Restaurant Review: La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie
When you make your entrance at La Serre’s upstairs Bistro, you can expect to be immediately transported to the stylish European cities of Paris or the Med, with the only dead giveaway of your actual location being the sparkly Dubai skyline; visible, if you are lucky enough to get one, from any table near the window. Minimalist and chic, the all-white and pine décor encased in glass is perfectly complimented by a smattering of chandeliers throughout; a glamorous touch to the open kitchen at the entrance displaying fresh, seasonal ingredients. The atmosphere is vibrant and buzzing with diners for a mix of reasons; some discussing business, others having a girlie catch up and a couple celebrating their anniversary. While it’s an elegant, one place-fits-all type of restaurant, it’s an expensive ambience, with dishes priced toward the upper scale of what has become expected as the norm.
The service is swift; perhaps a tad too much at times, leaving you feeling a little rushed and unable to completely relax, probably a given when they are turning tables faster than David Guetta. Wanting to get your order to the kitchen as soon as possible, waiting staff are well-versed and appear to know every ingredient in every dish, which is just as well, because the entire menu is in French. We opt for the onion tart to start and the marinated prawns, followed by mains of Chilean Seabass and the 50-hour cooked beef short ribs.
The tart is quite simply a caramelised onion pizza, topped with cherry tomatoes and peppering of crème fraiche. It’s deliciously sweet and served in slices so you can tuck in with ease using your hands. The marinated prawns follow suit but in more savoury style, boasting heavy tones of garlic and rosemary, accompanied by a thick slab of toasted sour bread to mop up any remaining sauce.
My main of Seabass was a tad disappointing; despite its beautiful appearance of a meaty white fillet, it was far too rich to finish, and it appears that the chef clearly believes that there is no such thing as too much olive oil. In my opinion less is more in this case and an element on citrus in this dish could introduce its much needed balance. However, my partner (who is impossible to please by the way) was so in love with his short rib that he later commented (as he was far too busy chomping away at the time to say a word), that they were juicy and tender and made him want to burst into his own rendition of the song Relight My Fire. Go figure.
For dessert, we go with the breakfasty dish of French toast which is served with ice cream and maple syrup. It’s an unusual way to end the meal, but in the absence of the salted caramel tart, that is seasonally available and is one of our Group Ed Sarah’s favourite desserts, this is a solid choice that I sadly only got to take a bite of, as it was licked clean by my very hungry other half!
INFO: Bistro 12noon – 3pm, 7pm – 3am, Bistro Bar 12noon-12 midnight, Boulangerie 6.30am-10.30pm daily, Vida Downtown Hotel, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, 04 428 6966, email@example.com
LA SERRE’S SALTED CARAMEL TART
For the pastry
80g plain flour
30g icing sugar
1 tbsp of almond powder
A small pinch of salt
For the salted caramel
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp Madeira wine (optional)
3 pinches of salt
165ml double cream
1 tbsp Muscovado sugar
2 egg yolks
1 Begin by preparing the pastry. Add the flour, icing sugar, almond powder, butter and salt into a mixing bowl and combine until it resembles bread crumbs.
2 Crack one egg into a separate bowl, then add half of the egg mixture to the mixing bowl until the breadcrumbs form a ball of dough.
3 Cover the ball in cling film and put into the fridge for three hours to rest.
4 While the dough is resting, prepare the salted caramel filling.
5 Add the sugar slowly into a hot pan to caramelise it, stirring occasionally.
6 Add the Madeira wine if using, and combine.
7 After one minute, add the cream and salt and mix together.
8 In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and Muscovado sugar together.
9 Remove the pan from the heat and add the contents of the pan to the bowl, stirring to combine. Set then mixture aside.
10 Preheat the oven to 160C.
11 Remove the pastry dough from the fridge once ready and roll out to around ½ cm in thickness.
12 Use a pastry tin or ring around 20cm in diameter and grease thoroughly.
13 Roll out the pastry to fit perfectly into the base and up to the top of the rim of the pastry tin, cutting neatly.
14 Place greaseproof paper onto the base of the tin on top of the pastry and weigh down with dried or baking beans.
15 Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
16 In a small bowl mix the remaining egg yolk with 2 tbsp of cream to make an egg wash.
17 Remove the pastry from the oven and brush with the egg wash.
18 Place into the oven for another five minutes until golden.
19 Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature of the oven to 110C.
20 Pour the salted caramel mixture into the pastry base and bake in the oven for 28 minutes.
21 Remove the tart from the oven and allow to rest for 1 hour.
22 Cut into slices as desired.