Put a little ooh la la at lunchtime…
Business lunches at great restaurants often look like a hack. You’re a “backwards” computer prodigy from a 90s movie, frantically tapping in front of a green and black screen, then… “BINGO!”, you’ve found a “backdoor in the system.”
These morning specials give you a whirlwind, behind-the-firewall tasting tour of the cuisine of a particular venue with, most often, a considerable concession on price.
And while Mamsha Al Saadiyat’s Brasserie and Café Raclette Menu Du Jour isn’t technically a business lunch (at least in name), it shares many of the same defining qualities. We therefore claim it under the BL banner. It is a three-course menu, available between 11am and 5pm Monday to Friday, and there is a fixed price of 109 Dhs which includes a house drink. Or you can upgrade to a package that includes two hours of free movement for a total cost of 139 Dhs (this includes prosecco). But we don’t know how much business is actually done if you’re out of the office for two hours.
They change the menu throughout the week and each day there are a number of choices for starters, main courses and desserts. We called in on a Thursday lunchtime, took a wicker colonial-style seat by the bar, and made no effort to calm our obvious swoon over the interior design. It’s an art deco safari, with looping swirls of verdant canopy hanging from the ceiling, there are statuettes of cherry-red and lime-green macaws, playful monkey chandeliers and crockery sets that look like a dream. a Bourdeaux bistro.
Our first course is a French onion soup, with large dollops of hazelnut Gruyere cheese. It’s a fairly authentic execution, there’s a faint buzz of caramel, a meaty foreground found in the salty broth and cheese, with a tangy flute solo of vinegar and playful floating onion on top.
The main course is a set of mussels in cream, served with a crispy French baguette. The basics are there – the mussels are a ripe tangerine hue and full of that fresh bivalvic sea sweetness, it’s an enjoyable dish. But there is room for improvement. The cream was a little under seasoned for our taste and inconsistent in places. Perhaps we are simply mourning the absence of a Daily Menu from our molds prep preference…it’s always sailor.
Tarte tatin is a great way to lift the curtain on a show, and there’s no business, like a good business lunch. It’s a big Provençal butter kisses on the cheek, guided by flaky pastry, puffs of spice, baked ripe fruit and effortless consistency.
Verdict: The overall quality of the various plates on the Menu Du Jour is probably slightly lower than what you’d expect from an average item on the a la carte offering (in all honesty, the bar is set high). But in terms of value for money, it really is the business. Rating: B+ for food and a solid A for value.
Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Tel: (02) 546 2277, @racletteuae
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