The Ultimate Experience in Contemporary Middle Eastern Cuisine
Dubai has a new restaurant Cle’ (pronounced Kle) in DIFC, which is now home to some of the top names in the food business. Cle’ boasts the skills and talents of celebrity Michelin star chef Greg Malouf, who specializes in contemporary Middle Eastern food, with an emphasis on contemporary.
My colleague and I were invited to lunch and our first impression was that we had walked into a lounge/night-club at the wrong time. The restaurant is huge, with a lounge, a VIP room, a party area, the regular restaurant and a terrace. The interiors are done up in black and silver, which work for a night out in town but took us a little aback for lunch time. If you are looking for an avant-garde ambience, then Cle’ is the place for you.
But now we come to the better part. Chef Greg Malouf joined us and we were impressed with his honesty and passion for his craft. He told us how he is a hands on chef, totally involved in the preparation and serving of the dishes for both lunch and dinner service seven days a week.
Now for the litmus test- we were served a sample tasting menu with a large vegetarian choice since one of us s vegetarian. We had hazelnut falafel (a twist on the classic) and a Persian herb salad with figs and crunchy halloumi, which was absolutely divine. The herbs were fresh, the figs were ripe and sweet, and the salad was served with pomegranate vinaigrette with a hint of chilli. Then we had some silky hummus, mamaghanoush (which was Greg’s take on tzatziki) and a Persian spinach and yoghurt salad which was outstanding. We also had lamb and rice in vine leaves, which we were told was Greg’s favorite dish.
For the main course, we were served courgettes stuffed with chickpea and a chicken with lemon sumac baked in saaj bread. The chicken was moist, tasteful and cooked to perfection. The presentation of all the food was impeccable and small touches like heirloom tomatoes in the tomato and mozzarella salad and the edible flowers in the herb salad. It elevated the whole dining experience to another level.
Will I go back to Cle’? A meal for two could cost up to $300 without alcohol, so it’s definitely expensive. I would go for a repeat of the culinary experience, next time I will sit outside to enjoy the view.