I woke up the other day with a incredible urge for Mexican food. I was dreaming of soft flour burritos, crispy tacos and tostadas, with tangy avocados and slow cooked meats in a Yucatecan marinade. I was like a crazy pregnant lady with my food urges. So I gleefully booked at O Cacti, the Mexican house and cocktail bar at Pier 7. And as the day wore on, the excitement grew and I was looking forward to writing a worthy review.
At 7 pm, In the short elevator ride to the 2nd floor of Pier 7, I was almost bouncing with anticipation like a piñata being hit by a fat kid looking for the candy.
We got greeted by a hostess who made the terrible mistake of giving my Serbian partner the once over, up and down. She seated us on the terrace, and I managed to placate my partner who was sharing her thoughts about the hostess in terrifying detail.
The view was great – I always try to see the positive in everything and the view of the marina on a crisp February night was very pleasant indeed. After 15 minutes, the view was still pleasant, but my patience and enthusiasm were not. And when I say 15 minutes, I am not exaggerating – I used my timer on my phone. 15 minutes with no menus, no eye contact and no attention from anyone in the entire establishment.
So we left, and on the way past the host station, I shared my concerns with the manager who was leading up against the wall. He looked at me with eyes of a deeply resigned and beaten man.
Which is why this is a review about Cargo, the contemporary and industrial night spot on the 3rd floor. However, they have an advantage for this review. I arrived like a fragile young lamb, looking for solace and comfort. I couldn’t tell how the Serbian was feeling – she was maintaining impressive neutrality.
Cargo is a gastro bar, a grittier All Bar One, with exposed ceilings and a large open bar and restaurant area. The staff were great, but after my O Cacti experience, they could have spit on me and I would have said the same.
We were seated close to the terrace and given a rolodex of menu choices by a very friendly waiter who immediately tried to get us to start some serious drinking. Which I declined and the Serb didn’t.
The menu is Asian inspired, so we immediately both ordered the burgers. The Serbian ordered the trio of sliders and I went for the regular burger. However the menu has lots of teriyaki, ponzu (which I thought was a dodgy financial scheme) and sashimi marinated meats and vegetables.
Before our non-Asian burgers arrived, we ordered the summer rolls and the Cantonese spring rolls. Delightful. The summer rolls were a generous portion of crispy julienne vegetables wrapped in rice paper. The yuzu soya sauce was necessary to enhance the flavours, but I assume the chef already knew that. The Cantonese spring rolls were stuffed with a generous mix of tiger prawn and mozzarella. The flesh of the prawns was very apparent with every bite, with a fine partnership of the smoky prawns and light mozzarella. They were well cooked, however, perhaps on the slightly greasy side if I was being picky. Which I always am.
What I liked about Cargo, apart from being served, of course, was the mix of people that were there. From the staff to the customers, there was a great egalitarian representation of Dubai demographics. In a country that is trying to create a playground for two hundred and two different nationalities, it seems Cargo has managed it rather well.
And they serve customers as well which is a huge advantage to their south of the border cousins on the 2nd floor.
The burgers were good. Wagyu beef, as announced on the menu. My issue with Wagyu is when you slather it with wasabi mayo and stick in between two slabs of bread, the quality of the beef is lost. The distinction of the burger would not be diminished by using a less premium beef, in my opinion. The bread was good; not too sweet, with a well proportioned thickness to it. The wasabi mayo was not wasabi enough for my taste; I felt it could have packed a bit more of a punch. My partners sliders were well cooked and boasted to be served three different ways, however, my partner claims she couldn’t tell the difference. The French fries were French fries, but they were served in a tortilla shell, and knowing how much I wanted tortillas that night, it did feel like a slap in the face.
The total bill was a very reasonable 375aed for two people.
By the time we left, the place was buzzing, and the large open space we walked into earlier had become a rather intimate warehouse of engaged customers, energetic staff and a relaxed ambiance.
So I would like to thank O Cacti Mexican house for making my evening at Cargo lounge and Restaurant an enjoyable evening.
Cargo, 3rd Floor. Pier 7, Dubai Marina, 04 3618 129