CEO Middle East
CEO enjoys a power pow-wow at this perennially popular restaurant that has stayed busy despite coronavirus
One of the industries hit particularly hard during Covid-19 has been the restaurant industry, with a lack of clientele for several months forcing many businesses to close their doors permanently. Ralph Homer, owner of Lincoln Hospitality and La Serre restaurant, swiftly identified that his restaurant consultancy business could best serve the needs of the local community by pivoting to advising struggling businesses on the ins and outs of survival.
This nimble, creative approach has also translated into a rare lockdown success story: La Serre is at capacity on popular evenings and enjoys a brisk, reliable trade thanks to its menu, which is always on point, yet served up with a laid-back and casual vibe that makes dining here feel just the kind of relaxed that we all need and want more of in 2020. It’s the perfect blend of respectful yet down to earth, warm and friendly enough to make it feel like you are popping back in to your neighbourhood eatery whether downstairs in the bistro café for that perfectly brewed morning coffee (the heavenly cookie that comes with it is worth the trip alone!) or making your way upstairs to the restaurant proper, where socially distanced tables clad in white linen still somehow manage to feel intimate, elegant and vibrant.
Meanwhile, a gentle facelift has kept the décor fresh and relevant, while the menu and wine list has been upgraded too. In a town notoriously fickle for its ever-changing search of the new, to maintain a restaurant and thrive even through lockdown is no mean feat.
The menu, Executive Chef Brian Voelzing, tells CEO, expresses quality through its ingredients.
“We are driven by quality, whether top-grade ingredients or thorough training of staff, and strive to present this to our guests through attention to detail.We express quality through the ingredients we use in the kitchen, the crockery and cutlery, our staff and every detail – every small touch makes a difference.”
The dishes we tried during our visit each seemed to represent the ideal archetype of its category. We started with a signature burrata, drizzled with transcendent, verdant olive oil, and a raw tuna dish whose lightness and freshness was as you might expect at the most exalted Japanese sushi spots in the city. Here, this formidable standard of food is placed on your table with a smile that belies its towering achievements – and I think that’s why I love La Serre so much. Turn up in a suit, or turn up in your athleisurewear. It’s all good.
The lobster linguine merits its own honrary mention and is a dish I would return to eat time and time again. The memory of strands of pasta enrobed in a rich, comforting tomato sauce and perfect morsels of lobster make my mouth water even now, just thinking about it.
“We like our guests to feel excited and comfortable when they dine with us,” notes Chef Brian. “Our focus is about creating a great experience. We want our guests to be relaxed and enjoy their meal rather than feeling uptight. We build relationships with our guests and many return not only for the food but to see their favourite server or bartender.”
We say cheers to that.
IT USED TO BE SOMETHING OF A CULINARY INSTITUTION, BUT WITH THE SAFETY MEASURES REQUIRED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS, THE PILE-IT-HIGH SELF-SERVE BUFFET BRUNCH HAS BEEN REIMAGINED IN 2020. HERE IS CEO’S PICK OF DELICIOUS BRUNCHES THAT DELIVER ON FLAVOUR AND AMBIENCE WHILE RESPECTING SOCIAL DISTANCING PRECAUTIONS
The multi award-winning Dubai dining institution that is Traiteur is an extravagant celebration of exquisite cuisine, mesmerizing views and lively ambience. Escape from the bustling city into the relaxing atmosphere of the waterfront terrace, overlooking the Dubai Creek and skyline and feel instantly transported into a Mediterranean fantasty. Enjoy premium sliced meat, charcuterie and terrines as well as an extensive selection of cheeses. Fresh fruits de mer can also be savoured, courtesy of unlimited lobster, shrimp, salmon and caviar from the seafood buffet Fridays
Park Hyatt Dubai, Brasserie du Park 1pm – 4.30pm, Friday
Soft drinks sparkling AED695; Champagne Premium Champagne
Roberto’s, the perennially popular Italian eatery in DIFC has a Saturday Brunch. The Bacchus Brunch takes place every Saturday and will serve up a delectable assortment of Italian cuisine at this DIFC favourite. Roberto’s contemporary yet traditional approach to Italian gastronomy is a uniquely home-grown concept, combining European luxury with avantgarde cuisine.
