Zuma Dubai

Trendy, trendy, trendy! Many are the restaurants where “to see and be seen” are the motto, few or none are able to keep the high standards of Zuma – there are more than 10 restaurants across the world, thousands of clients, thousands of dishes and an always high standard.

Zuma Dubai is the standard-bearer of the group, founded in 2002 by Reiner Becker and Arjun Waney, so we couldn’t miss a visit on our first trip to Dubai. An accomplishment no one can take away from Zuma is being the most celebrated restaurant in Dubai, and that’s huge! Even more in a city where everything happens and new high-quality restaurants open all the time.

Getting a table is not easy, but a good concierge is the half away through and they were able to fit us on the first lunch hour! We arrived 5min before the opening and could see at a distance the entire team’s briefing, a mix of demand with a motivation and energy session, quickly each element went to their position and we were quickly accompanied to our table.

The space is divided into different floors and lives of natural light and a cosmopolitan decoration where comfort is king and long balconies, where we can follow their work, both at the robata and the sushi bar.

Comfortably seated and flawlessly served, we started by the cocktails as mandatory, being the bar one of the strengths of the restaurant.

Rikka tonic

 Hamachi usuzukuri, ponzu and truffle oil 
The most famous dish at Zuma, and the most copied one – thin slices of Hamachi covered with a ponzu sauce, prepared with truffle oil. Opposite from what we usually taste in the “copies” the false aroma of the oil is not overpowering, letting the fish shine and the freshness of ponzu gives it a bit more complexity.

Scallops, Umeboshi and mentaiko
Hokkaido scallops, prepared on the Robata, served on point with a bit of umeboshi and mentaiko roe. Tasty and delicate!

Chicken Karaage
Boneless chicken tights, breaded and fried with a slightly spicy sauce. A nice snack, from the texture to the succulence and the flavor. Addictive!


Geshi smash

Sashimi
Different fish slices, with highlight to the presentation and the quality of the tuna. Nicely sliced fish, but not surprising.

Nigiri premium
A selection of the best nigiri created at the restaurant, with highlight to the tuna toro with sea urchin, the prawn with summer truffle, the eel, and of course, the fresh wasabi, and real, that for those who never tasted it before makes all the difference! Perfectly cooked rice and nicely sliced fish.

More cocktails – I didn’t even want them! 

Passionfruit souffle, Sesame ice cream 
Masterfully prepared souffle, with a hot and creamy filling, contrasting really well with the temperature and taste of the ice cream. A delicate and delicious ending!

The service was perfect, from the recommendations to the mise en scène, everything went by quickly and with a contagious good mood, especially if you take into account the number of guests they serve daily.

Final Remarks
Zuma is, for more than 10 years now, the busiest restaurant in Dubai, becoming almost like a ritual for the expacts that go there. Being trendy and hype is something relatively easy to accomplish these days, you need good taste and money to invest, the hard part is getting all this with the resource to good quality products, above-average consistency, both in the service and the food.

It’s far from being unforgettable, or a unique experience for experienced guests, especially taking the prices into account, however, the entire experience is high level and it’s a mandatory visit for those going to Dubai.

Zuma Dubai
Prices from 50€ – Lunch Menu (without wines)
Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue Ground Floor nº203
+971 4 32 00 477

Portuguese Version

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Leonardo

Seeing a restaurant inside a museum is something we are all used to, but if, suddenly, the idea was to put a museum inside a restaurant? So thought the minds behind the Egyptian group Stella di Mare, when deciding the theme for their first restaurant in Dubai.

And the theme for the museum? Who other than Leonardo da Vinci, as the name states right away, Leonardo!

Located in the incredible Dubai Marina, with direct entrance from the street, we are just a short elevator trip from the grand dining room, of nicely worked details, warm and romantic ambiance and full of different da Vincci works.

Warmly welcomed, with several Italians in the team. The trip to the table is not easy, because we can’t take our eyes away from all the replicas of the Renaissance master. You know about our love for the Renaissance, right?

 Comfortably seated, everything is pristine, from the chairs to the towel, glasses and the funny position of the napkins. In the meantime, a great variety of bread quickly arrives at the table.

Basket with different slices of bread, with highlight to the great Foccacia and the amuse bouche – a delicious lamb Agnolotti with mushroom sauce

Salmon, tuna sauce and coriander powder 
A version of the Vitello Tonnato where the meat is replaced by a mi-cuit of cold salmon – I don’t know if that was the intention, but in my opinion, warm would be more interesting! Nice combo with the sauce and the salty notes of the capers.

Zucchini sformatino, fresh tomato soup
A good version of a classic, making me travel for a moment to the hands of Fabio Picci, the Florentine master at Cibrèo. Excellent texture and a simple and delicate flavor!

Cacio e Pepe
One of my favorite Roman classics, Cacio & Pepe, that lives of the mix of cheese and pepper, as the name indicates. In this version, accompanied by two crunchy bacon slices. Good spaghettoni, perfectly cooked, while the flavor was somewhat amiss, lacking more pepper and a creamier sauce with the pasta.

Hare Tortelli, cannellini bean cream and rosemary sauce 
Super high level, with the pasta on point and the right amount of filling to the portion of pasta. Nicely connected with the cream and the aromatic sauce. A beautiful dish!

Duck Magret, sprouts, mango, and grapefruit sauce
Nicely pink duck, as it should, tender and tasty, and weirdly going very well with the mango sauce, mostly because of the less sweet link of the grapefruit with the bitterness of the sprouts. A good dish.

