For regular readers of this website, you will know that I am forever looking for the perfect weekend breakfast place. I have got it into my head that this magical place must have a relaxed energy to it, ideally located in a little piazza surrounded by rustic Tuscan houses and flower gardens or perhaps tucked away somewhere green yet urban, like Central Park. Or even somewhere iconic like an old bank or church with high ceilings and lots of history.
So when the Serb made the choice of Urban Bistro, I immediately asked where it was in the hope that it could come close to any of these aforementioned criteria.
“CNN building, Media City, in the lobby.” She replied, and I sighed out loud. You see, I wasn’t able to veto her, as I had been on a bad run of restaurant choices recently and had reluctantly agreed to accept her decision, no matter what. So the CNN building it was.
As I drove through the quiet roads of Dubai, I reflected on my preconception of authenticity and came to rather startling conclusion, that in hindsight isn’t particularly startling in the slightest.
Every city on this planet is unique, with a distinctive heartbeat and rhythm. Rio and Munich are as different to one another as they are distant from one another. Ho Chi Min city is vastly different than Dallas, just as Budapest is nothing like Beijing.
However, they all have authenticity in their own way, no matter what city it is. Even Vegas has authenticity. Furthermore, you can’t compare Dubai to London no matter how much you want to or the media tries to. London was founded in 43 AD and Dubai was founded a couple of Tuesdays ago. Seriously though, London has approximately a one thousand and ninety year head start. Of course they are going to have old banks with high ceilings and lots of history.
London has the Wolseley in Piccadilly and Dubai has The Urban Bistro in the CNN building in Media City. Both are as authentic as each other, in that respect. It is what it is.
So with my heart lifted and my head clearer, we headed to Media city to enjoy some breakfast at Urban Bistro.
Urban Bistro obviously caters for the media city workers during the week with a healthy, hipster salad bar and take away food such as protein crisps and Filipino mango chocolate. There are health bars and super juices. Either Media City workers are all fatties or they take their health seriously.
There are dresses for sale on a rack by the cold cabinets and on the bar area there are second hand handbags and scuffed Jimmy Choo shoes for sale. I didn’t really register it when I was there, but now that I write it down, it does seem rather odd. I don’t know if they are there all the time or only rolled out for the weekends.
However, the restaurant itself is a pleasant little room with good use of mirrors and bookshelves to give off the impression you are in your living room. There is a nice little terrace overlooking the Media City lake, which might be enough to get me back in cooler months.
I wish a restaurant serving breakfast would get creative with their egg choices. There must be hundreds of innovative, fresh and exciting egg recipes out there. Out of nine egg options on the menu, three were variations of omelette, four were variations of benedict, and one was your choice of eggs. The only original and interesting egg dish was the eggs baked in avocado with cayenne and parmesan. So, of course, I went for the breakfast burrito, which was nice, but I expected something better. It was too similar to a Zataar Zeit wrap, and I think that’s because they both use a lot of cheese and there were no other flavours bursting through.
The Serb had the ham and cheese omelette, which in presentation could have been fluffier. But, the Serb seemed to enjoy it, and when asked for feedback she said, “It’s really good. You can’t taste the egg.” I have no idea what that means and as usual, I’m too scared to ask.
Urban Bistro emphasizes the message of healthy eating and super foods, but still adorns the menu with burgers, pasta alfredos and club sandwiches. Which just confirms what I believe all along. If asked in a survey, my preference between a quinoa salad and a Big Mac, I’ll tick the quinoa salad every day of the week. However, in reality, you better supersize those fries. But give me a diet coke, please.
Having said that, the menu actually looks solid. There is nothing there that hasn’t been done before, and the place won’t win any awards for originality, but there are some interesting interpretations of some classics. The risk is, of course, that if you are targeting office workers two or three times a week, your menu needs to be kept fresh and relevant. The print date on the menu was October 2014. Almost a year without change. Just a observation.
The service was smooth and the coffee was good. I don’t know if the handbags and shoes shrine had some sort of laws of attraction thing going on, but there were significantly more women than men having breakfast. The men were probably ordering their Big Macs. However, everyone seemed happy.
Urban Bistro is a nice little place, probably very popular for the Media City crowd, and a nice place for a breakfast if you are in the area. They know who they are, and in that, they are authentic Dubai.
The Serb is still there, looking at the shoes and handbags.