Restaurant Review: Cle Dubai
Avg. Cost per Person:250 Dhs
Location:Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC , Dubai
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Sun-Thu 5pm-2am; Fri 7am-2am
04 352 5150
The business-like building called Al Fattan Currency House in the Dubai International Financial Centre is probably the last place I would expect to find one of the most happening resto-bars in Dubai, but that’s the beauty of it.
I’m not too familiar with the DIFC area so finding this place was a bit of a challenge (it took me two U-turns back on the main road to get back to the building car park after I missed a turn). After overcoming that challenge, my companion and I found ourselves at the red carpet entrance that led to the reception where we were greeted by smiling hostesses in smart cocktail dresses.
We already had a reservation, so we were quickly guided to our table, which was past the lounge bar and into the restaurant area where we took a table for two on the farthest end, near the waiters’ station. This proved to be a good spot for some privacy, away from the dancing crowd (the lounge bar turns into a dance area with a DJ at close to midnight) and just near enough to be in the peripheral vision of our waiter, who was attentive but never intrusive.
Décor is a big deal in Cle Dubai. Think The Great Gatsby: chic, sleek, sophisticated and ostentatious. There are various seating areas to suit the mood—velvet chairs with low tables, leather couches and dark wood dining tables with beautiful lighting fixtures accenting the place.
We arrived just a little past 8pm on a Friday night and already two tables were occupied by groups of four, and another two by couples. The terrace lounge was closed when we visited because the weather wasn’t so good earlier in the day.
As soon as we were seated, a waiter quickly approached us to take our order. We didn’t have to wait too long for the entrees to arrive and by the time the food was served, we realised that yes, presentation is a big deal in Chef Malouf’s turf.
Everything looked like art on a plate. Modern Middle Eastern fusion art on plate. Most of the food served here are good to share, so we made single orders. We started with a small mezze of hummus, tabouleh and moutabel served with warm, Arabic bread.
Then we were served fresh grilled scallops with Greque dressing. My favourite. It was so good the only thing left on the plate were the huge shells. We also shared a plate of burratta, which was just the right amount of creamy and blended beautifully with the fresh courgette salad.
The sea bass and the Moroccan pastilla (savoury meat pie) followed. Initially I thought there was too much herb on the sea bass, but surprisingly it wasn’t overpowering and was cooked perfectly well done just as I like it.
The pastilla was so beautifully plated that I couldn’t bring myself to eat it without taking a snapshot. The stuffed pastry sat on a plate dusted with powdered sugar that formed an intricate hand of fortune. I felt almost guilty slicing into the pie and thinking that I’m ruining the entire presentation—a feeling that quickly dispersed after I took the first bite. Yes, this one tasted as good as it looked.
Finally, the slow-roasted lamb with a small stack of smoking hay made a grand entrance at our table. I must say the trail of thin wasps of white smoke was so eye-catching I almost forgot about the lamb and the side dish of creamy mashed potato that came with it. Distracting presentation aside, it was a beautiful dish in total, with perfectly juicy and tender meat. Definitely one of the winning dishes at this restaurant.
Adding to the dramatic food and ambiance were performing acrobats that entertained diners from 10:30pm onwards. There is definitely not a boring second at Cle Dubai—that is for sure. There were pole dancers and performers that twirled swords, long strips of satin or glow-in-the-dark sticks. All tables were occupied and a crowd was building up near the lounge bar. The lights have also dimmed a little. The party mood was building up, and that was the icing on our dessert.