Coffee Slush, chocolate mousse, vanilla cream, and crunchy rice and Hazelnut Semifreddo with vanilla cream 
Positive notes to the desserts as well, with highlight to the nice combination of textures and flavors of the coffee and chocolate dessert, as well as the dried fruit and seeds crisp, accompanying the well-accomplished semifreddo.

On the glass, we opted for Italian wines, namely the white Sicilian Ca’di Ponti Catarratto, a dry white of a less known caste, resulting in a simple wine with a good aromatic side, and a red, the Piemonte Barbera 2018 Araldica, an easy wine, unpretentiousan everyday Piemonte.

The service went along with the greatest of the professionalisms, technically correct and with a good environment.

Final Remarks
In a city with a bit of everything, another Italian restaurant is not immediately the recipe for success, so here was created a unique room, with a romantic atmosphere, and where the work of a great name of our history is displayed.

The room and the quality of the service are the great highlights of this restaurant, and the cuisine complements the entire environment and scenario created.

 

Leonardo Dubai
Prices from 50€ (without wines)
Stella Di Mare Hotels & Resorts
Al Mattla’ee Street – Dubai
leonardo.dubai@stelladimare.com

Versão Portuguesa 

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Park Hyatt Dubai

In my mind, Dubai was like a science fiction movie, where I would feel a part of a world from 2100! I thought of it as a bustling, chaotic and crazy city, as well as ultra-expensive and without interest for a possible trip!

Oh, I was so wrong!!! Not about everything, it is for sure a science-fiction scenario!

Arriving in Dubai, coming from the calm and paradise-like Abu Dhabi creates an impact that is as exciting, as it is weird! Impossible to calculate the height of the gray skyscrapers! Dubai is around an hour away from Abu Dhabi by taxi, and the taxis are very affordable, even on longer trips.

As soon as we arrived in Dubai we immediately realize the city is constantly mutating! I believe when I return there will be a few more skyscrapers!

We booked this trip in order to get some rest, 2019 was being a very chaotic year and all I needed was to calm down a bit, and I managed that (for me, calming down is a true miracle!) in Abu Dhabi, but arriving in crazy Dubai I didn’t think that would continue! And again… I was completely wrong! And the big responsible for that was Park Hyatt Dubai, a true oasis in the center of this bustling city.

I can start by telling you about our first day with our cicerone, our long time friend, Nelson Catanho, who lives in Dubai for a long time now, and who took us to brunch. It seems that Fridays in Dubai are like our Sundays, for Brunch day and dolce far niente!

And if you think there’s no alcohol in Dubai…Well… You’re wrong! You can drink, and a lot!!! But let’s leave those stories and on to what matters! Our “little” refuge – Park Hyatt Dubai!

First Impression
We arrived at the hotel already at night, and it was superimposing even without a lot of light.

Located in the complex of Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Park Hyatt Dubai is the true meaning of a luxury escape in the most idyllic location. We are near the bustle of the city, but almost hidden in a different world, where serenity reigns1

Arriving at the lobby was like entering a One thousand and one night’s movie, with a mostly Arabic decoration and rich details.

The check-in was quick, and we were accompanied right away to our bedroom, and in a car! As the hotel is very big, and in order for the guest to rest, we are taken by car to our room, and what a room!!!

Bedrooms
The hotel has 223 bedrooms and 34 suites, all of them with an amazing view for the Dubai Creek.

Our room, with a small garden and direct access to the Marina, became the perfect refuge in the morning, with nature sounds as background.

Huge, with the perfect decoration, combining Arabic details with a modern style, the bathroom was the perfect place for me. A bathtub in the center, surrounded by mirrors making the perfect barrier with the rest of the room, a roomy shower and a closet next to the mirrors.

The bedroom was perfectly set for a calm wake up, with the bed facing the garden and the Marina.

The subtle orange, brown and beige tones led us to relaxation.

Brasserie du Park

Restaurants
Quality gastronomy, elegant decoration, and amazing views are all features of the bars and restaurants of Park Hyatt Dubai. Here we can find western, Thai and French gastronomy. Let’s start with the Brasserie du Park – with a touch of French cuisine, here we delighted ourselves every day with an amazing breakfast.

At Noépe, we are graced with the best views over the elegant marina and enjoy a summer vibe, easily taking us to Ibiza or Mykonos, where the white and blue make part of the decoration and where we can relax protected from the bustle of the city.

Noépe

Here we had a nice dinner and tasted a series of snacks highlighting the seafood.

Seafood dish at Noépe

The highlight of the dinner goes to the seafood dish, full of clams mussels, shrimp, oysters, and lobster. Then a nice combo of snacks, like tuna ceviche, shrimp. fried squid and to finish a nice slow roasted rib.

My mandatory dose of sugar!

One of the places I loved the most was the Seventyseventy!

A refined space, inspired by the elegant design of the early ’70s.

Seventyseventy

The fashion, design and position make of this space a place for clients looking for sophistication.

With signature cocktails, to fall in love with before dinner, or in the end of the night with music, marking our vacations with a unique moment.

Another space is The Thai Kitchen, that uses traditional ingredients directly imported from Thailand. We didn’t get the chance to visit.

The Shisha Lounge was one of my favorite spaces for the warm nights we had there. A lounge where comfort is the main concern, with sofas, pillows, candles, a coffee, and shisha Arab cuisine, and a view to the picturesque marina and Dubai Creek.

One of the places we made the most of was the pool and the Pool Bar, located in the calm environment of the pool.

