Tresind – is it very India?
Tresind, a compound word for ‘tres’ and ‘ind’ denoting ‘very India’ is a new Dubai restaurant open at the Radisson Royal Hotel on the Sheikh Zayed. On the contrary though, the restaurant’s marketing promotes the use of molecular gastronomy marrying a ‘‘progressive fine dining approach with traditional Indian cuisine.” Conflicting messages aside, what’s the menu like? Confusing.
When a menu in Dubai simply lists ingredients and its inspiration with Indian terminology, you would expect an explanation either in print or from the waiter. Neither is offered. And even when I prompt our waiter, he struggles to articulate dishes and make recommendations. So with a little knowledge of Indian cuisine (thanks to frequent holidays visiting my parents when they lived in Chennai) and some guesswork we figure it for ourselves. Perhaps Tresind is only looking to target the Indian community?
Like with many traditional Indian restaurants, the menu divides starters and main courses into veggie and meat/ seafood. We place our order for our trio and are asked if we would like to share, which we do. First up though as an amuse bouche, is a spin on the Western Indian street food snack, pani puri – deconstructed as a molecular sphere, which upon biting, bursts into a medley of intense fragrant flavours – delightful.
Our three starters arrive and here’s what I mean by confusing menu descriptions. Tandoori tiger prawns, Amritsari soft shell crab, Desi ghee achari hollandaise; Malai tikka, white wine cheese fondue, herbs de provence; Peanut butter paneer tikka, San Marzano tomatoes, basil oil. The tandoori tiger prawn dish marries succulence, crunch and a drizzle of tangy pickled sauce very well, whilst the paneer tikka’s infusion of European ingredients also succeeds. But the chicken malai tikka is drenched in a coagulated cheese sauce – sticky and unappetising. Apart from the odd spherification, there is no other indication of molecular technique in any of these appetisers. Perhaps it’s hiding underneath the sauce.
A palate cleanser rocks up which is a spin on the khandvi snack – served here as a yoghurt delicately flavoured with mustard and curry leaves – beautifully presented in an olive wood bowl. Delicious. Onto our three main courses: Achari monk fish, corn and popcorn khichdi, feuilles de brick crisp; Pulled butter chicken, kasuri methi butter crumbs; Gucchi fried rice, tandoori foie gras, toasted pine nuts. The pickled monkfish is overcooked, but the khichdi, a lentil and rice mix that inspired kedgeree, dotted with popcorn and slivers of filo pastry crisps, makes for a comforting, nourishing base. The pulled butter chicken veers towards tradition, but sadly is tough and stringy. The fried rice has plenty of dried morels, but the foie gras (and the reason we order this dish) is as hard to find as a peppercorn in a salad. So with the mains, there’s a mix of traditional and modern dishes, but again the molecular infusion does not shine through.
We order a side dish of kulcha – the boiled anda bhurjee – but the mushroom version arrives by mistake. They do correct this though rather promptly. If I have to pick one dish that leaves a lasting, smiley impression it’s this one. Mini parcels of kulcha bread stuffed to the brim with spiced, diced boiled eggs – simple, sublime, soul food. A must-order. A slight creative execution of a traditional North Indian dish.
I am not sure if I am recognised or it’s simply a courtesy gesture, but a couple of dishes arrive on the house – a black dal along with a bowl of naan and roti. The chef does rock up and ask for feedback, so perhaps it’s the former. Top marks also for offering to pour a coupe of Taittinger champagne, given my order of Prosecco is not available.
We share a dessert – Balushahi doughnut, compressed apple, caramel cream. We all agree that the slight variation of this traditional North Indian stiff dough pastry is too sickly sweet. The molecular technique seems amiss here too. It’s sad to see so many dishes poorly executed, given only three out of eight succeed. But that aside, Tresind’s cuisine veers towards the traditional, with only hints of creativity and a passing nod to molecular gastronomy.
Apart from the two excellent service recovery gestures, the team lacks menu knowledge (with one waiter more versed than the other), but both literally standing to attention ready to pounce throughout our whole meal. They also manage to confirm my pet peeve with Dubai’s service, where plates are whipped up before the whole table has finished.
As for the interior, the design is austere and monochrome with rather intense bright lighting – hardly ‘very India’. Coupled with a quiet restaurant which is unusual for a Friday night, Tresind has zero ambiance. On the contrary, the bar with a vibrant colour scheme is buzzing both with people and eclectic sound tracks.
A price point of AED250-300 per person without alcohol is what you would expect to pay for a top-end licensed dining experience in Dubai. But would I return? No. For two reasons. Competition is high in Dubai with an overflow of much better high-end (and cheap and cheerful) Indian restaurants. And sadly most of the dishes, together with a lack of good service fundamentals and atmosphere leave me uninspired. Tresind is anything but a ‘very Indian’ dining experience. Here’s to a 2.5 out of 5 FooDiva knife rating.
Have you tried and tasted Tresind? Where’s your favourite top-end Indian restaurant?