Iftars somehow have come to mean the same thing in most restaurants – a sumptuous Arabic spread with the (regular) mezzes and meats. Nothing wrong in that of course except that if you are a foodie, you don’t want to eat the same ol' hummus, shish tawooks and moutabbles, every day of the Holy Month.
If change is something you crave, step right into Galvin, the stylish City Walk offering by Michelin-starred chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin. What’s different? Everything. A menu that takes inspiration from the region (Arabic) and pays tribute to the occasion (Ramadan) yet remains distinct to the ethos of the restaurant (Mediterranean), adding a fine, refined touch to the palate, Chef Rene's menu is special in more ways than one.
We were warmly welcomed by the very attentive staff who explained the beauty behind each dish. It began with dates – the quintessential item to break your fast. This one had a twist though. The dates had tahini mixed with a bit of honey, making it rather sweet. Not sure if that was necessary but an interesting change from routine, nevertheless. Also on the table was a side of freshly baked Josper grilled flat break, a Greek pita bread that was excellent and unlike anything I had had before. A pita bread with a difference? This was it!
It would perhaps be difficult to pick out any one dish for a special description as that would be unfair to the other that was equally worthy of praise. For instance, I loved the lentil soup (another Arabic regular) that was presented beautifully with yogurt foam and a dollop of parsley oil, lending it a unique taste. The starters that followed was delicate and supremely refined. How can you describe the Lamb Pastille, a pastry filled with minced lamb, fig and dates served on a bed of tzatziki (yogurt based) dip? Crunchy, slightly sweet and delicious to pop. I thought this was creative enough but that was before I tried the second starter – mushroom arancini, a perineal favourite. There was no experimentation on this one but the truffle, the crunch of the crust and the flavor of the filling, made it marvelous.
The real deal was yet to come though – in the mains. As soon as the friendly server lifted the lid off the dish, my senses were assailed with the warm, stinging yet mouth-watering aroma of garlic and butter. The Prawn and Scallop a la Plancha ticked all boxes of what a great dish should comprise. Perfectly grilled seafood swimming a garlic-flavoured butter, with the added flavor of powdered almonds (almost invisible) and other herbs. The shrimps and scallops were fresh and chunky, seeped in the garlicky flavor.
The other dish was the signature Lamb Tagine, the essence of the eight-hour slow-cooked meat having been considerably enhanced by the smoked aubergine puree it was served with. Lip smacking. We were too full to have desserts but the crème brulee pistachio kanafeh was too good to pass.
At the end of the meal, we wondered if it was a typical ‘iftar’ but it didn’t matter. What did was that it was a true festive celebration of flavours. Do not miss this one.
INFO: Diners can enjoy the Iftar Set Menu daily during Ramadan from Sunset to 9.00pm and is priced at Dhs199, Galvin Dubai, City Walk Phase 2