Elegant decoration with Arab details, the scenario was set to end our days in total relaxation!

For those staying for long periods at the hotel and wishes to have even more variety in terms of food, there are more options around the extense complex of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – the Casa de Tapas, the Boardwalk, the Cielo Sky Lounge, and the QD’s Bar & Grill.

The Lagoon
Services

I’m not gonna elongate about the services of any five-star hotel, mainly being a Hyatt group hotel. Those following the blog already know the luxury to which the Hyatt group has gotten us used to.

Here at Park Hyatt Dubai we really have to mention a space – The Lagoon! An authentic oasis in the heart of the hotel. Located in the margins of the Dubai Creek, this majestic lagoon with an infinity pool effect also includes a beautiful private beach.

A refuge of white sand and warm water, where we can almost feel the bustle of the frantic Dubai from afar. The private spots along the lagoon are the perfect place for a memorable sunset.

It was for sure my spot this vacation!

The pool surrounded by the garden the Amara Spa are also of hightlight, and delights the youngest and the families, but he lagoon is easily the favorite spot for couples, as it is more intimate and calm.

Park Hyatt Dubai is also the perfect place for golf lovers, being inserted in a golf complex.

Service
The Hotel has what I call a perfect balance in terms of service. Feeling all the privacy in the world, but whenever you need something there’s someone with you right away.

One of my favorite spots 

For example, spending the day at the lagoon and suddently thinking: “this heat deserved something refreshing12, you open your eyes and there’s staff handing out ice cream. That is the dynamic of the hotel. Always caring for the needs of its guests, without invading their privacy!

Imagine yourselves in a city that doesn’t seem to sleep and a city that enters our mind like it’s going to own us… that city is Dubai!

But imagine you can be in such a place and be protected in a paradise like place – that place is Park Hyatt Dubai!

Park Hyatt Dubai
Bedrooms from 170€
PO Box 2822, Dubai – United Arab Emirates
+971 4 602 1234
dubai.park@hyatt.com

Versão Portuguesa

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Din Tai Fung Dubai

Din Tai Fung is well known for those who like gastronomy, famous for its xiao long bao and all the dim sum classics, handmade in each of their stores. Nowadays, this little Taiwanese restaurant, born in the ’70s, is one of the world’s biggest restaurant chains, present all around the globe, but always with the same focus from its beginning – good products, handmade food, freshly cooked, and a quick and caring service.

Taking my passion for Chinese food into account, and particularly for a good dim sum, I had to take this chance to visit one of its spaces during our stay in Dubai, more precisely the store at Dubai Mall. We visited during the Ramadan, so the affluence was made of tourists and foreigners, so we were quickly accompanied to our table.

Nothing to highlight the decoration, but that’s not why we’re there, although the view to the famous Dubai Mall fountain and to the Burj Khalifa are worthy of highlighting. That, and of course, the possibility to see the team hand preparing our dim sum.

The speed at which they prepare those small pieces of food is an attraction by itself 

Here there’s no pork, with respect to the locals, so the chicken and lamb take the spotlight in this adaptation of the Chinese cuisine classics.

Chicken and shrimp Shumai  
A nicely prepared classic, with juicy chicken, perfect dough and shrimp. A beautiful start!

Xiao long bao of chicken and crab 
These are the image of the house and we easily realize why! Delicate presentation, perfectly folded, and with a delicious filling, that when eaten by the xiao long bao rules, transforms into the ultimate comfort food.

Shrimp and chicken Jiaozi 
This traditional Chinese dish gave origin to the famous Japanese gyozas. I wish they could always be served like these, thin-crust, super crunchy, contrasting with the softness of the remaining dough and the juiciness and flavor of the filling. Perfect!

Wonton soup, of chicken and shrimp with noodles
Soup might not be the best dish when its 40ºC outside, but this perfect chicken broth, the texture of the noodles and the amazing wontons made it very worthwhile. Delicious!

Final Remarks
When Bing Yi-Yang and his wife decided to transform their oil store into a xiao long bao selling balcony, they were far from imagining the lengths the name of their little Taiwanese shop would travel. They’re everywhere these days, and even conquered the so desired Michelin star in Hong Kong, assuring that what they do, is really well made. In Dubai, the experience is quite unique, due to the pork substitution, usually more tasty and moist, by the chicken, but even so, the result is so positive we don’t even wish for a different filling.

Now I just have to anxiously wait to travel to a destination where there’s a Din Tai Fung around the corner for another comforting, tasty and pleasurable feast!

Din Tai Fung Dubai – The Dubai Mall
Prices from 25€ (without wine)
Dubai Mall Fashion Avenue Ground Floor nº203
+971 4 32 00 477

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Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Sometimes all we need is to get away from reality, and to achieve that, what better than an authentic The Thousand and One Nights scenario?

That’s why we chose Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi. Hyatt is always a synonym of luxury and of the welcoming art. It’s one of those groups that our followers know never disappoints us, and the idea of spending a few days at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi was the promise of a refuge, exciting and relaxing at the same time!

And so it was! But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Location and first impression
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas is conveniently located at Saadiyat beach and close to every important thing in this region. The airport, the main financial and commercial areas, the golf courses, main attractions and just a few minutes from the cultural district of Saadiyat.

Making it very easy to visit the most famous places, like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi.

As soon as we arrive at the hotel, it’s greatness caused inevitable fascination.

A breathtaking lobby, simple decoration, with neutral colors mixed with warm colors, and ambiance music taking us to a scene of the famous movie.

