As I confidently pulled into the Grand Hyatt hotel, we quickly realized that we had arrived at the wrong Hyatt. Luckily for me, I can depart just as confidently as arriving.
La Tablita is in the heart of Healthcare City, and as I drove past the obesity clinic on the corner, I told the Serb how hungry I was and that I couldn’t wait to skip the chips and put my face straight into some guacamole.
La Tablita is in the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights hotel, and to be honest, I think that’s all there is in that hotel. Getting there is difficult, there are no sign posts except for the Grand Hyatt, but we’ve already established that’s the wrong hotel. Once you arrive, however, someone has been brilliant with floor signage and a little Mexican breadcrumb trail leads you directly to the restaurant. Where was this guy when we were circling the building for ten minutes, I wonder?
The hostess led us to our table, and by the time we were seated at our booth, she had charmed both of us into submission. She took us through the rather complicated menu and taught us how to place our order. The Serb made notes, and I focused on finding the head sized bowl of Guacamole on the menu.
The idea of the menu is very on trend, even if the execution is not particularly user-friendly. They have a menu card called the Taco Shop & Ceviche Bar, where you fill in your choices for tacos or ceviches yourself, and then they have another menu where you verbally place your main order with the waiter. Here’s a little life hack for those planning a visit. You could probably give your entire order to the waiter and bypass filling in the card yourself. FoodSheikh is always looking for ways to make life easier!
Unfortunately, the restaurant space and design is nothing to write home about, and so I won’t.
What I will go on about are the service team and their attitude. The team are energetic, charismatic, and you leave feeling like you’ve made some new friends. They know their menu inside and out and are splendid at making favourite personal suggestions which, purely coincidently I’m sure, are the more pricier options. I think it‘s genuine enough, though, as the team kept coming back to check if we enjoyed their suggestion as if they had a competition going on.
The tacos are all individual, all priced at 12 DHS and with fourteen to choose from, it’s a good starting point. The Serb was on taco duty that night – she ordered four kinds, two chicken, one beef and one seafood. Unsurprisingly no vegetarian tacos made it onto the list. They all had very authentic sounding Mexican names, such as the Dorado, and the Texano and the Al Pastor, which in reality probably translates to gringo gobbledygook in Spanish. The crispy fish taco was excellent, especially with the Valentina hot sauce liberally applied. The chicken, however, was overcooked and quite dry. The sizes were great – the same size equivalent as a slider in the burger world. They are taco sliders.
The camarones al ajillo, (shrimp, garlic & mushrooms) comes out sizzling and it’s a punchy, confident dish. The garlic is strong – like Yoda and The Force strong – and possibly overpowers the more delicate flavours of the shrimp. However, wrapped in the soft flour tortillas, it is a great combination with wonderful textures and one of the highlights of the meal.
The queso con chorizo is melted mozzarella cheese in a chorizo meat sauce – wrap all that up in a soft corn tortilla, and it makes for a heavy, artery thickening little meal. However, in fairness, Mexican cuisine is not known for its delicacy and lightness.
You’ll be pleased to know that I got my guacamole as well – La Tablita’s guac is chunky, smooth and plentiful. I opted for the crispy duck topping because I’m greedy, but in hindsight, it didn’t make the dish any better.
You have a special treat this review – I don’t usually order or comment on dessert, but because I had made some new Mexican friends and they insisted that we try one of their desserts, I felt I couldn’t refuse.
The tres-leche vanilla cake with jalapeño ice cream is a contender for an award. The sponge is light, airy and moist, and once in your mouth, it explodes with smooth, creamy and sweet milk made from condensed, evaporated and heavy cream. Mexico is a country that celebrates a surprisingly joyous holiday called Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead – where they take the favourite food of the deceased to their graves as an offering. Apparently the tres-leche cake is popular offering on this day. I just feel that perhaps if the deceased hadn’t loved this cake so much, they might have lived a little longer. It is deceptively light and airy, but must whack a mean calorific punch.
In Mexico, the skill of cooking can be translated to “sazon” which literally means seasoning and meals are seen as an important way to preserve relationships. Due to the sazon of the chefs and the passion of the service team, I definitely intend to maintain my relationship with La Tablita – even if I can’t remember what hotel it is in.