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dine out

staff and patrons alike, and what was once a barren restaurant is has now reached its busiest best. The new spruced up place features an ‘outdoor’ seating area, ala Paris style, perfect for diners to people-watch. Inside, the restaurant has opted for a more contemporary approach, with clean, fresh colours. Gone are the dark woods of the previous franchise, replaced by bright orange cushy seats coupled with minimalist chairs that seat you comfortably. Fancy light fixtures, a proper bricked wall and artsy photographs complete the new look. What they have retained however is the popular pastry section on the outside of the main dining area, where sinful cakes and pastries can be marvelled at by passers-by and ultimately, enticing them in. Only the freshest ingredients are used, whereby even the flour is imported from France to make their breads. The menu suggests that Eric Kayser is more of a diner than a full-blown restaurant; standard breakfast fare, lots of sandwiches and salads, as well as pizza thrown in for good measure. We started our dinner with the classic French onion soup and Steak Parisien, which is grilled slice tenderloin mixed in with mustard, onions, cheese and tomatoes. We’ve been bowled over by the simple French onion soup before and this time is no different. The soup is sweet and silky in texture, served in a pot of hard bread. That combination, added with the melted cheese, just puts you in the right mood for a flavoursome dining experience. The Steak Parisien meanwhile is cooked slightly medium well and individually, the flavours are quite sublime but when you eat it as one whole dish, some flavours are lost while others are put to the fore. For instance, while the mustard is just a thin spread, the distinct zing from it hides the taste of the melted emmental cheese, and dare I say, also overpowering the beef itself, which is a pity. Perhaps it would have tasted like

a more coherent dish if the mustard was lessened, or removed altogether, in which case there would be less of a kick, but other flavours would have their chance to shine as well. For mains, we were recommended the house’s signature, and most popular, dish: Poulet Au Pistache. This is basically grilled chicken breast topped with pistachio cream sauce and served together with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. You would not immediately connect French cuisine with pistachios and this is sort of a wild card and it’s a bit of a hit and miss to be honest. The chicken was expertly cooked as it was juicy and tender. The sauce has a surprisingly subtle flavour and the flavour of the pistachios was not as strong as we had expected it to be, which is not necessarily a bad thing given that some flavours are better left suppressed and left to linger. This dish is the exact opposite of the Steak Parisien; each element when fused with the rest created a harmony that is delicious, with the chicken soaking up all the cream sauce, leaving your taste buds in delight. Next we had the Alfredo Au Poulet Et Champignon, spaghetti in cream sauce with grilled chicken, fresh mushrooms and basil. Yes, we ordered another cream sauce dish but there are certain dishes that can give you an indication of the type of kitchen that is operating behind, and whether the chefs can execute a simple traditional dish well. So we chose this as the benchmark. Our pasta was cooked well, and the mushrooms actually tasted like they were sautéed first and not just dumped in. Overall, the dish was lovely, though a little more salt would probably be more towards most people’s liking. The star of the night, not surprisingly, was a dessert, particularly the Pain Perdu, a vanilla and brown sugar pan-seared brioche topped with vanilla ice-cream and caramel. Just the sound of that is pleasing and once you put that soft bread into your mouth,

all the world’s problems seem to just melt away. The brioche lends a sophistication to the dish while the caramel and the vanilla brings you back to your childhood, to a time when everything sweet was heavenly. This all results in a dish that is truly divine. And the portion size was good too, enough to really savour every little morsel that you scoop. The other dessert we tried was Berry Berry Crepe, crepe filled with cream cheese, and served with mixed berries and creme anglaise. This is a combination of sweet and salty, though more sweet than salty as there was nowhere near enough cream cheese to balance all that sweetness. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is your dish right here. And if you’re still in the mood for more desserts, just walk over to the pasty section and indulge, indulge, indulge! After a tumultuous time, Eric Kayser has been given a new lease of life. The second wind looks promising as loyal customers to the brand have embraced this new offering, along with new patrons that are attracted to the brand name and surely after their dining experience, the food. Diners kept streaming into the outlet while we were there and considering that it was a weekday yet almost completely full, it bodes well for the future of Eric Kayser in Dubai.

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