Like all seasonal meals, a Christmas feast should be robust. But what happens when the line between hearty and binge eating is blurred? This Christmas set menu is what – a tremendous exercise in gluttony. You can probably skip breakfast and potentially even lunch the day after this Fumé feast to be shared with one is done. The menu is available from Friday, December 23 to Sunday, December 25 and is priced at Dh195 per person.
It starts with four appetisers. Thin wisps of smoked salmon terrine buried under a few inches of cream cheese in a jar. Dip the accompanying sourdough into the cheese, which is thick in consistency, and ponder the restaurant’s juxtaposition of industrial, faux-rusted overhead lighting fixtures with wooden kitchen-style tables and chairs.
Next up: brine-marinated beef slices served with fried bread. The meat is chewy, well-peppered and tastes better than it looks. Wrap each strip around a pieces of bread to enjoy the sensation of biting into a chewy surface with a crunchy centre.
The wild mushroom and mascarpone voul au vent is a stew of fresh fungi topped with cream cheese in a puff pastry bowl garnished with rocket leaves. The mascarpone’s acidity matches up well against the smooth flavours of the mushroom, which was well-balanced enough that we almost wished the chef had sent a soup of this instead.
The final starter – if it can still be called that when preceded by three other dishes – was crab cakes over sweet peas. Don’t be fooled by the image; the breaded crab cakes are deceptively soft to bite into and the meat has a rightly stringy texture. Interestingly, the peas are in two forms, untouched and mushed. Oh, and there’s beef bacon in here too. Because, why not? It’s greasy but in a loving way. I want this in my stomach for breakfast after an active day (and night).
The striploin we dove into had its meat roasted to a refreshingly pink level on the inside. It dovetails nicely with the Yorkshire pudding, which is an inclusion that just makes sense – if it works with a Sunday roast, why wouldn’t it work here? The horseradish sauce, on the other hand, feels unnecessary. Its bitter tones threaten to overpower the striploin’s flavour. After a cursory couple of bites, GN Focus sets it aside the bowl to, well, focus on the meat.
When the menu says jumbo prawns, it’s not exaggerating. These are the largest we’ve seen on a plate. Flown in from Thailand, the pair of crustaceans have been stuffed with mushrooms and spinach. The ingredients are sandwiched between a layer of meat and dill hollandaise sauce. We’re more used to this heavy-duty condiment atop eggs benedict, but it’s something that complements rather than competes with the prawn, mushroom and spinach flavours in your mouth, due to their neutral nature.
The potato dumplings served in a tomato-based soup with seafood, fava beans and lemons was probably the let-down. Cherry and sundried tomatoes pushed the tomato flavour over the top. The mussels were nice though – I’m not the biggest fan of munching molluscs, but this did well in the soup. The fava beans, however, did not. They should have worked well here but the lemony flavour didn’t chime too well with the other ingredients and the beans were far too mushy. Only a few bites in, we moved on.
The charred brussels sprouts, on the other hand, provide a welcome crunch to contrast with the overly soft fava beans in the preceding dish. Stick one of these sprouts with a fork then proceed to roll it around the cheese fondue mix it is served atop. This helped GN Focus see the good side of a decidedly unglamorous vegetable.
Finally, we arrive at the most Christmassy item on the menu: turkey roulade served with all the trimmings and a cranberry compote. The latter component, we’re pleased to report, had actual cranberries floating in it. That’s not something you see every day. The roll part of the roulade is the only actual turkey in the dish; its filling comprises a mix of chicken sausages, onion, apricots, sage, bread and Parmesan. Trimmings include parsnips, which are tough to chew, and sweet potato, which isn’t.
We start things off by tucking into panettone with cinnamon and marscapone. The cream is sweeter here than the one served on the mushroom voul au vent, while the sweetbread is firmly textured with a few raisins embedded. However, it’s questionable how much room you will have left after going through so much beforehand though…
Next on the sugary agenda is chocolate panforte with warm caramel sauce. The traditional Italian Christmas dish is full of nuts and chewiness. The caramel sauce complements it wonderfully, though you have an option to try the dish with chocolate too.
Finally, we wrap things up with Struffoli. These sticky deep-fried dough balls are coated with honey and sugar sparkles may resemble a Neopolitan gulab jamun if they weren't so much firmer in texture than the desi dessert.