Beyond the relentless rat race of Dubai, behind all the construction and traffic and noise of Beach Road lives a time warp, a hidden commune that operates outside the expected norms of Dubai. It is a tranquil, serene garden; a parallel universe where you feel that time has stood still, all problems are on hold, all phone calls can wait, and all emails are no longer important – at least for a few hours.
Behind Jumeirah Center is One Café – a peaceful little garden that doubles as a restaurant. Fifty cute little seats spread around a garden full of trees, flowers and life. Here I must warn you, however, that what I type next will thin the herd and cause many of you scrambling for the close window button.
This cafe is a vegan, health restaurant. I’m talking full on – tie dye t-shirts, meditation with crystals and free love, (figuratively speaking). This is the real deal, no cute little kale salads underneath the double fried ribs. We are talking flax seed crackers, zucchini lasagna, raw tabbouleh with nut balls and carrot cupcakes with cashew cream. Still here? Excellent.
As I looked at the menu, I wondered how I was going to be able to review a menu that puts such severe restrictions on itself. The restrictions being that there are like, only five ingredients allowed, and they all have no flavour, substance or fun.
We ordered the green juice and the SMB smoothie. The green juice is mainly cucumber, kale and spinach and tastes exactly like a mouthful of some field in Derbyshire. But, it was fresh, cold and full of goodness. If I were a cow, it would be my drink of choice.
The hummus and vegetable sticks were as good as anywhere else, although quite heavy on the garlic.
I had a vegetarian burger, just because I found comfort in the word burger. I like to try new things, but I’m not crazy. The burger was packed full of good things like buckwheat, potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and cumin. I felt like a little child being tricked into eating healthy under the disguise of a tasty burger.
Once the Serb finally understood the concept of veganism, she picked the menu back up off the floor and chose the gluten free pasta salad. It was mixed with black olives, peppers, cherry tomatoes and broccoli. It got the mark of approval from the Serb, who conceded that it was rather tasty, filling yet light.
What is great about this little place is that you feel like you are in a safe food zone – nothing on the menu is going to thicken your arteries or cause you long term damage. It is like a straitjacket and padded cell for unhealthy people.
There is a chalk board wall where people are encouraged to finish the sentence, “Before I die I want to…. “ Reading the responses is quite fun – there are people that want to make a difference and save the world and be successful and work with children and climb Everest. These are all admirable goals and certainly worthwhile aspirations. Then there are the people that are a bit more realistic and straightforward in their objectives. Some people just want to be patient or happy, or simply start a family. But my favourite on that wall by far was written by someone extremely at peace with themselves. They apparently felt that their entire life was already complete; all goals had been achieved that the only thing left to do before dying was to brush a fox. That’s right – “Before I die, I want to brush a fox.” What a beautiful place to be in life. I too, want to brush a fox.
The service is like the atmosphere – tranquil and calm. No-one is in a hurry here, and you’ll be served at exactly the time you were meant to be served. Relax and enjoy the trees. I honestly urge you to take a moment, close your eyes and take a few deep slow breaths. Open your eyes and immediately feel better. Then send me a message to thank me – and quickly check your emails while you’re at it.
The menu is small and limited, but once you consider the juices, the mains and the desserts, it is a rather impressive selection. However it is not cheap – our meal came in at 350 dhs for two people. Although you leave with your wallet lighter, your heart, your stomach and somehow, your mind also feels lighter as well. That’s well worth the price of admission.
Before you all die, I recommend you stop by One Café at least once, and see for yourself. As for me, I am going to look for a fox to brush.