[Little Bite] Restaurant Review: Pots, Pans & Boards
We’ve heard it all before, Michelin star chef parks in Dubai tacking another celebrity chef establishment to the UAE’s high profile restaurant roster. This summer was no exception, the influx of celebrity chefs is a stark reminder of Dubai’s evolving and ambitious culinary scene and Chef Tom Aiken’s farm-chic Pots, Pans & Boards is indicative of just that. Aiken’s steps outside of the box and onto The Beach to debut his bold casual eatery, which could rival that of any five star hotel, defying most celebrity chef cliches.
Aikens is not only known for being the youngest British chef to ever be awarded two Michelin stars at just 26, he also has restaurants around the globe in London, Hong Kong, Istanbul and has published many a cookbook. His new Dubai Marina venture, inspired by childhood memories, is a sharing-style concept with a name very telling of his the restaurant and menu itself. The eatery takes rustic to a new level blurring the lines between a kitchen pantry and farm property. The space is draped in countryside finishings, mismatched furniture, reclaimed wood, faux copper pot chandeliers and endless shelves stocked with pantry goods, flee market trinkets and cookery.
In contrast to the space, the menu is quite simple boasting homestyle European classics, Aiken often uses modest ingredients but manages to elevate them beautifully. His take on hummus sees the combination of white beans and black garlic, he serves up fresh shrimp with only a simple garlic aioli and classic Ricotta with sweet aged Balsamic Vinegar, all crowdpleasers. A beef tartare demo was like a magician performing a trick, fast, effortless and skillful, not to mention absolutely sublime. Do indulge in the generous Label Rouge Raz Al Hanout Chicken with glazed heritage carrots and the Malt Glazed Short Rib with crispy onions and celeriac truffle (pictured above) which both show off Aikens cooking methods and boast the breadth of his contribution to the trendy seaside enclave.
All dishes are served in a pot, pan or on a board, hence the name, reinforcing the sharing concept, even the New York Cheesecake and Apple Crumble arrived on miniature cutting boards. Be sure to try the Salted Caramel Tart, my personal favorite, which is both sweet, salty and gushes with dense caramel. Pots, Pans & Boards swaps fine dining for accessible-casual while maintaining Aikens caliber and quality, a rare find. Aiken’s docks at just the right time proving that you don’t need to put on your prom dress and dine in five star hotels to have a great meal in this city, a significant contribution to Dubai’s casual dining scene.
Disclaimer: I was invited to preview the menu at Pots, Pans & Boards however all opinions expressed here are my own.