Feel the vibe with A Cappella

A restaurant’s atmosphere sets the stage. It’s about more than just a dining room away from home. Food takes the spotlight as guests become its audience. Factors such as music, lighting, artwork and spacing combine to create comfort, intimacy and even romance.

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A cappella is just the right restaurant to visit with your special one. Located in Pointe the Palm; the restaurant offers a variety of mocktails and fine dining options. The staff is extremely courteous, they look after you with undivided attention and make the entire dining experience worthwhile.

I started off the culinary journey with pani puri that comes in a theatrical presentation with smoke blowing from everywhere around and you can witness laboratory inspired funnels carrying chutneys and tiny pani puris lined on the sides. It definitely looked awesome. I believe the stuffing inside paani puri could have been improved.

This place is a goldmine for people who enjoy alcoholic cocktails but since I stay away from all kinds of intoxicants, the staff made sure I don’t miss out on the experience so they served me a non-alcoholic lychee mocktail that was super tasty and pretty.

Then I had amazing beef sliders, the beef patty was juicy and not overly spiced but the caramelized onion at the bottom of patty were the real deal. The entire slider was outstanding. I also tried the cheese slider that was actually made with a cheese patty and it was brilliant! I am definitely ordering beef and cheese sliders separately the next time.

Then came the show stopper lamb chops, they were glazed with slightly sweet yet charred spices. The lamb was soft and convenient to eat with a knife and fork in such fancy setting. Right after this I witnessed bhuna murgh approaching my table and my eyes were wide open with excitement because usually you expect finger food in such settings but this was beyond my expectations. The chicken looked amazingly charred from the corners and was cooked perfectly.

After all of these delicious meals, I was served mac and cheese and this one is honestly the best I have had so far. There was fried garlic chopped into crumbs and garnished on top which provided extra flavor to the dish and the cheese inside wasn’t just liquefied cheese that usually tastes weird. It was pure cheese that melted with the macaroni.

Finally, it was time for desserts (my favorite part of the dining experience). We were served Tiramisu and a chocolate pecan globe. Even though the chocolate pecan was sinfully indulgent, my winner was tiramisu. It was gentle and the mascrapone cheese was added in just the right amounts for a smooth texture.

Thank you for such an amazing night Team A cappella! I would recommend my readers to visit this restaurant on a Friday as they have bollywood nights and I am sure they will be super!

 

A Cappella Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BTS Food blogging- Fiction vs Reality?

If you follow my instagram account or any other foodies on instagram, I think you might find this interesting! Let me start by introducing myself so you know where I am coming from.

I am a Clinical Researcher and a Food enthusiast. When I moved to Dubai from Karachi, Pakistan- I loved the food scene here since this is a city where you can get Pakistani, Indian, Middle Eastern, Egyptian, American, Italian, Lebanese and so many more cuisines. All in one city. I splurged on innovative restaurants and trendy meals weekly when one day I noticed a couple walking in the restaurant and instead of sitting on a table, they spoke to the manager and were immediately looked after. I thought to myself maybe they are special guests. Soon, they pulled out a professional camera out of their bags and started taking pictures of food in creative ways. I then thought that they were perhaps food photographers. Later on, I found out that they were food bloggers.

Somehow in that moment I felt that I want to feel the same way. I too wish to walk in a restaurant and aim my professional camera to the glass of pinacolada and be creative with it and also get free food. I started writing food reviews on zomato and instantly loved the feeling of sharing my honest opinion on a fried chicken I devoured or a salad. But my reviews were usually lengthy and I loved talking in detail about a restaurant experience so I started this blog last year and received my first restaurant invite ever to review the menu. Yes, that was an amazing feeling that can not be described into words. Receiving the first restaurant review invite is a happiness that is unlike any other feeling, in fact it is so addictive that I wasn’t able to say “no” to any restaurant invite after that for a year. I blogged about 50 restaurants around UAE in the past year that makes me rank among the top ten bloggers in Dubai today.

 

That sounds cool right? Free food? Foodies to gather with on different ocassions? making new friends? Yes, please.

Let me walk you through this. This is how a restaurant review proceeds- the restaurants provide good food and efficient service (two relatively inexpensive things, compared to the cost of paid advertisements), and the food blogger shares photos of their food with tens of thousands of people and writes an honest review in return.

Now here’s the truth- A few years into my blogging journey, I’ve stopped accepting many of the restaurant invitations. In fact, the longer I blog, the fewer free restaurant meals I accept and the more I pay for everything on my own. Following are the main 5 reasons for this:

1. Honesty is the best policy?

The major problem arises when I visit a restaurant and do not like their food and give them my honest feedback. They ask me to sugar coat this in the blog and that their restaurant rating shouldn’t drop which becomes contradictory to why I started this blog. I try my best to stay neutral in a blog where I did not like the food served at XYZ restaurant because of strict UAE defamation laws and also because I don’t want to hurt anyone.
I was once chased by a Restaurant PR because they wanted me to give them the highest rating when I didn’t like their food at all but it was disturbing and what was all the hassle for? I asked the restaurant- had they treated me the same way if I were a customer instead of a blogger?