The lobby, huge, thus less intimate, but with a very calm environment transmitting a sense of privacy.

The team, quite nice and effective during check-in, then accompanied us to the bedroom.

Bedrooms
The hotel has 306 bedrooms, some normal bedrooms, other suites, and some villas.

We stayed in a King Bed with sea views. Contemporary decoration with Arabic details making it as comfortable as luxurious.

Waiting for us were several types of fruit, dry fruits, and pastries. Small details that make all the difference, with the same being restocked every day and showcasing the several products of the region.

The bedroom, with around 50m2, had a marble bathroom, quite spacious, with a king-size bed, extremely comfortable, office space and a sofa giving more comfort to the room.

The ex-libris? A balcony with a breathtaking view over the beach and the Saadiyat beach, where I had one of the best experiences of this stay… on the first day I woke up at 6 am, and without disturbing a sleeping João, I decided to enjoy the perfect silence of the sunrise and the peace sensation the ocean transmits.

Restaurants
The hotel has four options, and one of those divides into two.

The Park Grill

The Park Bar & Grill is the awarded restaurant of Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, going from the excellent charcoal-grilled meats to the tasty seafood, and Asian dishes.

We had an amazing dinner at the terrace, with the warm night of Abu Dhabi as our companion. Good product, worked with simplicity, as intended at a restaurant where the grill has the spotlight.

Tuna tartar

Grilled lobster

From the tuna tartar to the Wagyu beef, the grilled lobster or the black truffle pide, the cooking was on point, by the hands of a Brazilian chef passionate by the grill.

The night views of The Park Grill are halfway to an excellent meal

This restaurant has also an upstairs floor The Park Bar, with a great selection of cocktails and a vibrant ambiance. Here we tasted an Asian inspired menu, where Vietnamese and Thai cuisines stand out. Accompanying, a unique tasting of cocktails to celebrate our first Arabic evening!

The Park Bar

An Asian inspired negroni 

The meal was light, fresh and of great pleasure, as expected in this region. Highscore to the Pho, the Vietnamese tacos and the shrimp curry.

All delicious!

The hotel has also one of the most cosmopolitan terraces in Abu Dhabi – the Beach House.

Beach House

A space that conquered tourists and locals, for its astonishing views over the beach, the music, and of course, the Mediterranean cuisine where the Spanish flavors and the tapas are the main references.

We had the chance to have lunch here after an amazing morning of sun and sea. Starting with cocktails (you know me!) and ending with a great crema Catalana as dessert.

The great shrimp al ajillo at the Beach House

The breakfast spot, and one of the most important spaces for me (those who read my articles know my love for breakfasts), its The Café.

Open all day, serving Middle Eastern specialties and international cuisine.

The Café

As to breakfast itself, I couldn’t ask for more, from natural juices to pastries, from international classic cuisine to middle eastern cuisine, gluten-free, etc, nothing was left to chance.

  Last, but not least, we have The Library.

A contemporary tea room serving different coffees and teas, besides chocolates and homemade sweets.

With its orange leather details, black marble and fireplace, it invites us to unique idleness moments.

Services
The truth is that when you stay at a Hyatt hotel, there is almost nothing the guest can’t get because the most important is that the guest feels such complete happiness he wants to come back.

So, besides all the services that come with any luxury hotel, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi has the privilege of being literally on the Saadiyat beach, allowing its guests to enjoy the thin sand beach and the warm sea.

One of the things that surprised me the most in this trip to UAE was to find a beach like Saadiyat, so serene, crystal clear water and perfect temperature, allowing me to relax and feel inside an authentic oasis, without having to go to the traditional beach paradises to enjoy a beach.

The several pools and jacuzzis along the hotel assure fun and relaxation, to the younger as well as the eldest.

And although liking the beach, I love pools! And there I spent most of my time during this stay, mostly because the pool complex was so big we were able to be alone for a great part of the day, and also because there were specific places and pools for children, the silence was a constant, and lastly, but most importantly, because it was closer to the bar, so the cocktails arrived quicker to me!!

Its gym and spa allow even more relaxation moments and the absence from the real world.

It’s important to mention that these days I already consider myself as a physical activity lover (not really, but I do exercise!) and so right on the first day  I was a client of the gym. The first and the only day!!

The reception of Atarmia Spa The relaxing private pool of the Spa

There’s a lot of activities you can do through the hotel, for that, you just have to contact the concierge and do it all to your own liking. A boat tour, a walk around town, visiting any of the places of interest, or even the opportunity to enjoy other beaches or some of the famous amusement parks of Abu Dhabi. Everything is possible in this Park Hyatt!

During our stay in Abu Dhabi, we opted to visit two major places, the Sheik Zayed Mosque with its unpaired greatness and the Louvre Abu Dhabi with its baffling architecture.

The hotel is not only an amazing beach resort focused on leisure and relaxation, but it’s also the perfect place for conferences and congresses with its six rooms for the effect.

But these rooms are not only for work! Whatever you are celebrating, moment or date, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi will help you prepare the happiest and most important day ever!

This space is truly the perfect place for a fantastic vacation, honeymoon, vacation with friends or with family. It really was everything I needed at the moment we went on this trip!

O Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi is an authentic oasis we don’t ever want to leave, and just want to be lost in a one thousand and one night’s mystical story.

From the dreamlike location to the nice staff and the diverse services, everything in this oasis makes us leave already wanting to come back soon.

And so,

See you soon Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi!