Gate Village, Building No. 1, DIFC 1pm – 5pm. Saturday
Soft drinks house drinks package,
1pm – 4pm Friday Soft drinks, make it bubbles, house drinks:
BACK IN 2016, I WAS EXCITED FOR THE BAHRAIN WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM TO COMPETE IN THE APHRODITE CUP,
a tournament held in Cyprus. Bahrain’s team, of which I was in charge, had previously participated in an earlier edition. The competition would have offered great exposure for Arab women’s football by giving them an opportunity to play against European teams. Unfortunately, that excitement was short-lived when it fell on me to ultimately decline the invitation when it became clear that Israel would be fielding a team this time around.
The decision to pull out was taken jointly between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite organiser efforts to accommodate us by making suggestions to ensure the teams played in separate groups and stayed in different hotels. Such was the tension between the Arab states and Israel that participation in the same tournament was not even an option.
Now, in a historic move, Bahrain and the UAE have signed peace accords with Israel.
For the Gulf, a region that has traditionally refused to recognise the existence of the Jewish state, the news has generated mixed reactions among experts and public. However, with more Arab countries expected to follow suit and take diplomatic steps to normalise relations, sport can help the transition and strengthen ties.
Sport has long been used as a tool for nurturing international relations. An example is pingpong diplomacy, which softened relations between the United States and China during the Cold War with the aid of table tennis. There is now an opportunity for sport to play a similar role when it comes to the newly formed Arabevents
Israeli agreements. Today, Bahrain and Israel could participate together in the Aphrodite Cup, but marketing such an endeavour would require an effective strategy to emphasise the positives and dispel criticism.
The Gulf region has hosted many sporting events in recent years where teams from different countries participate at the youth and national levels. One way to reinforce ties with Israel could be by inviting Israeli teams and delegations to such events. In fact, the three football associations of Bahrain, Israel and the UAE have already begun marketing such an idea on their social media with a shared post displaying the countries’ football emblems under a banner that reads, “Football can unite us. Let’s play!”
Sporting events can also be used as a platform for brand promotion. Much in the same way as we see adverts for companies around the pitch in the Premier League, as well as shirt sponsorship, there is an opportunity for recognised Gulf brands
(for example, Emirates) to enter the Israeli market through sport and vice versa. It may seem surprising initially to see Visit Israel advertisements at a Gulf-based sporting event, but over time this could become the norm and as trade relations improve, businesses will be less hesitant to get involved in Arab-Israeli marketing.
Sporting events can also be used to educate visiting delegations about host countries and build positive experiences on the sidelines of competitions. Another strategy that could be used as an alternative to hosting entire team
would be to implement a coach and player exchange program in a similar way to the one the US uses in its sport diplomacy programs. Exchange programs are a great way to widen the network of athletes and coaching staff in a country and allow them to broaden their horizons through learning from international experts.
Inter-community programs aimed at integrating the young people of Israel and the Gulf states could also take place in third locations such as the US. Such programs could be used to bridge cultural and religious differences through the commonality of sport to build social bonds and linkages. Unlike coaches’ exchanges, the focus of this type of program would be on youth and community as opposed to the professional athletes and their coaching staff. They would include sporting events and team-building activities as well as skill development and leisure activities away from sport.
The historic announcement between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE offers an important opportunity to strengthen relations and bring the Middle Eastern states together. While sport may not offer the ultimate solution to solve the Middle East conflicts, it offers a complementary tool to develop ties between communities that have been separated by years of hostility. It could help them to come together towards a new era of peace.
Shaikha Hussa bint Khalid Al
Khalifa is a PhD researcher in Sport for Development and Peace Initiatives, Loughborough University