The Ribbon is a new strip mall style development at Motor City. I am at a loss as to why it is named The Ribbon, but it has to be in keeping with cars, and racing because if there’s one thing Dubai loves, it’s themed developments with appropriate names.
Crumbs Élysée takes the prime spot right on the corner of The Ribbon, and with forecourt parking, if you’re lucky, you can pretty much park right out front and choose your table from your car.
Crumbs Élysée was an impulse destination. The Serb and I were hungry and chose, on a whim, to try out Crumbs. As you walk through the corridors of The Ribbon, darkened restaurant doors swing open, and hostesses appear like sirens at sea, trying to entice you in with calls of coffee, salads, sandwiches.
Walking into Crumbs Élysée, the first thing that hits you is the sweet, sticky smell of shisha. Shisha tobacco smells exactly how it looks – and it is a sticky, thick tobacco paste. Despite shisha smoking being restricted to upstairs, it was still a punch in the face downstairs.
Our hostess led us into a fairly busy restaurant and gave us a table next to a window. I saw a couple in their car outside, shake their fist at us as we obviously had just taken the table they had chosen.
Crumbs Élysée looks like a Viking wedding reception room. There is a lot of wood, with a lot of rope fixtures and black iron lighting. When I say, there is a lot of wood, I really mean it. Your table and chair are wood, the napkin dispenser and table numbers are made from wood. There are wooden booths, which if you get the right angle, look like people are sitting in wooden Nordic barrel baths. Even the placemats are a photo of wood! The ceiling is wood. The partitions are wood. Some of the walls are wood. The staircase is wood. I would go on – I really would, but you get the idea.
Crumbs Élysée is a casual dining café, but distinctively Lebanese in its DNA. The shisha, the managers in suits, quick, efficient service, the hoummous and mint and lime juice – they all point to a Lebanese heritage.
Their menu is huge – upwards of one hundred and twenty items to choose from. It is an encyclopedia of world dishes – almost every cuisine is represented, from Italy to France to Levantine to Continental. My eyes jumped from dish to dish, from the eggs benedict to the foul medames, from red velvet pancakes to porridge, from burrata to chicken livers. There were salads and pizza, Lebanese grills and burgers. They had lobsters and shepherd’s pie. There was so much to choose from – this was the Walmart of restaurants.
The chef must be one of the most highly versatile culinary talents in Dubai to be able to deliver such a variety of flavours and techniques.
Luckily the Serb only looks for four items and rarely strays from her list. Burger, pizza, butter chicken or sweet and sour chicken – that’s what she goes for.
The salad was dispatched first from the kitchen. It came surprisingly quickly – a little too quickly for my liking. Food that arrives too quickly should be treated with suspicion, in my opinion.
The Waldorf salad was a hefty portion – made with the apples from a thousand trees, coated in thick mayonnaise and with too much chicken for two people to eat in one sitting. It was overly sweet, very heavy and, unless the Serb stole them all while I was admiring all the wood, it didn’t have any grapes or celery. Both Oscar Tschirky and Basil Faulty would not be happy, I suspect.
They chose a wooden board to serve the fried chicken waffle on. I’m just surprised they had any wood left over, to be honest. Again, the portion size was impressive – a prized chicken breast between two, inch-thick waffles, with lettuce and tomato. Despite looking like they could survive a direct hit from a hand grenade, the waffles crumbled into pieces at the merest touch. It was a dry, over sweet batter that was drizzled with too much honey – no balance in the flavour profile and far too sweet for a savory dish. A yellow manufacturer sticker was clinging onto a tomato slice for dear life. The chicken was left in the fryer too long and also came out dry and chewy. The fries were pretty good though. Clean oil, nice and crispy with a good amount of seasoning.
The KashKash kebabs were fatty minced meat mixed with parsley, pepper, crushed garlic and spices, covered in a seasoned tomato sauce. The kebabs themselves were actually quite good – some good flavour and texture came through. Unfortunately, the tomato sauce was very sweet and tasted like it perhaps came from a jar.
The word Élysée comes from Elysian, meaning heaven. It’s a bold association and certainly signals their ambition. However, I feel Crumbs’s challenge is their ambition to be everything to everyone. Ambition is a wonderful thing, but there is no need to try and master so many different dishes and recipes – find out what you’re good at and stick to it.
Like they stuck to the wood.