Tresind – is it very India?

Tresind - Radisson Royal Dubai - Indian restaurants in DubaiTresind, 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?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

FooDiva Rating: Knife Rating: 2.5
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20 Responses to “Tresind – is it very India?”

  1. Ekta December 1, 2014 at 11:43 am

    How disappointing. Considering the large Indian population, I still struggle to find any high-end Indian restaurant worth my dime (especially being Indian). Better to save the cash and hit up the authentic eateries in Bur Dubai/Karama.

    • FooDiva December 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Cheap and cheerful is the way to go Ekta, but I must admit, I do rate Vineet Bhatia’s Indego at Grosvenor House highly – have you tried it?

      • Ekta December 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

        I did. Found the food amazing at Taste of Dubai but when I took the family for Friday brunch, was sorely disappointed. Some great appetizers but mediocre mains and desserts. The quest for gourmet Indian continues. I think Mint Leaf is next on my list.

  2. Zubika Mehndiratta December 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I had gone to Tresind with my father and I must say the time spent there has been etched on my mind. Everything you get there is incomparable.. From food to service to ambience to décor.. The list can go on endlessly!
    They have taken fusion to a whole new level. We had deconstructed paani poori, daulat ki chaat, chaat tray prepaped live by Chef Himanshu and a lot of other things on their menu.. my mouth is watering while I am writing all this. It wasn’t just a visit to a restaurant as the amazing and loving staff there give you an experience which is inexplicable.
    All in all a worthwhile experience!

    • FooDiva December 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

      I am so glad you had a much better experience than I did Zubika. But the very formal, sterile decor is really not reflective of Indian design and I would love to know the inspiration and rationale behind it.

  3. The Man in the White Hat December 1, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Drat.

    High-end Indian is always tricky, and I had real hopes here. I had this one down on my list of places potentially worth trying – I have an inexplicable weakness for liquid nitrogen (which apparently features in at least one dish) – but this is …. not encouraging.

    Looks like it’s back to Karama….

    • FooDiva December 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Well if liquid nitrogen is a feature Mr White Hat, it’s certainly not highlighted on the menu and was not brought to our attention – a real shame as I would have tried it. A missed opportunity on the restaurant’s part. Have you tried Pierre Gagnaire’s Reflets? He loves his liquid nitrogen, and is in town this week starting tomorrow 🙂

  4. Kelly December 2, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Personally I find it unaccepable that waiters do not have a knowledge of the menu and that they start removing plates before all finish at the table. This is of course part of staff training before opening a restaurant.

    • FooDiva December 3, 2014 at 10:30 am

      Couldn’t agree more Kelly. Service is my biggest bug bearer in Dubai. A restaurant should not accept paying guests until they have finished training.

  5. IshitaUnblogged December 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I had gone to interview Himanshu Saini as he’s a very dynamic chef. He took us through some of his creations – needless to say I am absolutely excited – the Chaat Trolley is more like a performance – simply outstanding – I was hoping that this would strike a chord with the diners. And also surprised that you feel that ‘Tresind is only looking to target the Indian community’. I felt that it was the other way round. Think staff training is paramount to this kind of a menu where you are trying to approach traditional Indian menu in a contemporary way. Sad:(

    • FooDiva December 3, 2014 at 10:37 am

      I can’t comment on the chaat trolley as we did not try that Ishita. If it was a signature, the waiter missed the opportunity to sell it to us. The reason I raise the question of targeting the Indian community is because the menu offers no explanation for diners not familiar with Indian cuisine, and the waiter did not volunteer to explain the menu and its dishes. How are non-Indians meant to know that ‘gucchi’ are dried morels?! No one is sadder than me Ishita. I had high expectations for this restaurant, but unfortunately they have been shattered. Let’s see how Junoon fares 😉

      On a separate note, I dined at Rasoi at the Coral Deira on Sunday evening – what a fabulous North Indian meal. Have you been?

  6. JayEim December 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

    And another one bite the dust….

    Staff training ranges from poor to non existent and the old Maitre D’ sadly is no more……anywhere.

