Restaurant Review: Eloquent Elephant
Avg. Cost per Person:399 Dhs
Location:Taj Dubai, Business Bay , Dubai
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Every December, the hunt begins. No, not for presents tucked away in closets (I wish!), nor Santa’s sleigh up in the skies (he’s usually in a mall here in Dubai), nor even for discounted end-of-season air tickets (that’s too much of a Christmas miracle!). Rather, I’m frantically chasing after gluten-free turkey.
If you’ve stopped reading right here, spare a charitable thought for your fellow man. And if you say turkey’s naturally gluten-free anyway, you’d be right and wrong. While the bird itself is usually guaranteed to be free of icky wheaty bits, it usually comes with trimmings that remain off-limits for those who don’t want to spend Christmas Day worshipping a porcelain goddess. Gravy and bread sauce, I’m looking at you. Roast potatoes, I know you took a dip in the flour before crisping up.
I’m delighted to report from the trenches, then, that last night’s pre-Christmas binge at the Eloquent Elephant left me with no ill-effects to complain about, beyond the usually vague sense of fullness one is left with after an overly-indulgent festive meal. But what a meal — and it came alongside gluten-laden versions for my two dining companions.
The classy pub over at the Taj Dubai has hoovered up a few awards recently, and we’re pleased to report that the food matches up. After the requisite glass of mulled beverage, warm and comforting with this nip in the air, we broke out the starters — and all of it came with gluten-free bread thanks to chef Nigel Lobo’s efforts.
Baked brie topped with macerated cherries and charred figs was an early winner, the cheese soft and almost fondue-like with the fresh fruit popping through cleverly. A smoked salmon carpaccio with avocado and sour cream and pickled cucumbers was a lovely twist on the festive classic — and the salmon was nice and meaty with none of the oily or briny flavours so common to buffet varieties. The best bit was the beautifully light steak tartare, however, inspired by the Italian recipe — so rather than mustard and Worcestershire sauce, Lobo uses lemon zest and parmesan for a much cleaner flavour. Topped with quail egg and accompanied by a micron-thin Melba toast, this is a dish that should make it to your Dubai food bucket list.
A massive dinner plate arrived next, laden with turkey, chunky roast potatoes and roast parsnips, red cabbage and bacon, tender Brussels sprouts and French beans, and on the side, cranberry jelly, bread sauce and gravy — all, yes, gluten-free. No, the turkey isn’t brined, and yes, it was breast meat (I’m a leg man myself), so while it was moist, I wasn’t blown away. But that bread sauce... I could have licked the bowl clean.
Dessert was a stupendous pavlova — one Lobo debuted on Instagram six months ago and which I’ve been dying to get back to. Such an easy dessert to make gluten-free, but so hard to find here in Dubai. Cheerily dressed in red and white, it didn’t leave me hankering after a Christmas pudding (although I did have a twinge about the mince pie sundaes). The meringue was crisp but hearty — if you’ve ever had a hearty meringue — and it was topped with fresh raspberries and candied orange rind, with a berry and passionfruit coulis.
When food reviewers say we put our stomachs to the test for our readers, we mean it literally. If there was any cross-contamination, it didn’t affect me — I slept well last night, and this morning, I’m refreshed and alert. So if you’re coeliac, gluten-intolerant or merely a stodge-hater, you know where to go this Christmas.
The Eloquent Elephant is hosting a Christmas Brunch on December 25 from 2pm to 6pm, with a 3-course plated lunch, including roast turkey and trimmings, sage gnocchi with chestnut cream, spinach and mushrooms and desserts including traditional Christmas pudding. Price from Dh399.
The pub is also doing Takeaway Turkeys — bookable 48 hours in advance, with all the trimmings, festive cookies and homemade mince pies, ideal for six people, from Dh895.