No doubt about it, the French love their food. But there’s an art to the eateries of Paris and Bordeaux which is about so much more than the finest ingredients. That the food on the plate is seasonal, fresh, high quality and prepared with love is a given. For Gallic foodies, the standard of service, the ambience and the hint of romance in the air is every bit as important. On all these fronts and more, Bord Eau is a true pleasure.
While the view from the huge picture windows could not be more definitive of the capital, being that of the soaring minarets of the capital’s stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the stunning chandeliers, Degas-inspired artwork and easy listening sounds are very much in the style of a Parisian salon.
Staff are hugely knowledgeable and passionate about the menu, to a degree many of the UAE’s other fine dining establishments could learn from. And rightly so, for what a menu. With its Brittany Lobster, truffles from Perigord and imported cheeses, it had us salivating before the pen hit the order pad.
An amuse bouche of the most flavourful tomato and olive oil consommé was quickly served to whet our appetites, followed by some seriously moreish oregano bread of which, thankfully, we were offered more…
A second introductory plate of black truffle ravioli with porcini marmalade, braised chestnuts and an intensely savoury chicken broth was slurped in silence, before our starters arrived afore us, plated so artfully it seemed a crime to meddle. VIVA’s dining companion chose to start with a special of pan seared foie gras, the rosy hue inside clearly visible across the table, while we opted for a lighter dish of Loch Fyne salmon and scallop carpaccio. The slow cooked tranche of fish was meltingly tender, the scallops extraordinarily fresh and the fennel foam perfect with both, but the real star of the show – and I can’t believe I’m writing this – was the selection of crunchy vegetables, sliced to transparent thinness, occasionally giving off just the slightest hint of vinegar and more beautiful than any accompaniment should rightly be.
Thankfully, I wasn’t left reeling from my veggie conversion for too long, the arrival of my Charolais beef fillet proving far too distracting. Cooked to a perfect tender medium rare, it was a majestic piece of meat, while the accompanying Bord Eau sauce was so intensely savoury and sticky as to tempt me to forgo manners and resort to scraping the plate. Our second choice of milk-fed lamb, cooked two ways and served with aubergine caviar, pearl onion and lamb juice, was similarly triumphant while the matched grape could not have been better selected.
Space was now at a premium, but it would have been rude not to indulge in dessert – and thank goodness for our sacrifice. My praline macaroon, light and crisp yet chewy and with a hit of fine sea salt to temper the sweetness, was simply perfect. Meanwhile, I won’t spoil the surprise of the special desert, a chocolate extravaganza, other than to say that it was obscene. In a very good way…
60 seconds with Chef Alexandre Pernetta
What ingredients could you not live without?
Salt, olive oil and thyme.
Where do you find inspiration for new dishes?
From the seasons and from my childhood. My family prepared traditional dishes with fresh, seasonal ingredients and my culinary creativity still works best with these wonderful masterpieces of nature.
What’s been your biggest kitchen disaster?
I make it a point to avoid kitchen disasters by being prepared – but I did once have a funny incident with a wedding cake causing a huge mess in my kitchen…
What’s in Bord Eau’s fridge at the moment?
Brittany lobster, turbot, black truffles and milk-fed lamb.
What did you last cook at home?
What’s you culinary guilty pleasure?
What’s the biggest cooking sin of home cooks?
Not taking their time. People usually rush things, leading to a poor quality of dishes created.