La Petite Maison Review date: August 9, 2015
Dubai lies 2,968 miles east of Nice, but stepping inside La Petite Maison from the 45 degree heat outside takes you there in a heartbeat. Past large green planters and tables al fresco for cooler months, you enter an elegant square room, a long mirrored bar to one side. The accents from French staff add to the authentic feel, as does the quiet energy and sense of culinary concentration. It all combines to make you hope you’re onto a good thing. You are.
There are plenty of restaurants around the world which promise authenticity, the real deal and exactly what maman/mamma/mamá would make at home. Invariably they don’t even get close, lost in translation, ingredients, fussiness, fusion – or sometimes all four. So it’s especially gratifying to find somewhere genuinely delivering. The evidence? Five faultless plates.
The trilingual menu makes clear reading in any language. No unnecessary spin or over elaborate descriptions – and the same can be said of what they serve. A case in point one of three shared starters, that wonderfully-named Nice classic pissaladière. Incidentally its name comes from peis salat – salted fish – in the Niçard dialect. The onions have not so much been caramelized as turned into an extraordinary confiture, expertly layered on the dough and then studded with tiny slivers of black olive and anchovy. The result? One of the best things I’ve eaten this year.
A burrata (at least in Hong Kong’s humidity) is too often springy like mozzarella or way too milky when run through with a blade. La Petite Maison serve it so it arrives in perfect condition, simply adorned by torn basil and top quality tomatoes.
The third winning starter is an unusual sounding dish of aubergine with pesto, mozzarella, prawns and rocket. It sounds wrong, too busy. It should be wrong. It’s not. It’s the eggplant parmigiana of your dreams, somehow improved further by some garlic fried prawns. Utterly delicious.
Meaty mains are shared with my new dining compadre, lamb cutlets for me, a serious steak for him. Mine are perfectly charred, screaming to be gnawed Captain Caveman style, and lifted by honey underneath and rogue tomatoes for bursts of acid and sharprness. A spoon of eggplant caviar is the perfect foil and a reminder of the splendid country outside the front door.
But in here we remain in France, the room now gently humming, tables full of quiet contentment. That steak is served with two sauces to make you weep tears of Gallic pride:
If you’ve seen a prettier Dauphinois, then send it my way. I doubt it. Again, the spoon falls through it, perfect execution and balance.
To accompany my lamb, a glass of 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the knowledgable young sommelier with a remarkably vertical haircut.
With bread throughout – those sauces don’t mop themselves up – we’re perfectly placed to not touch a small bowl of broccoli, but somehow find room for a vanilla cheesecake. Hurrah.
It was only on looking up the address details to paste below that I saw La Petite Maison was awarded #81 in the ‘world’s 50 best restaurants’ list. Well, 100 best – but you get the idea. It deserves every praise. My new compadre most kindly took care of the check, the menu and prices are at the link below.
Gate Village 08 DIFC, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 (0) 4439 0505 http://www.lpmdubai.ae/