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Bedrooms from 315€
PO Box 2822, Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates 
+971 2 407 1234
abudhabi.park@hyatt.com

Versão Portuguesa

Text: Cíntia Oliveira Photos: Flavors & Senses

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Jòia par Hélène Darroze

Hélène Darroze is a very well known name, and if the majority of the French know her as jury of the famous Top Chef, gastronomers know her every step from birth. Born in a historic family of cooks, she graduated in management, and it was while managing the restaurant Louis XV of Alain Ducasse, that the famous chef incentivated her to turn to the stoves, and gladly he did, she went from Ducasse’s kitchen to win her first Michelin star in the “old” family restaurant, to her arrival in Paris, where she achieved the two Michelin stars, to arriving in London where nowadays has also two stars, and of course, to the award of best female chef in the world in 2015.

Hélène, as a celebrety should, decided to take her cuisine to a larger public, and democratize bistronomie, installing herself in the 8th neighborhood of Paris with the Jòia, a space far from the gastronomic line, where the goal is clearly taking to her guests a type of cuisine you usually cook at home for friends and family.

If the cuisine gets inspiration from Hélène’s origins, of Southwest France and the Basque country, the image of the restaurant gets the influence of the years passed in England. On the ground floor, the spotlight goes to the tall tables and the kitchen, on the upper floor it all changes. An elegant cocktail bar and a room filled with sofas, books and warm colors making us feel at home!

Already installed, there’s no way around the signature cocktails, an extensive menu carefully prepared and where the highlight goes to this Gioia with vodka Grey Goose, Martini Ambrato, bergamot, absinthe Larusée, grapefruit and soda. Very good!

Terrine with Sicilian pistachio 
The beginning couldn’t be more of an indicator of what we came here to taste and share. Nicely prepared terrine, good size, texture and flavor. Very well accompanied with good quality bread and pickles.

Landes Foie Gras, timut pepper 
Another product from her region worked with excellence, here with a great quality mi-cuit, both in texture and in flavor, and very well paired with the delicious chutney.

Egg and truffle 
Light, unctuous, and familiar, are three adjectives that very much describe this dish, with the perfectly cooked egg, the black truffle, the leaves, and the crunchy toast.

Landes chicken, Brioche and foie
The majority of the dishes is prepared for two people, and this one was no exception and couldn’t have been more “homy”! Perfectly cooked meat, benefiting from the brioche and the foie used under the skin to enhance the flavor. To go with we chose a leaf salad and crispy potatoes with brébis cheese, that fulfilled their purposes well!

Matcha mille fuille, yuzu cream
The most famous and “instagrammable” dessert of the restaurant, that lives of its looks, but the the lightness of the layers, with the creamy and rich mascarpone and yuzu cream, are a winning surprise.
Chocolate tart, buckwheat ice cream 
By far one of the best chocolate tarts I ever tasted… Perfect technique, thin dough, creamy filling, sweet enough, good quality chocolate. The unusual choice of buckwheat for pairing the chocolate was also very well-accomplished. A round of applause to the baker, please!

During this lunch, we drank a nice Chardonnay, Burgundy 2016, from Domaine de Béru. The wine list has the singularity of containing wines produced by women only, like the case of our Filipa Pato.

The service went accordingly to the expected, very diligent, quite effective and with the right combination of niceness and accuracy only the French can do.

Final Remarks 
With this Jòia, Hélène Darroze decided to play outside her usual game, bringing to the table her comfort food and memories, executed with rigor and products of great quality and, of course, the right prices for those. Jòia is one of those spaces that’ll live despite the name, and where we can find those enchanted with the tv star, the foodies and people who simply want to eat and enjoy the nice cocktail list. A cozy space where you want to stay and enjoy the small things of life, worked with mastery.

Ps: the lunch menu with options at 24€  and 29€ is usually a success!

Jòia par Hélène Darroze
Prices from 60€ (without wines)
39 rue des Jeuneurs – Paris
+33 (0) 1 40 20 06 06
reservation@joiahelenedarroze.com

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Au Passage

The Au Passage was born with the Boom of neo-bistros and Wine bars that invaded Paris from 2010 onwards. It soon gained the spotlight and in 2012 it was one of the favorites of the new Parisian cuisine, and even awarded as “Fooding d’Amour 2012”!

Destiny dictated that a space that so much reflects a new way of seeing the city ( away from the luxury and palaces, but always focused on the best French produce) should live of foreign chefs in the kitchen. From James Henry to Dave Harrison, or Shaun Kelly, or Edward Delling-Williams (who also worked at Euskalduna during dinner alongside Vasco Coelho Santos), and now, the spotlight is occupied by Luís Andrade, a Portuguese, a designer transformed into a cook by the Parisian life.

The restaurant was in our list of spaces to visit, and this time we had the perfect excuse!

The space reflects the bustle of the new a lively Paris, very different from the Belle Époque, for sure! The decoration, that could’ve come from any flea market, transports us to an environment so relaxed it is hard to distinguish between employees and guests during dinner.

It’s more likely to have dinner to the sound of Tupac or B.I.G. than to any calm ambiance music, dancing a bit while sharing the several dishes that make the menu and take a dip in the great selection of natural wines.

Dry sausage
The usual way of starting dinner around here. Excellent quality products, nicely accompanied by pickles and excellent bread, essential throughout dinner.

Oysters and passion fruit
Oysters of good size, dressed with a passion fruit ponzu. At first, it is weird but in the end surprising and the combo by Luís Andrade is well-accomplished.

