As usual, I was horribly lost in Jumeirah again, for the second weekend in a row. The last time, I had an excuse, as there was a road closure that I could hang the blame on, but this time, it was all on me. The usually unflappable SatNav voice was conveniently silent, and thanks to my increasingly frantic left-hand turns deeper and deeper into Jumeirah, I was in danger of getting a sideward look from The Serb. You don’t want a sideward look from the Serb – it is like the gaze of Medusa.
So, it was with a huge sense of relief that I pulled up in front of Stomping Grounds – which of course was not where I meant to go, but any port in a storm will do.
Stomping Grounds is Dubai’s answer to that coffee shop in Friends. It’s where Joey, Rachel, Ross and Chandler Bing would hang out if they lived in Jumeirah and drove G-wagons and Cayennes. The other two would also hang out there, but I can’t remember their names.
A self-proclaimed specialty coffee hub, Stomping Grounds is a cozy, intimate café with a feel good factor. You would feel happy with a Facebook check-in and a quick Instagram post of your coffee next to a dog-eared copy of Shantaram, with a caption, ‘Happy Sunday everyone!’
The coffee bar took center stage and was overflowing with young waiters and waitresses, carrying notepads and pencils along with their hopes and dreams. All the fancy brewing apparatus were visible, such as the cold brew that takes twelve years to produce 7/8th of a drop of liquid, or the Steampunk machine that requires an iPhone app and retina scans of four different baristas to switch on.
Along with their in-house roaster, it is obvious they take their coffee very seriously, and they join a growing list of accomplished Caffeine Heads in Dubai that are elevating the quality (and ahem, the price – don’t think we don’t notice!) of the good old cup o’ joe. Our coffees arrived quickly and were well-crafted beverages of very good quality. (In Jumeriah, you have to use words like crafted – especially when talking pretentiously about coffee, which I do a lot to anyone who will listen.)
The interior is polished concrete, varnished wood, re-upholstered retro-period chairs, and warehouse chic lighting. The food is served on slate and wooden boards and stoneware. You get the idea – it is as hipster as you can get in Jumeriah. Which means there are no beards or body piercings – you want those, go to Al Quoz and pay for parking!
I am reluctant to tell you about the menu because I get the feeling that when I do, there will be a collective “Oh, of course, they do,” from the five of you that read this far into a review.
So, just in case you can’t guess what’s on the menu, they have breakfast items such as home made granola, Quinoa Delight, Exotic Chia and French Toast.
They have a Croque Madam called Load O’ Croque and a Baked Egg Boat as well. Throw in a couple of bagel choices and some pancakes and you have yourself a menu that is just about on trend.
However, we weren’t there for breakfast – we were meant to be somewhere else for breakfast, but as I explained, I took a few wrong turns and breakfast turned into a late lunch.
The ‘lunch onwards’ menu reads a lot better – halloumi pear salad, breaded prawns, and gluten free bruschetta. They also had things like lobster thermidor and truffle fries (we were in Jumeirah, remember) and Philly steak with a twist. Solid café culture food with enough choices that most people should find something they like. Even the gluten intolerants.
I’m reluctant to tell you what The Serb ordered because I get the feeling that when I do, there will be a collective “Oh, of course, she did” from the three of you that read this far into a review.
So, just in case you can’t guess, The Serb ordered the slider burgers. They arrived on a wooden board, and because we were in Jumeriah (have I mentioned that already?) there were four sliders, not the usual three. There was a sweet chutney of sorts along with a potato bun that held the integrity of the slider very well. The meat, although seasoned well, was a little over tenderised with a very fine grain, so it was almost like a pate rather than a patty. (see what I did there?!)
I ordered the loosely named BBQ chicken pizza that was home to chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and a bunch of other toppings as well. The crust was stone baked and should have been left on the stone another few minutes – it arrived looking a little pale, although the structure of the dough was open, evenly baked and didn’t suffer from a soggy bottom. I hate a soggy bottom. It was a surprisingly good pizza, seeing as they offer so much variety on their menu.
What needs a mention are the staff – they are friendly, attentive and sharp enough to engage in conversation with both expats and locals alike. However, if I had access to such pure caffeine, I would talk to everyone as well.
Stomping Grounds know that their coffee will always take center stage, both in focus and quality, although the food menu shouldn’t be overlooked either. All in all, Stomping Grounds is a great little place to get lost in for a few hours.