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.


Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

Nada Kutbi started baking from home for family and friends before setting up her Sucre De Nada pastry shop to expand her home business. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2019
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Saudi home-bakers cooking up sweet business on internet

  • Thanks to social media, business is booming for Jeddah’s cake and pastry makers

JEDDAH: Enterprising Saudi home-bakers have been turning to social media to help cook up some sweet business success.
The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, and none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.
Her Sucre De Nada pastry shop in Jeddah has become one of the go-to places for homemade desserts and cakes, and the online side of her business is also booming.
Kutbi’s daughter, Nassiba Khashoggi, told Arab News: “She has basically been baking all her life, especially after having children. She used to make cookies for us and whenever she tried a dessert somewhere else, she would recreate it.
“In restaurants or gatherings, she would always analyze sweets and make them at home for her family. That was how she started baking.
“I don’t think she ever thought she could pursue it as a career, but everyone loved her baking and one of her closest friends encouraged her to start her business when she was a stay-at-home mom.
“It was in 2011-2012, and her friend basically forced her to start by telling her, ‘yallah! make a cake and I will buy it from you now.’”
Khashoggi added: “In the beginning we just went by word of mouth, but when Instagram came along, we made an account and started posting pictures and the customers loved her creativity and uniqueness. I don’t think many people knew what banoffee was before my mom promoted it.”
Although Kutbi’s unique takes and touches went down a treat with customers, it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.
But stepping up from running a home business presented new challenges. “When you are running a home business there are few staff and it is easy to control,” said Khashoggi. But expanding requires you to put more trust in other people and that was difficult for my mom. Also, when we increased the number of our products it became harder to maintain the quality of goods.”
Kutbi aims to avoid storing, pre-baking or freezing her products and is not a fan of mass production and blast freezing, according to her daughter. “In short, she is against commercial baking,” said Khashoggi. “What is unique about my mom is that everything she makes is made the same day from scratch. It makes it harder for her to redo everything but that’s what makes her special.”

HIGHLIGHtS

• The Kingdom’s food producers are proving to be some of the rising stars of the internet, none more so than 53-year-old mom Nada Kutbi.

• Kutbi’s unique takes and touches have been a hit with customer, but it was not until Ramadan last year that she officially opened her bakery in Jeddah.

Sometimes customers even send pictures or pieces of dessert to Kutbi asking her to recreate their favorite foods.
Another Jeddah-based bakery thriving on the internet is Ganache. Run by Anas Khashoggi, 58, and Jamila Ali Islam, 48, the pastry business has been operating for almost 20 years.
Khashoggi supported his wife after spotting her talent for baking and took a leap of faith by giving up his job and starting an online bakery.
“At that time, there was no social media, but we made an introductory website, which helped us gain popularity,” he said. That was in 1996, and the couple’s first store opened later the same year.
“Ganache has its own unique spirit as a family business, and it is run by Saudi youth who are managing the bakery and understand the Saudi market. The family committee is the one that approves the products,” added Khashoggi.