Scallop and Kumquat
Despite the relaxed space, decoration, and prices, the cuisine flows in a different direction – with a lot of work, ideas, and rigor in the product selection. Scallops tartar, perfectly seasoned, with crunchy elements giving the right texture and a kumquat emulsion, an indication of the chef’s secret, the sauces.

Abalone, celery, and mushrooms 
The most Japanese touch of the menu, a delicious broth, enrichened by the mushrooms, sided by the freshness of the celery and the unique texture of the abalone. Very good!

Crayfish
Tagliatelle made in the restaurant, with an amazing sauce, full of flavor, with a perfectly cooked crayfish, better than some starred restaurants. One of the best seafood pasta dishes we ever tasted!

The standard was by then very high! In reality, we were like two kids wondering what more could come out of there when:

Sweetbreads, Spinach, and dates
A great, great dish! Very well-worked sweetbread with a delicious meat sauce, with capers butter. Soft spinach with a touch of almond flavor and texture, and an amazing date paste. By this time the bread did not survive all the sauces!

Pidgeon, shiitake, coffee, and Polenta 
Another dish of great technical accuracy, where less is clearly more! All perfectly cooked, with the pidgeon accompanied once again by another great sauce and a nice coffee polenta.

Belém tart and Chocolate
Two very different desserts, one like a memory of home for the chef, who took the recipe of the classic Gâteau Breton and filled it with a similar cream to our famous Portuguese pastry. The chocolate, as the name indicates, was really that, different techniques and textures of chocolate, presented in one dish, where the spotlight clearly belongs to the mousse.

Both desserts gave us a more than happy ending!

About the service, it is important to remember the previously made comment about being difficult to distinguish between staff and guests, in this case proving the diligence and camouflage the staff has.

Final Remarks
To those who live restaurants as I do, there’s hardly anything better than being surprised by one, being “wowed” by each dish, while rolling our eyes and licking our lips! When a space like Au Passage, with menus written in slate, uninteresting glasses and a mix and match decoration, surprises us like this, it’s total happiness! Looking at the menu and its prices we are far from guessing the work behind each dish, it would be easier to unfreeze and use the microwave, but no, it wouldn’t be as fun! (they must think!), and they start prepping the dishes in the morning (the restaurant only opens from 19h to 01h30).

It’s a breath of fresh air to find people willing to work to the rhythm of the seasons, with daily changing menus, not overcharging the clients, because quality, pattern, and accuracy they have!

A restaurant to go to, to return to, and repeat without excuses.

 

Au Passage
Prices from 35€ (without wine)
1 bis, Passage Saint-Sébastien – Paris
+33 (0) 1 43 55 07 52
baraupassage@gmail.com

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Le Roch Hotel & Spa

Luxury is getting much more intimate than palatial! We continuously look for places that make us feel unique and actually important, and less of the bustle of the big hotels. That’s why we chose Le Roch on our last trip to the city of light!

Paris is, and will always be, a synonym of luxury, elegance and love! Le Roch is all that! 

A boutique hotel with a perfect location at Rue Saint Roch between Place de l’Opera and Place Vendôme.

As you get in, you understand right away the lobby is as much intimate as it is cosy, with a contemporary decoration, that privileges comfort above everything, without neglecting elegance and aesthetics.

The medium-light makes us feel safe, almost like we know inside here we are hidden from the world outside. The blue and the light game on the bookshelves create a very idle environment.

Although contemporary, many of the decoration details make us travel back to the ’20s and the Belle Époque, and that’s what you want from Paris!

The Parisian Sarah Poniatowski-Lavoine was in charge of the decoration and put her entire soul and passion into it.

Le Roch has 37 bedrooms, five of which are suites.

We stayed in a Superior bedroom.

The tones and mid-light are also constant. The bathroom, simple and elegant, has Codage products.

The bed, extremely comfortable, was also simple but very pretty.

We were welcomed with champagne in the bedroom – a detail that should be mandatory in every luxury hotel!

The windows from ceiling to the floor, with their burgundy colour mixed with the beautiful rug, that once again reminded me of the art decó style.

Le Roch has that singularity that makes us want to go back to after a frantic day wandering around the city. For enjoying a relaxing moment with a cocktail at the bar, or read a book at the wonderful terrace, a hanging garden that makes us forget the world outside, or to take care of our bodies and minds at the spa.

The terrace and its comfortable “winter house” 

Speaking of the spa, it is for sure the star of the hotel. With a warm pool (this time I won’t complain about the water temperature!), a Turkish bath incorporated in the pool, jacuzzi (with a somewhat exaggerated jet pressure) and a relaxing area.

Spa with one of the rare interior pools of Paris  

Next to the Spa, there’s a small gym equipped with all things necessary to keep fit and fight the excesses of the French cuisine.

Besides the Bar and the Terrace, that I mentioned before, Le Roch has also a restaurant headed by Rémy Bererd.

Roch Restaurant

The skylight in the centre of the restaurant gets a natural light to brilliantly illuminate the entire space. The blue and green of the velvety chairs chosen by Sarah give the room an unpaired sensation of comfort, as well as assuring its presence in many decoration magazines.

Here I tasted some of the best scrambled eggs ever! Contrary to what many think, making scrambled eggs isn’t that simple! But these at Le Roch are perfect, as well as the quality of the products presented at the buffet! 

Le Roch is the place for travellers seeking simplicity rather than ostentation!

It makes us fall in love with its colours, furniture and authentic objects, and its simple but refined lines.

The cosy environment you get right from the moment you enter the hotel really makes us want to stay there. The niceness of the entire staff and their ability to never being invasive make us feel at home.

