe, now that it’s found its feet, it’s high time the real hero of the venue, the food, gets its moment in the sun.
If you want to go: Around Dhs550 for two, without drinks. Call 04-3525150.
Best for: When you want to impress someone or a special night out