2. Time is money

The 2018 version of me would be quite baffled by this statement but over the time I have realized that restaurant tastings take 3-4 hours of my evenings when I can visit the same restaurant as a non-blogger and pay for my food and save 50% of time. Why you ask? simply because the cost of all that food is not worth 3 hours of my time. Heck! I don’t even eat that much.

3. Free food does not pay my bills

I have to drop this truth bomb because its all fun and games until you have to get back to the ultimate reality of life. Sure its fun but it doesn’t pay my rent or the bills.

4. Turn the tables

I love the experience of dining at a restaurant, and when I show up to media tasting as a food blogger, I don’t always get to experience that. Now, I do get to enjoy some other unique things, like talking with the chef, being shown a behind-the-scenes look into the kitchen, and getting vouchers as a take away gift. But none of that is a realistic restaurant experience for the average diner, so I don’t think it’s a realistic way for me to give my opinion of a restaurant.

5. It’s just not the same

I get so many comments from foodies on my restaurant blogs saying- we went to xyz restaurant on your recommendation and the service was so bad and etc etc. I actually feel for that person who was influenced by my opinion of a restaurant and regrets later. For instance, my instagram feed is full of gorgeous photographs of food because I had been to various food blogger gatherings and restaurant tastings. But when I really like a restaurant and their service, I make sure to go back after a while as a paying customer because I just wanted to be sure that I loved it just as much. But sadly, it wasn’t the same.

Am I still accepting Restaurant Invites?

Yes. My criteria to saying yes for a restaurant review invite is:

  • Instances when there is a new small business in town that needs help. When a new food truck invites me to try their menu; I definitely say yes.
  • An older restaurant with great reputation. If PF Changs sends me an invite, I’m running barefoot for this one.
  • When it’s a second or third meal from a restaurant that I really love- I loved the salads at abc restaurant and now they are offering me to review their brunch menu? Yes sir!

 

 

 

Food Earth and Love- all together.

Located in Trade center, Dubai; FEL is bound to impress you with their neat white vibes and simple decor. Their interior and food both are based on the popular belief “Less is more”. Now I don’t meant that their meal portion sizes are small because they were enormous. I meant the use of flavors and plating techniques and the menu itself that isn’t composed of ten pages of this and that. Its fairly easier to decide what to eat since the menu describes each dish clearly. FEL uses the freshest and organic ingredients only for their meals. Before I begin dissecting my experience for you, please understand that FEL stands for Food, Love and Earth. I find it beautiful 🙂

We were served Ice water upon arrival and I specifically loved their glasses.

I started off with a classic cup of coffee that was quite a giant cup but was really strong. I then had their summer salad which comprises of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, balamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese. You may even add chicken to this if you’d like to. Priced at 38 Aed, I feel it was really filling and delicious.

Next up, were the cali chicken wraps. These looked absolutely colorful and a treat for the eyes. The chicken were sliced into thin strips for these and everything tasted brilliant. The chicken was spiced to perfection and even one lettuce wrap was really filling.

Then came something that literally blew my mind. It was a burger that looked pretty simple in a time when burgers come with oozing cheese and ketchup and what not. When I took the first bite, I was so happy and surprised. I looked at the burger patty and asked the server which protein was used to make this? And he tells me that its a vegan burger. I swear my eyes popped out a little. The burger patty was made up of potatoes, beetroot and peas. I mean it was unbelievably good! Try it for yourself, ask for the impossible vegan burger.

I also had the spiced chicken bowl that was made of cajun spiced chicken, cabbage slaw, coconut rice, seared vegetable and avocado cubes. I felt the coconut rice were slightly sweet and needed a more spicy chicken to pair with but the chicken was less spiced so the overall flavor did not quite appeal to me but the seared vegetables were great!

Thank you Team FEL for the wonderful dining experience. I highly recommend my readers to visit.

FEL Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Falafel Party from Operation Falafel

I always plan to eat here but never actually do that and it had been 4 years so I finally decided to order food home and see what the hype is about. I placed order through zomato and it got accepted but then I received a call from the restaurant that they are out of eggplant so they cant put it in my wrap 😦 that was just sad, so I agreed for a wrap without it. Although they delivered complimentary hummus to make up for it but hey! ain’t no hummus makes up for eggplant in my wrap. IMG_4986

Anyway, the falafel were pretty crispy and good. I just feel they were overpriced just because they had a chutney filling inside. Normally, you get a falafel for 50 fils or 1 aed from street restaurants but this one was 10 aed for 4 pcs :/ because its “stuffed”. The menu reads that these falafels are stuffed with pine nuts, onions and shatta but all I could taste was shatta (hot sauce)

The wraps were fine nothing extraordinary about those. I would suggest the restaurant to increase their quality of food in terms of flavors and decrease the price a tad bit 🙂

Operation:Falafel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Even chicken recommends Chicken Cottage

Last week I went to Chicken cottage in the mall at JBR, Dubai. Its located on the ground floor with a great space for seating. The most intriguing part of their food is that they don’t use any preservatives for their meals. All ingredients are halal and fresh. I was fasting when I went here and planned to break my fast with the crispy chicken. So I ordered and waited for sunset to enjoy the meal. The service was a bit slow and I actually had to wait 20 minutes more but the restaurant was full of fresh fried chicken aroma so I didn’t mind. I was given complimentary dates and water.