Le Roch is a part of this new luxury – the art of providing a private, intimate, empathic and unpretentious experience!

See you soon Paris, and see you soon Le Roch!

Le Roch Hotel & Spa
Bedrooms from 370€
28, Rue Saint Roch – Paris
+33 1 70 83 00 00
reservation@leroch-hotel.com

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Assiette Champenoise – Arnaud Lallement

At the gates of Reims, in the heart of Champagne, we found the L’Assiette Champenoise, a classic French hotel-restaurant, open for more than 40 years, nowadays in the hands of the second generation of the Lallement family.

Arnaud Lallement early traced his future, without any family pressures, from an early age he knew he would become a cook, growing up inside all the magic of a kitchen. He studied, graduated and before joining his fathers brigade, he made sure to learn with some of the main names of the French cuisine of that time, Roger Vergé, Michel Guérard and Alain Chapel – no big deal!

The stars kept coming since 2001 when he fully assumed the leadership of the restaurant, up to 2014, the year he got the so desired third star of the red guide. Arnauld, on his hand, doesn’t wear the title of star-chef at all, it’s easier to find him in the kitchen or in the middle of a champagne vineyard, than in books, tv or magazines. He feels the best in his kitchen, with his clients, and that’s what you expect from a starred chef…

But on with our experience, after being surprised by the modern decoration and the quality of the bedrooms (see here), it was the time to be surprised by the restaurant, at the arrival we are surprised by an entire service brigade, accompanying us to our table, like in a state ceremony, but always with sympathy, smiles and kindness, that many times is a miss in the classic French service.

Immaculate tables, noble materials, a room full of details and a classic Baccarat chandelier, contrasting with the more modern details of the decoration.

After installed, the show starts right away, first with the champagne, Caillez-Lemaire Caillez Reflets Brut – elegant and well-balanced to start the tasting. And secondly, for a series of small snacks arriving at the table.

Crunchy leaves, small tartlets, falafels, beetroot mousse, among others. All very well accomplished, showcasing the technical accuracy and quality of the produce, however, not surprising!

But the surprise was soon to arrive, artisanal bread, prepared with beer and semi-salted Finistere butter, from Brittany. So good, I couldn’t stop eating it along with the entire meal.

The tradition – Potée Champenoise
The potée champenoise is for this region, what the “cozido” is for us Portuguese, a nice stew of pork meats, potato and vegetables. Here Arnauld opens the meal with a homage to his homeland, in a super high standard dish. Pork, cabbage and carrot as the rules dictate, a flawless broth and full of flavour, transformed into an immaculate consomé, a crunch detail. All perfect and comforting, with the pickle and mustard notes bringing a vibrant lightness to the dish. A great start!

Scallops and endives 
These days, scallops are almost mandatory in every restaurant, unfortunately with the majority of them lacking quality! Not the case here though, big, fresh and perfectly cooked, accompanied by the earthy notes of the roasted endives with a crust of spices and paprika tiles. The connecting elements of the dish were a nice scallop mousse and an elegant champagne white wine sauce.  A dish of contrasts, flavour and textures, where France seems to have drunk a bit of inspiration from Morocco.

Harmonizing was a Julien Chopin Blanc de Blancs 2012 Premier Cru Les Originelles, with classic aromatic notes of chardonnay champagne, nice acidity, and a great combination with the notes of the dish.

Benoît Deloffre Beetroot, seaweed and vermouth
When the name of the farmer gets the spotlight in the name of the dish, we know we are before a special product, and so it was! Balance, fat (given by an excellent lardo di colonnata and seaweed butter), sea and earth notes in a perfect marriage, where the product shines.

On the glass, an old acquaintance of ours, the Legras Rosé, with a major structure and complexity of flavours and aromas that went very well with this “earth” dish.

Shrimp and Mushrooms
A small dish once again matching sea and earth notes, with perfectly cooked shrimp, crunchy heads and small mushrooms, all paired with a red wine sauce and freshened by the lime zest. Good, but a few points below the previous dishes.

Accompanying was a Devaux 2008, an excellent millésimé of a great year in the region, still very young, but powerful, balanced and elegant. It will have a great future!

Blue Lobster, a tribute to my father
As a good homage, the lobster dish was the highest moment of dinner, perfect meat and unforgettable sauce! There’s not much more to say, superb!

On the glass there was a Janisson Blanc de Noir Grand Cru, a complex 100% pinot noir, full of aroma richness, from red fruits to citrus. A beautiful champagne!

Squab Pithivier, spinach caillette and pidgeon jus

Technique, technique, technique! Everything was perfect on this classic French cuisine dish, a dreamlike puff pastry, expected given the work the chef did alongside the master Michel Guérard, meat on point, high-quality foie gras, delicate sauce and all the elements in harmony. Needless to say that by this time my 10th slice of bread was soaking the sauce out of the dish…

To step aside from the champagnes, but remain in the region, we got a red, the Ormes Bérêche et Fils Coteaux Champenois Les Montées 2015, a pinot from champagne, that could easily be a beautiful wine from Burgundy, still very young, but with huge potential and giving much pleasure at the table already.

