The Farm…in Dubai

The Farm interiorDubai; When these photos landed in FooDiva’s inbox, my heart started racing. The saying a picture tells a 1000 words is so true, and I couldn’t get there quick enough. I’m waffling about The Farm, a new eatery in Dubailand’s Al Barari ‘wilderness’ residential compound owned by the local Zaal family – just off Emirates Road. The Farm - exterior

As you drive down the slip road, we could only but marvel at the lush greenery, gardens and nurseries enveloping us. Where had this gem of an oasis been hiding? The Farm’s main building reminded FooDiva a little of Le Corbusier’s architecture and the hotel The Commune by the Great Wall of China. But once inside its style is more Balinese – designed by Lesley Zaal of Etcetera Living.

The Farm - lakeThe Farm - exterior seating

The Farm exteriorWith the weather so beautiful on Friday lunchtime, we picked a spot outside on the wooden deck suspended over a landscaped lake with freshwater streams, and surrounded by botanical gardens. Having oohed and aghed at the beauty and tranquility, first up are the i-pad menus. As FooDiva has just succumbed to the glorious i-pad trend, I quite like the novelty of flicking through the images of the dishes, but if you’re not au fait with i-technology it can take a while to select as it did for my friend.

The international menu prides itself on sourcing local and organic produce where possible (Abu Dhabi’s Mazaraa farm is one supplier), with lunch dishes divided into starters, soups and salads right through to bruschetta, pasta, curry, mains and of course desserts.

Rather disapppointingly, FooDiva’s carrot and beetroot juice had been squeezed early that morning so really losing its essential vitamin content. Whilst I accept the waitress’ explanation that the pulp needs removing after each juicing to stop clogging, making it quite a challenge for a la minute juices, The Farm only had a handful of occupied tables, so they should make an exception, or else buy a number of juicers.

A bread basket from the on-site bakery included some lovely buttery brioche. We made our own bruschetta selecting toasted sour dough bread, pesto, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds from a long menu of ingredients. Fresh, crunchy and beautifully more-ish. FooDiva’s tomato tatin starter was skinned, stuffed with olive tapenade and goat cheese on a slither thin bed of filo pastry  – heaps of flavour, creative and really well executed. My friend’s chicken breast skewers were lightly grilled and very tender to the point of falling off the bamboo stick – a slightly piquant satay sauce served on the side.

BruschettaTomato tatinChicken satayMarinated prawn saladCouscous and grilled halloumi saladIce cream and sorbets

We’d not yet finished our starters when our mains arrived – far too quick – luckily they were salads. FooDiva’s marinated shrimp salad – juicy, succulent prawns doused in strong, refreshing lemongrass and julienne strips of papaya and cucumber – I must admit I was unsure about ordering this dish but the marriage of ingredients worked perfectly, really bursting with flavour and texture. Good portion size too. Meanwhile, a couscous and rocca salad with shreds of grilled halloumi disappointed with the rubbery halloumi. Now as soon as this originally Cypriot sheep and goat’s milk cheese is grilled (or fried) it should be served immediately whilst hot, otherwise you’ll be chewing until there’s no tomorrow.

For dessert, despite an enticing selection of baked delicacies and pastries, we settled for hugely generous scoops of mixed wild berry and lemon sorbet, and a coffee ice cream, whilst reclining on chaise longues. FooDiva’s only quibble was the lemon – too tart and watery, I could have sworn it was lime. The juicy taste of the raspberries and blackberries is still lingering though.

The Farm - exterior detailThe staff were very welcoming and knew their menu – so apart from my odd quibble above which with time and practice will iron itself out, well done on service. At AED 125 per head, good price point too. A booze license is underway but am not convinced it’s really essential – it may just spoil the tranquility of this heavenly haven. The Farm is so incredibly chilled and relaxing, you really feel you have escaped the hustle and bustle of Dubai. I could have stayed all day…and night if one of the multi-million five-bedroom plus villas would have accommodated me :). I hear a boutique hotel may be in the offing – a similar feel to Desert Palm perhaps?

FooDiva’s so glad Dubai’s investing in novel, home-grown F&B concepts that really draw in the natural surroundings. I do urge you to visit. I certainly can’t wait to return.

The Farm is located in the Al Barari residential development off Emirates Road in the royal enclave of Nad Al Sheba. Click here for directions. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am to 11pm. Awaiting booze license. No need for advance reservations. T: +971 4 392 5660. AED 250 for two. A small range of organic products is available for sale.

Have you been? Any other gems hidden away in the UAE desert?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

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29 Responses to “The Farm…in Dubai”

  1. Punit Bhatia April 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I had been there myself during the soft opening and it is wonderful. I really love your review and would like to try out the dishes you sampled.

    You were spot on the rubbery halloumi. It was a complete turn off because everything else was perfect.