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The fried chicken I ordered was spicy and tasted really good, they have a sauce station where you can grab mayonnaise, ketchup, salsa as much as you like. I loved their salsa. It paired amazingly well with the fried chicken. Also ordered the spicy grilled chicken which was a surprise because it was superb. The flavors, tenderness of chicken and the glaze on top with that perfect charred flavor was outstanding. Loved it! I highly recommend you try their grilled chicken.

Next came the Monster burger which was actually a monster. Layered with a crunchy hashbrown and a chicken patty, this burger was pretty good. The only thing missing was a tangy sauce inside, so I slathered salsa inside and munched on this beauty 😉

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For dessert, we got the chocolate brownie with vanilla icecream that was gorgeous! you can never go wrong with this combination. Absolutely loved it. Thank you for hosting me Team Chicken Cottage.

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Chicken Cottage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buttermilk fried chicken experts in Dubai

I am an absolute fan of succulent and crispy buttermilk fried chicken and while roaming around city walk in Dubai, I happen to find this place “Clinton street bakers” who are actually located in a less crowded kinda dark alley with decent vibes, the restaurant interior is really pleasing, gorgeous comfy chairs and candle light feels.

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I instantly ordered their best seller chicken and waffle that is also on their breakfast menu, I also ordered a fried chicken salad and toddler’s meal; mac and cheese

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The food arrived so quickly, first up- my toddler’s mac and cheese was amazing. They made it with precision and added extra cheese for the child. It made me so happy. My chicken and waffles were oh-so-good! the portion size was way too much for one person, I suggest you share it between two people with large appetite. What I loved most about this dish was the waffles that were extra fluffy and melt in mouth, i wish there was a buffalo sauce to accompany this dish which would have made it even more amazing.

Fried chicken salad was top notch. The fried chicken strips in there were super crispy yet not heavily battered. I enjoyed my dining experience here and I would recommend you to have the chicken and waffles here 🙂

 

Clinton Street Baking Company - CITY WALK Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fusion menu launch at My Govindas

Adapting to the latest culinary trends and innovations, My govindas promises to take their guests on a culinary journey based on sattvic food but fails miserably in terms of flavors and combination of dishes. Their motto is healthy and holistic food that pleases the body, mind and soul but all this process begins when you take that first bite of food and if your taste buds don’t accept it, how will it ever reach the “body, mind and soul”? You may disagree with me but the only way to evaluate that is to try their menu yourself.

The service was pretty amazing provided that it was a full house including the food bloggers and other customers. The staff were on their toes, rushing in and out of the kitchen to serve the guests and it was so evident that they were flustered.

Beginnings:

We were served a welcome pani puri shot that tasted pretty nice. Then came the lemon ginger drink that was not as strong as I thought it would be but it wasn’t that bad.

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Lemon ginger drink
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Pani puri shot

Smoked angara paneer tikka:

The smoked angara paneer tikka came with a bang. It was smoking hot and tasted pretty nice. The charred capsicum was really adding to the flavor in general and the dish was ordered again.

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smoked angara paneer tikka

Spicy Thai cigars:

These were hands down the best item on their menu. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we thoroughly enjoyed these cigars, they were loaded with creamy cheese filling and tiny bits of capsicum. We remember ordering it frequently.

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Spicy Thai Cigars

Kidney bean kebabs:

I did not find these kebabs amusing at all since they were dry and bland. I could only taste cumin in it and rest was just blurred. I think it would be better if they add some more spices in it. I paired it with some pickle that was on the table and they became better afterwards.

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Kidney bean kebabs

Fondue Sizzler:

The fondue sizzler was an interesting concept and I liked it! It was basically panner with vegetables on a sizzler plate that came along with cheese and another dip (that wasn’t very pleasing) So I dipped paneer in cheese and it tasted good. I loved the grilled vegetables on that sizzler plate.

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Fondue sizzler
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cheese dip

Avocado naan toast:

So there was a basket with naan chopped into tiny squares and a buttery tomato sauce to have it with. Also fresh guacamole, tomato and green chili salsa and plain yogurt accompanied this dish. I felt the naan was a little dry and could use some clarified butter. The portion size was too small.

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I would like to thank Team MyGovinda’s for their enormous love and this wonderful opportunity for food bloggers to eat under one roof and understand their concept behind the new fusion-contemporary menu.

 
My Govinda's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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