Cheese selection by Philippe Olivier
A huge cheese selection carefully picked up by Philippe Olivier, for a moment of pure and simple pleasure. And more bread of course…

The dessert was Passion fruit and pistachio that between the well-rehearsed parade of the team and the desire to eat ended up not being photographed… A combination of passion fruit textures, sablé breton, dark meringue and different textures of pistachio. A proposal a bit below the previous dishes, yet, still with a great combo of texture and flavour, with highlight to the passion fruit ice cream.

petit fours

As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, the petit fours arrive at the table, here at the highest level and in great quantity – yes, what you see in the photo was for two – delicious cannelés, marshmallows, bonbons, lemon tart, pâte de fruit and florentines. I just wanted to eat everything…

Harmonizing, as mandatory, was a Ratafia from Champagne, a liquor produced in the region. A great ending!

The service? There aren’t many words to describe it, a very well-rehearsed theatre, with all details meticulously being taken care of. From the time between dishes, the water and wine refills, without forgetting a very important detail, the bread service… Always attentive to my needs!

Final remarks
The L’Assiette Champenoise is nowadays the only three stars of the Champagne region, and one of the greatest visiting cards of the region. For its fantastic hotel, and obviously for the cuisine. Arnaud Lallement has the same target of the great French cuisine masters, excellent product, lots of technique, and of course, unforgettable sauces. This, allied with one of the best cellars in the world, Champagne wise, and the possibility of harmonizing the tasting menus with different champagnes, thus making the best of a trip around the region.
A chef that actually is in his kitchen, a great restaurant, great wines and beautiful service, that’s how you describe L’Assiette Champenoise.

Ps – To captivate the visit of the younger generation to gastronomic restaurants, the chef proposes his menu with harmonization at a special price for people under 35. A remarkable idea!

Assiete Champenoise
Menus from 105€ (Lunch)
40, Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, Tinqueux – Reims
+33 (0) 3 26 84 64 64
infos@assiettechampenoise.com

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Assiette Champenoise

After Épernay it was time to visit Reims, more precisely the L’Assiette Champenoise.

Here, in this place, there’s one of the best restaurants in France, and where I had one of the best gastronomic experiences (as a Birthday gift)!

This place is also a true family history!

Jean-Pierre and Colette Lallement opened a restaurant, in 1975, in a village called Chalon sur Veles, close to Reims.

But, in 1986, they felt the need to grow and evolve and went to Tinqueux, next to Reims. Transforming an imposing bourgeois house into a restaurant-hotel!

In 1996, Arnaut started working with his father, and in 2001 they won their first star of the Michelin guide, the following came in 2005 and 2014, and remain till today (and very well deserved I must say!).

The modern decor in contrast with the history of the building captivates us right away when looking at the entrance

In 2009, the restaurant and the reception were totally renewed and in 2010, a total renovation of the hotel took place and new suites were created.

All this change was the responsibility of the interiors architect Grégory Guillmain. And we now find a hotel with a contemporary decoration, reminding us of the very disruptive style of Philipe Starck in the use of metal and materials combination. Meaning… amazing!

In 2013, the Assiette was consecrated as a five-star hotel.

As soon as we arrive at the hotel we stand before an imposing bourgeois house! But the reception shows us right away the contemporary vibe that distinguishes the hotel. This combo is perfect, I must confess!

I fell in love with the flowers perfectly aligned.

We were welcomed by an effective team that accompanied us to our bedroom. Transmitting all that I love about the service of a luxury hotel: sympathy, care, and not invasive! Perfect combo!

The hotel has 33 bedrooms distributed among four floors.

We stayed in a Balcony suite, or should I say home?

Contemporary decor, but cosy – another perfect combination!

With a service bathroom right at the entrance, followed by a living room, elegantly decorated and a small relaxing room, with access to a small terrace with a view to the gardens of the hotel.

A small incorporated closet in the bedroom served its purpose well, and the huge bathroom demonstrated the grandeur of this true luxury hotel bedroom.

The bed, one of the most comfortable I ever felt, and the linen, surely one of the softest. All details were taken into account in this bedroom!

Waiting for us were some tasty religieuses and a bottle of Deutz!

Super approved bedroom! The time had come to see the rest of the hotel!

The decor of this hotel completely filled my measures, I could easily live there!

I’ve never been to a hotel with so many spaces entirely dedicated to relaxation and idleness.

One of the ex libris is the interior pool, warmed to 28 ºC (and for me, it could be much hotter!). This area, all surrounded with glass, allows us to be in perfect tune with the gardens of the hotel, an authentic park, and when we stayed there, they were covered in snow!

However, this is one of the most beautiful places in the hotel, to rest after a visit to Reims, or to read a book, or a champagne glass in the evening.

The charms of the snowy gardens of the hotel 

Speaking of champagne, one of the most vibrant spaces of the hotel is the Le Bar, where it’s possible to have a champagne tasting!

Le Bar

But the true treasure of the hotel is the restaurant! That as I said, has three Michelin stars since 2014, by the hand of Arnaud Lallement.

Here I had the chance to taste one of the best meals of my life and to see a real theatre play, so much was the perfection and synch of the entire team in the room! But João will talk about it in an exclusive article!

Our dinner table

There was no better way to celebrate my 35 years, for sure, than at this hotel, with this comfort and decoration, a familiar environment and with one of the best restaurants in France!

It was the assurance of one very happy birthday, and so it was!

Even more because after an unforgettable dinner, we were surprised with a matching breakfast, a pristine and calm room, great quality produce and much care and love in everything they offer their clients!

Thank you Assiette Champenoise, I can’t wait to go back!

Assiete Champenoise
Bedrooms from 185€
40, Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, Tinqueux – Reims
+33 (0) 3 26 84 64 64
infos@assiettechampenoise.com

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Photos: Flavors & Senses

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