the lighthouse in dubai design district is our new fave spot

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The Lighthouse is a concept store with a curated selection of design and food. The menu, with its Mediterranean flare and bespoke wine and beer collection, was created by renowned chef, Izu Ani, whom as every fine dining aficionado in Dubai could tell you is the man behind Parisian-style café La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie and La Petite Maison Dubai.

The restaurant itself is a minimalistic space where there’ll be a bit of everything happening, from exhibitions, to wine tasting and a handpicked selection of gifting merchandise including glassware, serveware, as well as books and papeterie by international and regional designers.

The short menu is modest and fills a void in Dubai’s restaurant scene. We begin with the mezze platter which includes three or six small plates to share. The prawns are delicious – marinated in garlic and rosemary. The lamb kofta is authentic in a spicy tomato emulsion, and the highly garnished and texture-filled baked feta is wonderfully topped with oregano, paprika, Turkish chilli and served with warm pita bread.

A goat cheese and cherry tomato salad has a hearty presentation – red succulent cherry tomatoes are coated with goat cheese which is covered with a crispy hazelnut and sesame crust and served just-baked out of the oven with a generous sprinkle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and croutons.

The mezze platter and goat cheese salad was accompanied by the Lighthouse Mediterranean Cheese Selection – a taste of home for us that is traditional and customary in every Balkan and Mediterranean household. The selection includes goat cheese and cherry tomato salad; a hard, slow-ripened, semi-fat cheese – very similar to Croatian Paski sir; a semi-hard, slightly sweet cheese (resembling Croatian Planinski sir); and a curd white cheese garnished with chilli. We would recommend pairing this with the Vina Cobos Felino Malbec 2015 of the central Argentinian region – a lightly sweet and smooth red wine with flowery aromas – which complements all the dishes beautifully.

The main dish follows with Sliced Beef – a huge sharing portion (and we’re not exaggerating) of beef served in a large deep-skillet based in a mustard dressing, on a bed of mushrooms and root vegetables and poached cherry tomatoes. The richness and simplicity of this dish is heart-warming. The spices infused are subtle, allowing the meat and vegetables’ natural flavours to shine through.

In regard to our dining mannerisms, dessert is no small affair: the Lighthouse Apple and Olive Oil Cake is a unique and delicious offering. Essentially, it is a muffin laced with olive oil and is accompanied by fresh fruit compote and homemade malt ice cream.

Our second dessert, the chocolate hazelnut tart, is rich and decadent with a sweet crumble base, and soft and warm inside. Salted caramel decorates the plate with blanched almond flakes – heavenly.

Sent to our table is a complimentary dessert – a classic glazed donut. Served along with it are vanilla ice cream, blanched almond slivers, and a caramel finish. This sickly sweet confection is not recommended to eat after a meal, however, apace with a Caffe Latte is better suited.

Looking out across the dining space, the waiters are over-run; there’s simply not enough staff to keep up with the busy service, so at times is a little slow. As the lunch hour comes to an end, the same amount of people who were flooding earlier in are leaving. The livened room becomes much more calm and relaxed, and this is evident with the waiters who are visibly more at ease. Overall, the location, atmosphere and value for money are key attributes to this being one of the best experiences we’ve had in Dubai’s dine-out scene. You can definitely expect us to become regulars at Dubai Design Districts’ The Lighthouse.

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