Lunch with a view.
Last week I was invited to Le Classique to experience a modern french gastronomical affair with their newly launched contemporary menu. Tucked away in the heart of the Emirates Golf Club, Le Classique is one of those Dubai restaurants that have truly stood the test of time with its 25 year history - which, for Dubai, is truly a testimony! The last time I went to this gem of a restaurant was in highschool on a class trip, it's safe to say I don't remember much - and no I'm not getting into how many years its been since then - lets keep that little detail a mystery for now! I was quite excited to return and what made me even more delighted was when I found out we'd be experiencing a masterclass lead by Chef Remi Verrier (who was trained under the best of the best with the likes of michelin star Master Chef Alain Ducasse).
When I arrived I was so happy to see that it was such a small group of bloggers attending. Don't get me wrong, I love the larger blogger events as well where I get to catch up with everyone and we all get to be our boisterous foodie selves, take over the whole restaurant, climbing on chairs trying to get the best "flatlay - topshot" we can! But there's something special about the smaller, more intimate invites, where you truly get to have a conversation with the chef and understand more about the food and where it's coming from. Let me first just say, that I can't believe this restaurant hasn't been on my radar for the longest time, it seems to be one of those restaurants that people tend to forget about, however, it will always have those regular customers who keep returning because of the amazing service, stellar views, peaceful atmosphere and absolutely exquisite food. The interiors are truly classic - white linen on the tables, posh decor, large armchairs, perfect table settings, something right out a french fine dining restaurant - but the new menu impresses. Taking all those delicious french classics, flavors and techniques, and putting a modern spin on them.
Now, I know what you're thinking... Let's start talking about the FOOD! Chef Remi kindly took the time out to give us a masterclass on some of the dishes off the new menu that was launched on October 1st. His favorite starter, main and dessert - Here goes! The starter he chose to teach us was a Tuna sashimi, beetroot purée and watermelon cube dish. A beautiful play on 3 different shades of a similar color.
Very simple dish to create actually! Roast the beetroot in the oven (covered in foil to keep it moist) until it's soft, purée it using a blender, add a touch of water if needed, pass it through a sieve (or my favorite, a chinoise - this bad boy won't miss a single granule) and season it. Next, chop the watermelon into cubes and remove those seeds (don't miss that part - my absolute greatest pet peeve - makes my blood boil when I have to remove those seeds myself at a restaurant!). Lastly slice the tuna into cubes the same size as the watermelons (make sure it's sushi-quality, grade A tuna because there's no cooking involved in this) and marinate in a mixture of soy and ponzu sauce for just a few mins, season it and plate up - you're done cheffy!
Next was my favorite dish of the day! Caramelised lamb sweetbread, pea purée and sautéed seasonal vegetables.
This was an absolute stunner! For those of you who don't know - Sweetbreads, or offals, are the internal organs of animals (usually from the thymus gland and/or pancreas). In advance, before being portioned and trimmed, they need to be soaked in cold water for several hours and then blanched in hot water, removing any impurities. To me, sweetbreads don't have the musty flavors that other types of offal often have. The texture is extremely smooth, tender and moist, and the flavor is quite mild and creamy. The outside crisps up and caramelizes easily, and they play nicely with both rich and more acidic sauces. Chef Remi used a beef jus in this dish. Another item that needs to be prepared before hand is the tomato confit (one of my favorite cooking techniques, it always results in melt in your mouth, incredibly flavourful food). Blanch and remove the skin and pulp of a few tomatoes, put the tomato petals on a baking tray, season, add a bit of garlic and olive oil and forget about it in an oven set at 90 degrees C for several hours - De-licious, trust me! So, firstly, make the pea purée, sweat a few tablespoons of finely diced onion in olive oil, add a bit of minced garlic, the peas and milk to cover. Boil the peas for about 10 minutes until they're soft, blitz the mixture in a food processor and strain it, season and add a knob of butter to melt through it, this gives it a nice velvety consistency. Next have your pot of water boiling and one by one, blanch the vegetables until they are soft (but not mushy, don't over do it or it'll become baby food - the trick is that a knife should pierce it without too much resistance), and then dump them straight into ice cold water to stop the cooking. Now - start searing those sweetbreads in a frying pan with hot olive oil. Once you're happy with the color, change your frying pan, this time, cook with butter! Continuously basting the sweetbread to stop it from going dry, Sweetbreads are quite forgiving in the sense that they're difficult to overcook, keeping the size of the sweetbread pieces in mind (smaller ones will cook faster), keep basting until they're firm to the touch with quite a bit of resistance. In the mean time, sauté your veg in some butter. Time to plate up!
The final dish of the day was a decadent chocolate fondant with fresh berries and a pumpkin créme anglaise, and here's the recipe!
Extremely easy to make, you literally just need to whisk all the ingredients together in a batter and bake it! The trick is to not over bake it, otherwise it's just cake and there's nothing more disappointing than cutting into what's supposed to be a molten cake and not get that chocolate oozing out. Another important factor to consider is to use good quality chocolate, Hershey's won't cut it this time guys! The most interesting part of this dish was the pumkin créme anglaise, it complimented all the flavors on the plate really well - Who would have thought? It wouldn't have even crossed my mind to add pumpkin puree to a vanilla créme anglaise!
Now if that wasn't an exciting enough day, we were then seated for lunch, and oh my, was it delicious. Le Classique has introduced an extremely reasonably priced business lunch, 105dhs for a 3 course meal (which is veggie friendly) with unlimited soft drinks, water and juice. Definitely worth the drive over foodies, during the day the restaurant is absolutely flooded with sunlight and there's greenery as far as the eye can see because of the stellar views of the golf club.
I had the Beef Tartare to start with, followed by the Roasted Chicken with Sautéed Potatoes and an extremely refreshing Pavlova with fresh berries for dessert.
It's safe to say I will be returning to Le Classique very soon. And I would like to thank Sept PR for organizing such a lovely morning and afternoon.