With a grand staircase that belongs in an old American plantation house in the deep south, La Serre proves they know how to make a subtle statement of purpose. With theirtraditional wooden doors, encapsulated in a glass frame, La Serre boast that they know how to mix the modern with the timeless. Finally, with a white tiled, open plan kitchenintertwined with the dining room downstairs, La Serre screams their intent across the Boulevard – and what an intent it is. La Serre exploded onto the dining scene with an almightybang; much like nebulous gases exploding to create a new star. I know this happened quite some time ago, but as usual with the hype train; I am rarely in the first carriage, butrather, stuck back at the station wondering if I got the right platform.
Their breakfast menu is limited to only fourteen items, but it is a case of quality over quantity; substance over choice. There is nothing on trend here, no fancy Korean chickenquesadillas or Kale crisps. Their breakfast menu is timeless and simple, eggs, breads, fruits and waffles. The time the chefs saved on creating the choices, they put into perfectinghow to cook them.
Spread over two floors of the Vida Hotel, upstairs is the bistro, which despite the name, is actually a premium dining experience. The boulangerie downstairs is more relaxed andcasual, and that is where you will find the open kitchen and in my opinion, one of the most thoughtful spaces I have seen. Despite their menu being traditional and classic, theirdesign is bang on trend. The kitchen is the theatre; the staff are the actors and you, my dear friends, are there for the experience. Which is wonderful as long as the chefs behavethemselves, and refrain from all the nasty little habits that usually go unseen in closed kitchens.
As you walk onto the terrace, on a fresh December morning, you get an immediate sense of who La Serre is and what they are about. I know this is a bold statement, but La Serremight have just served me my favourite breakfast experience of the year. (I’m confident in saying that, because it’s already mid-December) The ambiance was just right – not toofrantic and energetic, but not too lazy and labourious either.
It was quite early when we arrived, although apparently they open at 6 am, which I think is rather romantic and authentic and utterly ridiculous. I ordered the scrambled eggs withsmoked salmon, and The Serb ordered the cheese omelet, before changing her mind to a plain omelet because the six grams of cheese would be “too heavy.” Having said that, thisis probably why she can still get into all her dresses, and I am contemplating elasticated waistbands on my trousers. I also added a plain croissant to my eggs order. I threw it ontothe order last, hoping my casual nonchalance towards the item would remove all calories from the all-butter dough. I feel it made little difference.
My eggs must have come from some sort of pedigree hen with superior taste genetics – they were cooked soft, with a touch of seasoning and cream and tracing-paper thin sheetsof smoked salmon gently laid on top – rich, decadent and utterly delicious. The cheese omelet without cheese was fluffy and moist. My only gripe is that it is served in an old-fashioned Staub deep dish pan. It looks great, but it does feel like you are having to dig your omelet out of a grave in order to eat it. And also, their coffee could be a little better. The dishes are not accompanied by anything, no fancy cherry tomatoes or complimentary hash browns. In typical French fashion, they serve you exactly what you order. However,the quality of the food makes such a bold statement that you feel like you don’t deserve anything else. Having said that, the Serb disagrees with me and thinks I am getting carriedaway by Christmas shopping and all the festivities and I am being far too generous with my praise. So I shall try to tone it down a little for the croissant review. Which, by the way,was definitely the finest, most inspired croissant ever to have been baked. In the history of time. Ever.
A good croissant is difficult to find in Dubai. To transform a rich butter-based dough into a pastry that’s simultaneously forgiving and flaky, with a brittle crust and a feather-lightinterior, is undeniably a difficult thing. With such pure ingredients —butter, salt and flour, the result can be unforgiving in the wrong hands. The chef’s mastery of the ingredients iscrucial, and a talented pastry chef is worth his or her weight in gold. La Serre’s croissant is a pastry you linger over, a pastry you gently tear into small pieces, trying to prolongthe enjoyment, wondering what your life will be once it’s finished. I genuinely am pleased to announce that La Serre’s croissant is one of the best I have experienced in a long time,and the pastry chef should be showered in gold – and to be honest, at 250 dhs for breakfast; they can afford it.
La Serre has got a strong reputation, and my somewhat dramatic praise aside; my breakfast was damn good. Which is why I am reluctant to ever return, for fear of it neverliving up to the mythical proportions it has reached in my memory. I suggest you try their breakfast if you haven’t already, but if you feel the same as I did, never go back. If youdon’t feel the same, keep returning until you do.