DUBAI: Cookies with ice-cream is the dessert you never thought you needed.
Walking into North Audley Cantine (NAC), we were greeted by a friendly host who — very sweetly and sympathetically — told us that there were no tables available at that time.
“We get booked up very quickly, but we have one reservation left for 10:30 this evening,” he said. It was just turning 7 p.m.
Rather than give up and walk away, we took the slot. As we waited, we went to Oxford Street, which is a five-minute walk from the venue, telling ourselves that we’d just waste a couple of hours in Selfridges.
You see, NAC has amassed quite the following of resident foodies, cool hunters, and tourists. As its consistently excellent service ratings suggest, it’s definitely one of the top eateries to sample in Central London. I first came across it when I was invited for a coffee meeting.
Stylish yet extremely laidback and unpretentious, the Mayfair-based establishment, billed as a French bistro, exudes contemporary chic, with beautiful whites, gold and pinks complementing the brown leather banquettes and high seats.
After my first experience, I knew I had to return to sample the menu. So here we are, months later, fast approaching 10:30 p.m.
And it did not disappoint.
One of the standouts of the establishment on both occasions I have visited was the extremely welcoming and friendly service, which was consistent throughout the meal. NAC offers separate lunch and dinner menus — featuring starters, salads, mains, sides and more — but items do cross over, and quite frankly, these are the ones to look out for.
Out of the starters, the winner was the halloumi fries with honey sriracha. Crispy on the outside with a delicious soft centre, these fries are like tucking into a fine grilled cheese sandwich without the bread.
While the menu boasts some lovely mains, including the truffle burger with Monterrey Jack cheese and truffle mayo, we opted for a selection of smaller plates instead. And the most surprising dish came in the form of one of the side options.
How the truffled mac and cheese is a supporting act, we’ll never know. This glorious side dish — which, FYI, is quite a large portion, so you could share — is a heavenly gooey combo of rigatoni with flavourful truffle-infused cheese. This is the comfort food to end all comfort food; the carb-filled dish that’s worth putting your keto diet on pause for.
And since you’re on pause, then make room for dessert. NAC’s showstopper may consist of basic childhood faves put together, but for some reason it works. And it works well. On the menu, it’s listed as crushed milk-chocolate cookies with Frosties and soft serve ice-cream, and that’s exactly what you get: Warm, soft, chewy chocolate-chip cookies, topped with truck-style ice-cream and Frosties cereal. It’s absolutely delightful.
Other desserts include ricotta pancakes with dulce de leche and banana, which we would happily have for breakfast. Another dessert that totally should be served first thing in the morning is the honey French toast with raspberries, clotted cream, and speculoos (you know Lotus biscuits? Well, speculoos is a spread made of it — one of the greatest food inventions of our time). For the health-conscious, choices include an açai bowl or matcha chia seed, granola, and fresh berries combo.
But we’ll say it again, if you visit NAC and forget to order the crushed cookies, you’re definitely missing out. Here’s hoping they never discontinue it.