It’s been a while since I posted a food review here – not that I have a dearth of potential posts in my archives. But during those rare times that I get invited to review the food in a restaurant, I know I must let you guys know all about my experience.
So, last Thursday, I was invited by Abela & Co. to review the food at their latest venture, Bean There Bistro at the Millenium Airport Hotel in Garhoud, Dubai. Off I went to sample the dishes on the menu, and overall, I was pretty impressed.
Bean There Bistro is a retail venture and the bistro arm of the Bean There Cafes that dot the Abu Dhabi student and healthcare scene. This particular branch is decorated in warm colours, with ample use of white oak filled with muted greens, warm wooden tones. A gorgeous wooden bar counter takes the limelight along with the vertical garden of indoor plants that are light quite strategically for both effect and heat.
The menu at Bean There is quite concise, with a varied menu both in terms of cuisine and vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. There’s quite a lot to choose from, in fact. We sampled a few of the dishes, and most of them were quite delicious – enough for me to want to go there again!
We started off with the appetisers – a sampling plate was brought to the table. This comprised some absolutely delicious fried calamari rings – they were the right kind of crispy, with fresh calamari in the centre sprinkled with a little tangy spice powder.
This was served with the crab cakes – sweet crab flesh mixed with a little fish (my guess would be tuna – but you’d have to check with the chef) and coated with panko crumbs and fried.
We also had the Buffalo Spring Rolls – cigars of crisp pastry encasing strips of chicken and vegetables in a delicious combination. While this was quite delicious, the only issue was I couldn’t get much of the buffalo sauce tang or spice.
Finally, we sampled the signature starter at Bean There Bistro – the bacon wrapped dates. A simple but brilliant concotion of dates stuffed with an almond, coated with salted, moreish blue cheese and a smoky strip of beef bacon – simple divine!
Salads & Sandwiches
To my delight, Bean There has plenty of salad choices to choose from. We sampled the Marinated Beet and Goat’s Cheese Salad with Grapefruit, along with Quinoa and French Lentil Salad. I really liked the former and found the flavour of the sweet beetroot contrasting perfectly with the tangerine and other citrus fruits. The salty tone of the goat’s cheese hit the right notes with the rocket bringing freshness and the house vinaigrette rounding off all the flavours beautifully. And the vibrant colours simply maximised the appeal of the dish.
The Quinoa and French Lentil salad was a letdown for me, personally. While I really liked the combination of Quinoa and lentils served with dried berries and carrots, etc, the dressing just didn’t do much for me. It was too citrusy for a salad like this. Sweeter and more creamy tones in the vinaigrette would probably have brought the ingredients together better.
The sandwiches were, on the other hand quite a delight. Turns out that the bread at Bean There is made in their kitchens and form the base of all their sandwiches. We sampled the Caprese Ciabatta. Fresh, slightly chewy (which is good) ciabatta sandwiched slices of fresh vine tomatoes, slices of buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves in perfect layers. There’s something absolutely amazing about eating a dish that is made using the freshest possible ingredients.
This held true for the Bean There Sandwich as well. It was quite a pleasant surprise in fact. Brown bread was lathered with mouttabbel (a smoky Arabic eggplant dip) and topped with grilled, salty haloumi. This was garnished with fresh watercress, mint and a chilli relish. The very first bite was a burst of flavours and I would probably call this simple combination of flavours the highlight dish of the evening.
Bean There Bistro has an interesting array of main dishes. From the quintessentially European Roast Chicken, a French inspired Salmon and Beurre Blanc dish to a South American style Chilli Con Carne and an amalgamation of cuisines in the Travellers Chicken, they have it all. And it is all delicious.
The Crispy Half Chicken was moist and quite flavourful. The potato mash that complemented it was just right, as was the slightly spiced ratatouille.
The Salmon Beurre Blanc was extremely light – while the salmon could be a little less cooked, it was nevertheless a great carrier of the flavours of the sweet spring vegetable bed it sat on and the tangy beurre blanc sauce, that I ordered more off. In fact, I feel that there should have been more sauce on the plate – or else the sauce should have been served on the side.
The Lone Star Chilli Pot (no idea why it has that name) is quite delicious. The minced beef is slow cooked in a flavourful sauce of tomatoes, onion and garlic with chillies. This was served with a sweet corn bread. Now, while I do know that corn is a very Mexican ingredient and corn bread is quite common in that region, I’ve never had corn bread – so I couldn’t vouch for the authenticity of the bread. However, I can say that it was sweet, crumbly, delicious and an ideal accompaniment to the spicy, rustic chilli.
Finally, in the mains was the Traveller’s Chicken – a slightly odd combination of curried chicken served atop spiced chickpeas and topped with a light slaw and a carribean hot sauce. This was served with a flaky parotha. The odd combination of ingredients definitely added to my apprehension, but the flavours worked their magic. The chicken was moist, and went quite well with the chickpeas, and the slaw added a nice freshness to the overall dish – a one-pot comfort meal I would say.
Now when a menu says that it serves up a Chocolate Mousse Cup – the first thought that comes to my mind is ‘not another mousse’. But that is just that – never judge a book by its cover – the mousse was absolutely delicious! Hints of orange zest in a bitter and creamy dark chocolate mousse is the perfect thing for a weekend night! Such a delightful dish when its done right.
The Red Velvet Cake was too sweet for me – period. But then, most over-sweet dishes for me are perfect for others – so do make your own judgement. The cake was moist and spongy and the cream cheese frosting was perfect.
The final surprise of the evening was The Apple Delight. I love fruit desserts and this one hit the right tones. Cinnamony stewed apples with a little bite in them topped with whipped cream and salted caramel. Would more could a girl ask for? I absolutely loved it!
Overall, I would definitely want to visit Bean There Bistro again – not only to understand how consistent they are with their food but to also sample the other dishes. If you follow me on Instagram, then you have probably seen the pics I shared over the week. If not, go visit it now @riotofflavours. In the meanwhile, visit Bean There Bistro and let me know what you think!