Mint Leaf of London new menu - DIFC, Dubai

The last time I visited Mint Leaf of London in Dubai was during Ramadan when I tried out their Iftar menu in July 2014. It was the concept of the bar-lounge-restaurant that really made an impression, in addition to the food of course. You can read that review here:

On this ocassion, I was thrilled to be trying the new menu, just launched. At the end of a night that saw me driving back to Abu Dhabi at 22h30, I came up with a few reasons why this is an outstanding way to spend the evening. This says a lot if you consider the myriad of options in Dubai.

1. Still in love with the concept
When Mint Leaf opened, it generated a lot of buzz because of its concept. Granted, it was not ground breaking, but it was noteworthy because its centred around Indian cuisine. But more than that, it actually works. On this visit I saw people at the bar or in the lounge who were not there for dining, while I also witnessed people who transitioned from the bar to the dining area. This tells me that people are getting the idea. I like that effortless flow from one space to another.

The lounge
On my arrival, I was greeted by the hostess just as I exited the elevator. Precision. She asked me if I wanted to start the evening with an aperitif. Elegant, intelligent, well spoken and engaging - qualities I look for in a hostess. Because I was driving, I chose one of the the signature mocktails from the Driver's choice - an aptly named Nojito, consisting of fresh mint, fresh lime juice, apple juice, cane sugar and for a bit of fizz, seltzer. Sally's hand-over, if you will, to Louise in the bar, was smooth. The smooth motif rums throughout.

2. Stylish venue
Mint Leaf is absolutely stunning. Think of all the clich├ęs that you would use to describe  a classy establishment, and you have Mint Leaf: perfect low lighting that screams cool and chic. In a city where more is more is the order of the day, I am pleased to see the opposite here. Don't get me wrong, it is luxurious, but not gaudy. Floor to ceiling windows all round, whether you are in the lounge or the dining area, ensure that the transition I mentioned earlier, is a  very natural one. A quote from my review in July last year: The lounge too is now rich in ambience. I move to the bar, passing some private and semi private lounging areas,  and am greeted by two mixologists on duty. Cool, carefree and 20 something - symbolic. The wooden ceilings, if there is any doubt about where you are, have mint leaf designs protruding as you look up. Tasteful. Stylish. Finally, I am seated and I have views of the tall icon of the UAE and also the glittering lights of the Sheikh Zayed Road;  a city- boy's dream. I am beside myself. Enough said. 

Private dining room

The menu and my dishes

The open kitchen allows one to watch Chef de cuisine Vivek Kashiwale and his team create their dishes. Theatre. A spectacle. Chef allows me to sample a few starters, something I appreciate. Mint Leaf, while having an exceptional menu that offers a selection of traditional Indian dishes with a twist that is both contemporary but also respectful of the past, is also about personalising one's dining experience. If you asked what trend in dining I would like to see more and more, it would be this. Diners are becoming more and more interested in the next  new thing. I call it flexibility and engagement by chefs. 
Selection of starters

My platter of starters consists of Bharwan Aloo Dilkhush, Paneer Tikka Shashlik, Beetroot Pudina Tikki , Tandoori Duck Kebab  and Adraki Lamb Chops. Of course in going for a selection of starters, I am sacrificing presentation, but then  I am benefiting from really seeing Chef's range. I am not disappointed. Standout items for me are the duck, with its density of texture. Also, the lamb is just perfect. New Zealand lamb is inherently tender, and chef's use of the tandoori is such that it is not over done while rich in flavour. The paneer. Oh the paneer. That crispy surface balanced by the tender inside is memorable. Finally, my favourite from my first visit, the Beet root pudina tikki, with its salty, sour and mildly sweet elements, just combine beautifully. 

Scallops Moilee

For my main I order the Scallop Moilee and Rara Gosht (Australian Leg of Lamb in sauce). My recommendation is with out doubt the scallops. It succeeds on two fronts. As I cut into it, I can see how well it is cooked. Perfect moisture. Then there is that coconut sauce that is pure delight. It served with my request of naan. That sauce, again, is flavourful. I cannot resist but to lap up that sauce with the naan. My dish of the day. 

One of the things I love about the menu is the recommended pairings with selected dishes. Because Indian cuisine and wine are new to many diners including this writer, it takes the pressure off as to which wine to order that will work best. Clever. 

View from the terrace while sipping on my tea.
My evening ends on the terrace where I enjoy a pot of masala chai. Time for relection. Under the guidance of Chef Vivek the new menu excites as does the venue as a whole. Mint Leaf of London in Dubai will amaze first time visitors who are still stuck in their dated perceptions of what Indian dining is, but will also assure returning guests that the restaurant has consolidated the memorable debut it made a short while ago. Dubai is quite a tough place fort restaurants with intense competition. After this, my second visit, Mint Leaf has nothing to be concerned about. It just seems to offer so much than its competitors.
 The essentials

Mint Leaf of London, Dubai
15th floor of the Emirates Financial Towers, South Tower, DIFC
+971 4 706 0900