    Looking forward to return there again.

    Excellent review!

    • FooDiva April 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks Punit. Out of interest what did you order, or were you there for the opening event?

  2. kelly April 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    The place looks like a paradise, very relaxing….I would go there just for the surroundings!!!!!!

    • FooDiva April 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Most definitely one for your next visit 🙂

  3. Marta´s Kitchen April 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    wow! i have to go! love those pictures! it doesn´t feel like dubai!

    • FooDiva April 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      It’s such a haven of respite Marta and this is exactly why I love Dubai as the city constantly surprises me :). Let me know what you think!

  4. I Live in a Frying Pan April 10, 2012 at 5:39 am

    FINALLY. More homegrown concepts. I’ll make sure I take my folks to this one, thanks for sharing the reco! sucks to hear about the halloumi though…it is one of my all time fav cheeses.

    • FooDiva April 10, 2012 at 8:58 am

      It’s worthy of a Frying Pan review 🙂 I’ll bring you back some halloumi from Cyprus next time – the stuff you get here is not quite the same.

  5. Irini Savva April 10, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Looks like a lovely place to try! Did you by any chance check if sustainable fish and organic/free-range/grass fed meat was on the menu? I checked their website but there’s not much on there.

    • FooDiva April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

      Hi Irini. The beef is grass-fed NZ rib eye. The chicken is free-range and corn-fed from France, and the salmon is organic Scottish. And thankfully there’s no local hammour on the menu.

  6. Smaranda April 10, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Lovely, indeed!

  7. Tala April 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I like! Seems quite unique.

    I’m thinking of experiencing it during the evening!

    • FooDiva April 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Ooh yes should be beautiful with the lights and hopefully candles twinkling away Tala 🙂 Let me know what you think!

  8. Helen April 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    The worst service ever, we waited an hour to get a bottle of water!!! When the food did arrive, eventually, the orders were wrong,just the worst experience ever in Dubai, such a lovely place spoilt by extremely bad service.

  9. Amy from Appetite for Discovery May 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Looks beautiful! Is it all outdoors or do they have an air conditioned section for summer too?

    • FooDiva May 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      There’s an indoor space too, shown in one of the photos. Just as beautiful! But make sure to book in advance as I hear it gets very busy.

  10. Jp May 26, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Dear Foodiva,
    You are right, this place really is a gem, but I fear it has succumbed to the Dubai pretentiousness and clearly not for the likes of yours truly.

    I’ve always felt that a good F&B experience hinges on three legs – Ambiance, Food quality and service. The Farm, for me at any rate, ticks the first and second in abundance, but service is really an issue. The forst time we visited (sans reservation as the lady on the phone told me they don’t take reservations) was back in April and the service was so bad, they were offering the food for free.

    The second time (a couple of weeks ago) we turned up again without reservation only to be told that we needed one – fair enough as the place was packed; a tribute to their food and ambiance I feel. Service was a vast improvement on the previous time, adn the food was again superb. Sadly it wasn’t possible to enjoy the idyllic atmosphere outside (there are limits) but a great experience nonethelss.

    Today I thought I call up and reserve a table – email reservations only. Look at their website, nothing but a phone number, email address and a bunch of pretty pictures.

    Sorry but I am not about to drive half an hour out of Dubai for this.

    • FooDiva May 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      You’re not the first to complain about the service. I’ve heard it’s gone downhill. Clearly they’ve been so overwhelmed and can’t cope. So are you saying they are now only accepting reservations by email?

      • Jp May 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

        Actually I thought their service was improving but there again this is based only on two visits. Indeed, reservations by email only, unless it was only during busy times. However it isn’t exactly welcoming is it?

        • FooDiva May 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

          That’s quite unbelievable. It may be a beauty but it’s not exactly Noma is it or El Bulli when it was open? If they’re not careful they will end up alienating the local community like Atlantis did with its F&B when it first opened (on that note they are now having to repair that damage with extensive PR/ social media campaigns). Am gonna try and make a booking…

  11. Amy | Appetite for Discovery June 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Just back from a fabulous lunch. I was a little apprehensive about what to expect after reading the comments above but we couldn’t fault the service or the food and my Dubai based friend who came with me can’t wait to return. We were even asked if we were ready to be served our mains which was a nice touch. Perhaps they are making an extra effort after receiving negative feedback? I made my booking by email and called to change the day with no problems at all. I also confirmed with them today that they take phone bookings too and they do. I think when you call them the answer phone says you can make bookings online but if you keep listening you can press a number to be connected to the restaurant. Overall an excellent experience (we thought it was great value too) and we’ll definitely be back.

    • FooDiva June 2, 2012 at 7:56 am

      Great to hear Amy especially as you’ve travelled all the way from Bahrain 🙂 Appreciate your comment so others dropping by here can see it too. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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