    A famous restaurant/eatery had recently the Operation Director loose the litle hair he had left as his staff was planned to have a 21 days training and instead because of whatever reason, the staff flew in arriving Dubai in the middle of the night and serving at the restaurant the next day with a half hour prep talk in lieue of training!

    Mediocrity rules a OK!

    I guess as MWH said, it is back to Karama or wait to go back to the best Indian in Dubai which is at the India Club……with the Brit accent, Hockey gloves and colored Bentley’s……got to love it 😉

    • FooDiva December 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      Gosh I do look forward to your comments Jay. They always make me smile 🙂 Don’t get me started on the whole service issue here in Dubai. Interesting that we now use the designation ‘restaurant manager’ as opposed to good old-fashioned maitre d’. Well neither were present at Tresind which is unacceptable for a new restaurant on a Friday night. Ooh can anyone go to the India Club or do you have to be with a member? See my comment further above regarding Rasoi at the Coral Deira hotel – have you tried it?

  7. JayEim December 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Same here.

    Dunno if you have to be a member at the India Club as apparently you have to pass a Cricket knowledge test for men and the ladies have to show grace and poise at Badminton…..it’s all those feathers you know…. 😉
    I am usually on the invitees clapdish list.

    Maybe we can gate crash the place….

  8. Manish December 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I fail to agree in general with this review. I have had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times. A few of us friends were at Tresind earlier last week. We always prefer to allow the server to advice us their recommendations when we visit a restaurant for the first time. The gentleman was happy to take our request and we were treated to their choice of delicacies for the evening. Not only was I given an introduction to the respective dishes by the staff, but also greeted graciously by the manager and the Head Chef.

    Our meal began with their complimentary bread along with the 2 dips, which set the trend for the rest of the meal. I was so impressed, I took the liberty to request for 2 extra portions to which they happily served me. Soon after came the Head Chef with a trolley (or whatever its called) and said he would prepare a chaat for us. Little did I know about its preparation and the Chef was quick to explain the use of Liquid Nitrogen. Needless to say, it was a treat.

    Thereafter was the Bhaji Soup which was mindblowing to say the least. Never had I enjoyed a soup more. The taste was distinctive. We had a couple of more starters. right after, we were sent complimentary khandvi sorbets which set the tone for the main course.

    We had the Aloo, Kaddi, Sarson ke Saag, Dal Makhani and Rice (Yes all Veg!). We were all thrilled and knew instantly that we had to come back soon (which we did towards the end of last week). Each dish had its own unique taste and I was personally in awe of their preparation. To round off the evening, they sent us Cotton Candy (Cappuccino flavor) which reminded us of our younger days!

    The ambiance needs to be enhanced to make it a more memorable experience overall, and I did point this out to their manager. On the contrary, which “True” Indian Restaurant needs ambiance as a reason to check it out?

    To me this was Very India!

    Its a favorite in Dubai!

    • FooDiva December 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I am so glad you had a much better experience than me Manish. I wish I had experienced the service that you did. Sadly one of Dubai’s weakest links is the lack of consistency at restaurants, even to the extent of different tables having completely different experiences on the same night. All I can do is share my dining experiences constructively in the hope that the feedback will be used to enhance the operation. Thanks for dropping in with a comment.

  9. Natasha December 18, 2014 at 12:27 am

    We enjoy our Indian food and have yet to be disappointed at Atul Kochars restaurants Rang Mahal
    or Benares.

  10. Tasha October 8, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I went to Tresind recently and think they must have really upped their game since you visited. I found the food surprising in presentation (but spot on in flavour), theatrical and, in a nutshell, a lot of fun. I think they’ve managed to preserve the taste of traditional Indian cuisine yet plate and present it in a very ambitious, quirky manner and I would definitely recommend this spot to others. On a mid-week night, the space (which I agree is quite austere) was full, creating quite an atmosphere, with people rubber-necking each others’ tables to see what creations had been ordered nearby. Everything from the chaat trolley to the Indian take on duck pancakes, sticky lamb chops, peanut scallops and post-dinner candy floss delighted!

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.