Restaurant Review: Sass Cafe
A chic taste of European high life in Dubai
Don’t be fooled by the name. Café would allude to it being casual bites in a brightly lit interior while sipping on an espresso with the girls, so basically, this is the polar opposite of what to expect. Decked out in goth-chic hues of black and red, complete with chandeliers and unique art in the form of a massive Kate Moss collage in the bar area, this is more a nod to the lifestyle of the rich and famous from its origins in Monte Carlo. Complete with live music from an amazingly talented songstress, who we make look even better when she puts her microphone in our faces to sing along (not our best moment), this is where service and entertainment are on-point and come together to get the pulse revved for a night of glamour.
To get our tastebuds going, we are presented with the ubiquitous bread basket and a trio of toppings that include an olive tapenade with a slightly bitter aftertaste, a contrasting fresh diced tomato salsa and a chicken liver pate. With each unique and equally delightful, it takes a lot of willpower to not finish the lot off while anticipating the first course.
The starters arrive in a steady stream, so that everyone seated at our vast table is served seamlessly at the same time. Classically presented in plain white crockery, the crispy calamari possesses a rich peppery deep fried crunch, perfectly balanced with hydrating courgette ribbons and a twist of lemony zing. The grilled tiger prawns served in an open butterflied shell reveal tender meaty morsels and although described as spicy on the menu is not the tongue-burning variety. Instead, each sublime bite is perfectly flavourful, boasting aromas of sweet chilli, for a well-rounded dish with divine flavour profiles. The burrata, although delicious is fairly run-of-the-mill, but nonetheless enjoyable. To halt the meal at this stage would be viable for light eaters and perhaps a good suggestion for those whose eyes will water at the upscale price tag.
For mains, I opt for the signature pan-fried classic fillet of beef, a la Sassa, a favourite of owner Sammy Sass (what a brilliant name)! Pan fried in butter and served with a chunky garlicky, tomato relish, this is steak for the lover of quintessentially Mediterranean haute-cuisine, which is so incredibly moreish that I forego the rule of trying a little bit of everything and decide to skip dessert to enjoy the plate in its entirety.
The experience is an expensive one and for most, reserved as special occasion territory. However, it’s a dining adventure that needs to be embarked upon at least once, possessing an old-school movie charm. We suggest that to enjoy to its full potential you should pull out all the stops, dress up and get your hair blow-dried, for a truly memorable meal where you will feel like the star of the show.
INFO: 12noon-3pm, 6pm-12midnight daily, Podium Level, Tower 2, Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC, 04 352 7722, www.sasscafe-dubai.ae
SASS CAFÉ’S CARPCACCIO DE BOEUF A LA SASSA
Beef Carpaccio with Dijon mustard mayonnaise and confit bell peppers
200g beef tenderloin
FOR THE DIJON MUSTARD MAYONNAISE SAUCE
1 egg yolk
60g Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp lemon juice
225ml corn oil
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
FOR THE CONFIT PEPPERS (MAKE THE DAY BEFORE)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
A few leaves fresh basil
A few sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A few stems of watercress
1. Prepare the peppers from the night before. Burn the skin until charred using a blow torch on the hob of a gas cooker or under a hot grill, then wipe clean with a cloth.
2. Remove the stamp and the seeds and cut into triangles.
3. Preheat the oven to 60C.
4. Mix the peppers with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt, sugar and fresh ground black pepper.
5. Place them on a baking tray and add the basil, crushed garlic and thyme leaves.
6. Place in the oven to cook overnight or until semi-dried.
7. Remove all fat from the tenderloin and cut into two equal portions.
8. Roll the beef tightly in clingfilm to achieve a round shape and freeze until hard.
9. Using a slicing machine cut the beef into 1 ½ mm slices and place directly on to your serving plate.
10. Cover with clingfilm and keep chilled until required.
11. To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor.
12. Gradually add the corn oil until the sauce become a smooth mayonnaise.
13. Remove the carpaccio from the fridge and remove the clingfilm.
14. Season with salt and pepper and then using a squeezy bottle or piping bag, pipe evenly-spaced lines of the Dijon mayonnaise over the top of the carpaccio.
15. Garnish the plate with the confit of peppers yellow and some watercress if desired.