Cat­alo­nian soul


Virtuozity - - Society -

WHILE HIGH-END RESTAU­RANTS are two-apenny down at Dubai In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Cen­tre’s Gate Vil­lage, few dare to of­fer such play­ful and ex­per­i­men­tal dishes as those served at La Laz, the new Cat­alo­nian eatery from ac­claimed chef Alain De­vahive.

The Barcelona-born chef honed his craft with a num­ber of po­si­tions in Miche­lin­starred restau­rants through­out Spain and France. But in the con­text of La Luz, the ex­pe­ri­ence he gained was the decade spent work­ing in the kitchens of world-fa­mous, three Miche­lin-starred el­bulli. Cer­tainly el­bulli pro­vides much of the in­flu­ence for the menu at La Laz, which serves unique takes on Cat­alo­nian clas­sics.

The in­te­rior of the res­tau­rant, how­ever, is rel­a­tively unas­sum­ing. It may well have been crafted from gold ma­te­ri­als, nat­u­ral stone and or­ganic or­na­men­ta­tion, but the sub­dued colours cre­ate some­thing of a for­get­table at­mos­phere. There’s an open­plan kitchen, and an ex­tremely cosy bar area where fab­u­lous ci­gar nights are held, but on first im­pres­sions, you’d be for­given that this was more of a run-of-the-mill, all­day ho­tel res­tau­rant.

Hap­pily, that at­mos­phere is jux­ta­posed bril­liantly against an ec­cen­tric menu brim­ming with in­ven­tive­ness and ex­cite­ment. The sig­na­ture dishes, in­clud­ing to­mato tar­tar with aro­mat­ics, beef carpac­cio with foie gras and truf­fle vinai­grette, and king crab salad with mush­rooms, ap­ple and creamy vinai­grette, are pure Barcelona luxe, cre­at­ing clas­si­cal Cat­alo­nian flavours out of in­gre­di­ents one wouldn’t nor­mally as­so­ciate with the area.

That said, there are well-known favourites that often find their way onto Barcelon­abased restau­rants’ menus. But this is no crit­i­cism. That La Luz han­dles such dishes as the truf­fle ‘bikini’ with moz­zarella and smoked cecina with such skill—cre­at­ing a high-end tapa out of what is a sim­ple dish—is cer­tainly wel­come. The beef and po­tato ‘bom­bas’ from Barcelona are not to be missed, ei­ther—each bite trans­ports the diner from Dubai to the cool, non­cha­lant streets of the Cat­alo­nian cap­i­tal.

La Luz is much more than a homage to Barcelo­nian cui­sine, how­ever—some of De­vahive’s cre­ations are down­right out-there, but still evoke that sense of culi­nary ad­ven­ture that the area is so well known for. The lob­ster and av­o­cado rolls with caviar are a per­fect ex­am­ple of this, com­ing wrapped like a large maki roll but tast­ing like a Euro­pean clas­sic. Else­where, the clas­sic cer­viche, an homage to Peru, is per­fect for those who yearn for sharp, re­fresh­ing starters.

In­deed, De­vahive seems to have a way with seafood, with many of La Luz’s best dishes bear­ing an ‘S’ next to their names on the menu. For ex­am­ple, the Gali­cian oc­to­pus grilled with po­tato foam and smoked pa­prika will have even the most ar­dent sea food snob’s mouth wa­ter­ing. Else­where, the Mediter­ranean prawn black rice, while strong for some tastes, is a bold take on the flavours af­forded by sea-based in­gre­di­ents.

Af­ter din­ner, take the time to en­joy a ci­gar in the bar area, and ask for som­me­lier Krys­tian Horde­juk, the UAE Ha­banos Som­me­lier Cham­pion, who cre­ates in­ven­tive cock­tails be­fit­ting the play­ful­ness of the menu and can rec­om­mend the ideal ci­gars to go along with them.

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