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

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.

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 17 September 2019

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.