Discerning diner? It would be a ‘folly’ not to try this Dubai restaurant

The restaurant and lounge offers a smart, modern vibe. (Photos supplied)
Updated 26 December 2017
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Discerning diner? It would be a ‘folly’ not to try this Dubai restaurant

DUBAI: Probably the hottest restaurant opening in Dubai in 2017, Folly by Nick & Scott is well-worth a trip if you are visiting the city. The restaurant had a lot to live up to, not least its pedigree — headed by two of the brightest stars in the region’s culinary circuit, Nick Alvis and Scott Price, formerly Gordon Ramsay protégés, who then pioneered the indie chef-led restaurant trend with the acclaimed Table 9.
Having worked with Spinneys Food in the interim, Folly feels like the culmination of a long-cherished dream by the chef duo, along with their longstanding partner who runs the front-of-house operations, Viktorija Paplauskiene.
Then there is the location. Folly replaces the beloved Rivington Grill in Madinat Jumeirah, and across the multilevel space enjoys an enviable position with stunning views of the Burj Al-Arab and beyond, as well as an atmospheric Arabesque setting.
Offsetting that traditionalist context, the restaurant and lounge offers a smart, modern vibe with warm woods, exposed brick walls, funky light fixtures and bistro-style seating. An open kitchen pass offers a window into the back-end workings and all the culinary entertainment a diner needs, adding to the lively ambience.
But Insta-worthy as it is, the setting is probably not the reason Folly seems to have swept the awards season this year. It is the food. Some restaurants draw you in with elaborate menus, detailing each dish to make it sound appetizing (in some cases, making them sound tastier than they actually are). In Folly, it is the exact opposite.
The menu, divided into three sections of varying portion sizes rather than the traditional starter/main course distinctions, downplays the dishes by only listing the main ingredients used. It may not do justice to the level of intricacy displayed in every dish, but the often-intriguing combinations tantalize just enough to make you want to order one of each.
While the menu is designed to offer diners the flexibility to build their meal according to what they want, from light tapas bites with drinks to a full-on degustation, we opted for a three-course (ish) meal, aided by recommendations from the staff.
There is really not much we could fault with our dinner, but highlights included the small plate of monkfish cheeks with paprika and salted lemon, which basically translates to a tart crème fraiche-like accompaniment, offering the perfect offset to the subtle sweetness of the fish.
A Butterhead lettuce mousse with mustard was a delicious study in how a bit of creativity can elevate what is usually a humble, overlooked ingredient into haute cuisine, as does the crispy hen’s egg with morels.
But the standout dish was the straciatella (a mild creamy cheese), the little spires of which needed little else but the complement of sweet baby tomatoes and the drizzle of a light balsamic dressing to make for a moreish starter.
Among the larger plates or mains, the lemon sole with sprouts and mint was a refreshingly herbaceous dish, while the roasted guinea fowl with stuffing, served with shredded cabbage and fondant potatoes — this could well become the perfect festive meal for the season — is excellent, if a touch over-seasoned in our case.
Dessert offerings continue the pattern of giving familiar dishes and ingredients an inventive twist. So the well-loved meringue, cream and berries concoction that is Eton Mess is updated with a basil meringue and fresh basil; while cheesecake pairs unexpectedly, but deliciously, with apple ice cream.
Both chefs are extremely hands-on in the kitchen, which means the menu regularly gets updated with quirky new combinations that they have conjured up. This, and the pared back, fuss-free yet undeniably gourmet experience that Folly offers, put it on par with some of the trendiest restaurants around the world, and a must-visit in Dubai.


Storm in a teacup as Dhaka gets taste for ‘rainbow’ tea

A tea lover tastes the ‘rainbow seven color tea.’ (AN photo by Shehab Sumon)
Updated 19 January 2019
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Storm in a teacup as Dhaka gets taste for ‘rainbow’ tea

  • Nutrition experts suggest that spices or food colors must be used to create the tea’s rainbow effect
  • In 2006, Gour opened a tea shop selling five-layered, multicolor tea. The tea proved popular, with people traveling from Dhaka to sample the unique offering

DHAKA: The flavors and traditions associated with tea drinking are well established with a history going back centuries. Now a unique “rainbow tea” developed in Bangladesh looks like it is stirring up a revolution in tea-lovers’ tastes.
The tea, which offers seven distinct layers of color and flavor in each cup, has become the talk of Dhaka.
Rainbow tea was developed by Saiful Islam, 32, a tea vendor from Sreemangal, near Sylhet, about 175 km northeast of the capital.
According to Islam, the tea-producing region where he was born was the inspiration for his new type of tea.
“Since my childhood, I admired the surroundings where tea was produced and then sent to every corner of the country as well as abroad,” he said.
Islam said that after finishing his education, “I was in a fix about what to do. My passion for producing a better tea with better taste grew stronger as the days went by. I was experimenting with different kinds of tea and, finally, I hit the jackpot and realized my dream. I invented the rainbow seven-color tea.”
However, the idea of tea with multicolored layers is far from new in Sreemangal. Romesh Ram Gour, another tea vendor and a neighbor of Islam, had previously developed a five-layered tea.
In 2006, Gour opened a tea shop selling five-layered, multicolor tea. The tea proved popular, with people traveling from Dhaka to sample the unique offering.
Inspired by Gour’s multicolored tea, a young Islam came up with his “rainbow seven-color tea” and opened a shop Sreemangal.
Due to growing demand, after one year he relocated his parlor to Dhaka’s Khilgaon Taltola market. Since launching in the capital, Islam’s rainbow tea has continued to grow in popularity, with the city’s tea-lovers happily paying $1 a cup for a rare drinking experience.
Now, the rainbow tea is adding to Khilgaon Taltola market’s appeal as people of all ages and walks of life visit the tea shop.
“It’s a unique experience to have different tastes with one cup of tea. I have never tasted anything like this,” said Shyamoli Islam Shuverthy, a Dhaka resident.
“I have heard of this rainbow tea many times, but today I finally had the chance to taste it and I’m really excited.”
Arifur Rahman, another tea-lover, told Arab News: “This tea perks me up with its unique flavor. I try to enjoy this tea whenever I meet my friends.”
Islam is determined to keep the recipe for his rainbow tea a secret. In the shop, he prepares the tea in a corner hidden behind a dark screen to avoid prying eyes.
“I use black tea, green tea, coffee, milk, orange and strawberry. But the method is a trade secret,” he told Arab News while working in his stall at Dhaka International Trade Fair.
Nutrition experts suggest that spices or food colors must be used to create the tea’s rainbow effect.
“However, these are not harmful to people,” Abdullah Al-Mamun, of Noakhali University, said.
With his new brand of tea, Islam, the father of two daughters, earns around $600 per month.
With demand growing at home and abroad, Islam is planning to expand his business. Two new outlets at Narayangonj and Gazipur, on the outskirts of Dhaka, are due to open later this year.
One of Islam’s friends, who lives in Canberra, Australia, also hopes to launch the rainbow tea there.
“I hope my ‘rainbow seven-color tea’ can win the hearts of people on every continent,” Islam said.