Jumeirah Beach Road, in Jumeirah One was always the link to Dubai’s heritage and a magnet for expat pioneers. It is home to three malls that blazed a trail for the rest of them – The Jumeirah Beach Center, The Village Mall, and Palm Strip Mall. It is home to one of the first and perhaps only remaining Magrudy’s bookstores, and expat favourite Spinneys is still operating there too. There is the Marine Club too, and back in the day, between The One and IKEA, your villa was guaranteed to look exactly like everyone else’s.
Fifteen years ago, Jumeirah One was the center of now. Life didn’t get much better. Large milky cappuccinos with an imported copy of HELLO! magazine, pilates with Sergio followed by a manicure and a carrot cake from Lime Tree Café. Bring back the Naughties!
Imagine my surprise when I heard that a new café, Society Café and Lounge had just opened, right in the heart of this land that time forgot. Didn’t they know this was protected land? A living time capsule of how people used to exist – before Deliveroo and WhatsApp allowed us to stop talking to one another. Before Amazon bought Souq and Netflix meant we would never have to leave the house. Where was their sense of respect for the past? What the heck were they trying to pull here? You want to open a brand-new café or restaurant, go up to JLT or talk to Meraas.
Anyway, it’s open now, and there is nothing we can do about it. Except go and have a look at what all the fuss is about.
It turns out – Society is pretty good. There’s a convenient parking lot out front, and you walk immediately into an open, airy glass conservatory. On a brisk November morning, it is a wonderful, light, spacious room, but I fear for it under the intense summer sun – air conditioning is no match for midday sun through sheets of slightly curved glass.
Society is what I call an Instacafe – which, in hindsight, is a terrible name as it sounds like a freeze-dried coffee brand.
Society is a direct reflection of the Instagram age – it is a chic, attractive space, with subtle touches of glamour throughout. It has been conceived with a careful eye on angles, natural lighting, and neutral colours. Blurred backgrounds are abundant, as are neutral marble table tops and pastel coloured stoneware plates and bowls – every Instagrammers favourite things.
In the middle of the conservatory, there is a pastry display where they have trapped croissants and pastry specimens under massive glass bell jars, like some gastronomic laboratory experiment.
The place was full when we arrived, which is a good sign for restaurant boss Darrell Guest and his investors. With his help, we nabbed the only table left and had a look through the menu.
The menu is solid – it is a robust café menu, with some excellent options. Breakfast, eggs, salads, burgers, larger plates, and desserts. Chef Jarek is clearly going for recognizable comfort food over pushing culinary boundaries, and he is absolutely right to.
The acoustics are not so great in the conservatory, and with the background noise reverberating off every hard surface, I was worried about the integrity of the pastry samples. They might be compromised.
The Serb’s mother is in town and speaks no English, so it’s always fun to watch the server do his best table talk, to what looks like a highly engaged customer, who, in reality, hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about.
We ordered the baked eggs and the avocado toast (guess who ordered that) with some cappuccinos and a flat white. The Mother Serb was asked how she wanted her baked eggs, and she smiled and nodded. I asked for mine soft.
As soon as the waiter went to punch our order, we immediately moved tables, without telling anyone, as the Serb saw a quieter table open up in the back. Always a good way to test the communication skills of the service staff.
Credit to them, they spotted our table migration and swiftly bought our coffees and drinks over without any fuss or drama.
The service team seemed genuinely friendly and approachable, and there was lots of table discussions, friendly chats and smiles, and laughter. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t like that at the launch, but it was good to see they are finding their feet so soon after opening.
The food arrived looking bloody fantastic. Chef Jarek has clearly been on an Instagram cooking course. The baked eggs were served in a cast iron skillet, nestled in a hearty, spiced chorizo ragout, with chunks of creamy feta cheese. The eggs were cooked to soft, and the tomato ragout had a slight sweetness to it that went well with the chorizo.
The avocado arrived on a generous slice of sourdough toast, with cream cheese, smashed avocado, peas and micro herbs. It was a very green dish; the sort of dish the Hulk might eat as an hors-d’oeuvre before smashing something into oblivion. However, it was also well prepared – but you’d have to be pretty abysmal in the kitchen to mess up avo cream cheese on toast.
The waitress approached the couple at the table next to us as to ask if there was anything wrong with their meal, probably because they hadn’t taken any pictures of it.
The Serb got food envy from our neighbours and ordered the French Toast which arrived promptly. It could have benefitted from being cooked a little longer – some parts of the bread were very soggy with the egg mixture, but overall, it had good taste and flavour and would have done the French proud.
Although Society is not blazing any new trails, following firmly in the footsteps of Tom & Serg, Arrows and Sparrows, Pantry and the like, it has found a good home in Jumeirah One, and if their dinner business is anything like their breakfast, they’ve hit a little goldmine.
Society Cafe and Lounge
Tel:- 04 222 2811
Breakfast for three – 323 AED