Carnival by Tresind
You could occasionally be forgiven for thinking that in Dubai the party never stops. Whether it’s the steady stream of concerts, club nights, award ceremonies or even just the crowds out and about on a weekend evening, if it weren’t for the desolate Friday mornings, this town may just have the credentials to lay claim to New York’s second most famous moniker: ‘ the city that never sleeps’.
It is this atmosphere that the new, quirky, yet distinctly Dubai chic, Indian restaurant Carnival by Tresind at the Burj Daman, DIFC, wishes to harness. And from the first step into the artistic forest cum Wonka’s chocolate factory cum Canary Wharf bistro, one gets the feeling they have succeeded. Greeted with a warm welcome, diners are led to their seats where they are then treated to an individual “bubble bath”. Don’t panic, bathing suits are not necessary. The experience consists of the server filling the air above the table with bubbles from a machine. Such a bizarre introduction anywhere else may appear out of place, but here, feeding into the restaurant’s ethos, not one person in the always- packed dining room will bat an eyelid.
So, fully cleansed, it was time to embark on the highly anticipated culinary journey. Carnival’s sister outlet, Tresind, is already a firm favourite. Perhaps a little more formal than the establishment before us, its experimental molecular gastronomy menu set loose on Dubai a couple of years ago was, in our opinion, a game changer. Until then, Dubai had done conventional Indian fare particularly well; yet, at Tresind, the mélange of culturally significant ingredients from around the world, different takes on classic dishes and, yes, liquid nitrogen in some of the recipes, provided the shot in the arm this city’s food scene required.
Carnival obviously welcomes Tresind’s methods although it injects its meals with touch of joviality. Dishes with titles including ‘ Thai Tanic’ ( a Thai chicken bhurjee with sweet basil and lime pav), ‘ Don’t Be Shellfish’ ( spider crab leg, tomato pickle cream and crispy lotus stem) or ‘ Buck Off’ ( eight hours cooked venison in red chilli curry) are just a few examples of what we’re talking about.
Handed a tasting menu, we had the opportunity to sample a smorgasbord of what’s on offer. Spoiler alert: everything served ranged from good to utterly superb.
To avoid a lengthy discussion on the merits of each item ( there is not sufficient room on these pages), here are the highlights. To kick off is the very first course on the carte — ‘ Life Is Short, Eat Dessert First’. This sweet jalebi chaat with a yoghurt mousse, potato and chickpeas is an innovative manipulation of regular chaat. Its thick, saccharine consistency is not overpowering as a result of the manageable portion size. Another entrée that tickled the palate was the dal phulka. Again, in essence, this is dal. Except here, it is served as a mock cappuccino in a miniature coffee cup, a tiny phulka cookie made with truffle ghee and cumin cocoa resting on the saucer. We were more into the presentation of this one, though the flavour lived up to the expectation.
For the mains, a portion of the aforementioned Buck Off ( some of the most tender meat sampled to date), and the piece de resistance, Airline Chicken. Arriving on a wooden tray in the style of an in- flight meal, the tandoori chicken curry served with a small croissant was a complete triumph. It completely epitomised Carnival. It was outlandish, fun and, above all, delicious.