[Big Bite] Restaurant Reviews: La Residence
Fine dining and French cuisine certainly go hang in hand and the city of Dubai is no exception. When La Residence reached out and invited me to experience their newly launched ladies night, I quickly declined, Michelin star Chef Fredric Vardon isn’t know for his mastery of cocktails after all. He is however known for his mastery of refined countryside farm-to-table cuisine so I eagerly suggested that I have a go at their entire a la carte menu instead.
The Parisian-style brasserie sits at the facade of the Raffles Hotel with a private entrance and swaps stuffy dining room for luxe bistro. A grand piano, crystal chandeliers and vintage candleholders provide old European glamour while art deco paintings, a rustic wine cellar and open kitchen provide a contemporary chic contrast.
We settled among a sea of stilettos alongside their dapper dates all clinking away with their wine glasses and pastoral dinnerware, it was a charming and unpretentious scene. And the ambiance was contagious, it wasn’t long before I ordered a glass of The Velvet Devil myself, Washington State’s finest and the best Merlot I’ve had in a very long time. The menu is quintessentially French with foie gras starters, duck delights and sweet souffle’s, all of which we ordered in an effort to get acquainted with Chef Vardon, several dishes of which mimic his Michelin starred Le 39V in Paris.
Two butter-like medallions arrived first, they were just as smooth, just as rich and just as delicate as butter but had the very distinct foie gras essence. The French delicacy was paired with fig jam for a sweet contrast however I personally prefer the saltier, seared rendition of Duck liver. The Tuna Tartar was robust with simple flavors of lemon and olive oil but the Pea Soup stole the show. The soup was vibrant, refreshing and savory all at once, the bowl arrived with a circular stack of crunchy greens atop creamy goat’s curd in the center, the chilled soup was delicately poured into the bowl table side, nailing both presentation and taste.
We diversified our mains, covering off on land, sea and air. The scallops arrived first and was the most disappointing dish of the evening, several scallops were disguised as potatoes providing a three to five ratio of scallops to potatoes for a overwhelmingly starchy main. Our optional black truffle upgrade was nowhere to be found, our waiter pointed to a few tiny black speckles on the plate when asked stating that the truffle was infused into the sauce, an infusion I could neither taste nor see.
The Duck with Orange however quickly redeemed La Residence, the main arrived in a ceramic baking dish interlaced with generous pieces of duck and orange, resting over a thin shrak-like bread. The potent orange provided a sweet and sticky contrast to the fatty bird, receiving the nod of approval from my mother-in-law, the family connoisseur on French food. My husband opted for the tenderloin instead, a true testament to the gimmick-free brasserie, the pyramid of beef arrived naked and vulnerable accompanied only by a simple gravy boat of peppercorn sauce, a triumphantly tender cut of meat.
Giving another French classic a go, the Classic Grand Marnier Souffle’s exterior was toasted to perfection with just enough caramelized sugar on the crust. The gooey center however could have benefited from a few more minutes in the oven as it still had a pronounced egg taste. The French Toast Brioche with Salted Caramel Ice Cream on the other hand was a celebration of all things sweet, an unusual find on the Parisian-inspired menu and a lovely interpretation of the breakfast staple. The synergy of textures blending french toast and brioche provided a fluffy and flaky foundation for the dessert, the drizzled salted caramel and vanilla ice cream made for an outstanding symphony of flavors.
La Residence will put all of your preconceived notions about stuffy dining rooms to rest with its elegantly refined menu, eclectic ambiance and excellent service. As Chef Vardon puts it, “A kitchen respects those who cultivate, sow, grow and harvest the good products for a love story between man and nature.” And although the kitchen could benefit from the presence of Vardon himself, the brasserie is a fine example of dedication to seasonally inspired farm fresh cuisine.
Disclaimer: I was a guest at La Residence however as always all opinions expressed here are solely my own.