Tribeca is a new eating establishment, taking its name from the reclaimed industrial wasteland area in New York City. Those clever New Yorkers back in the early 70’s started naming districts based on city mapping abbreviations. So, for example, SoHo came from South of Houston Street and Tribeca because it was The Triangle Below Canal Street. My favorite is BoCoCa. I don’t know why it’s called that, but it’s just fun to say.
However, I don’t know why people are so concerned about copying other places, when a little bit of originality could work. They could have called themselves SoMa, due to them being located South of the Marina. I’m going to start a petition.
It takes a brave person to drive down to JBR on a weekend night, even in August, when I braved it. The Dubai Marina suffers from master planning inefficiencies when it comes to traffic flow, parking options and general access. I don’t know how anyone who stays there ever gets any visitors. It must be very lonely living there. They could have called themselves SoBra – derived from being so brave in travelling there, but that sounds like something a spaced out surfer would say, so maybe not.
I think I knew what to expect from Tribeca before I even arrived there. I was expecting exposed ceilings, Edison light bulbs, brick walls and generally an industrial feel. When you call yourself Tribeca, there isn’t much else you can do and I wasn’t disappointed. However, there were more touches that I hadn’t expected and quite enjoyed. References to pop culture were dotted around, with a wall painting of Daniel Day Lewis in his most underrated role as Bill the Butcher and local photographer, Martin Beck’s grizzly, battered Superman smoking a cigarette.
Amongst the reclaimed materials, such as wine box ceiling features and wooden pallet tables, they had a plant in a birdcage. Perhaps this symbolizes the inevitability of growth and life despite society’s best attempts to keep us trapped and caged. Or perhaps it is simply a plant in a bird cage.
Tribeca is a good looking restaurant – from the attractive staff, (whose employment requisite is to look good in tight jeans) to the customers, to the interior, this is one good looking place. Perhaps the most attractive place in the SoMa area. (See what I did there?!)
From a place that has a suitcase stuffed with cash chained to the ceiling, the menu is surprising in its direction. It boasts organic and wholesome foods with simple ingredients, and our starter of the Burrata, which is just mozzarella cheese with more calories, was fresh, clean and plush. Discovering Burrata is like the first time you try poached eggs – you won’t forget it, regardless of how you feel about it.
People come to a restaurant to connect, converse and engage, and the music levels made it very difficult for tables to do that. I think what exasperates the issue is that reclaimed materials are not the most acoustic friendly. Exposed ceilings, glass and concrete are incredibly good at bouncing sound around a room – and not in a good way. The bar area was getting busier than the restaurant area as the evening went on, and Tribeca need to be careful on what they are trying to become. It’s extremely difficult to get both the bar and the restaurant dynamic right – you are primarily either one or the other. In this sense, Tribeca was neither.
The food arrived and I had the grilled chicken which unfortunately was a little too simple and underdeveloped as a dish to warrant the 120 dhs + price tag. The seasoning was so subtle; it was almost as if the chef forgot entirely. The crumbled bits of feta cheese and figs (I think – it was dark) did help the dish somewhat on the flavour front though. Halfway through, I luckily found my missing seasoning – it had been dusted across the top edge of my plate. Maybe they were aiming for the chicken and missed.
The ravioli pasta was the artisan type, which basically means someone stuffed it by hand, rather than bought it in a shop. However, whoever did the stuffing did a great job. Six or seven little parcels of perfectly cooked pasta stuffed with a creamy beetroot mascarpone filling. The deep-red beet mixed with the pea foam created a satisfyingly sweet, yet savoury balance. The only issue I had was the portion was too small. The reason it was my issue was because the Serb, upon finishing, moved onto mine without breaking stride.
I think Tribeca is a well thought out concept, and is a wonderful sign of the confidence of the industry. Their focus on the arts, music and community will bring something special to the SoMa area and I look forward to watching them grow and improve, especially on the food side of things. They have a first rate set of staff and managers, but will need to keep turning those tables if they want to keep them.
As we left, I noticed, at the bar, they were advertising Rakia, which is a drink from the Balkans region used primarily for torture and punishment. Luckily the Serb didn’t see it, otherwise this review would have been completely different.