There’s a box-sized Indian restaurant in Glasgow called The Wee Curry Shop. It’s a favourite of my wife and I, and it’s popular with a huge number of Scottish punters, too. So much so, they expanded to the West end of the city and although the food was still great, it wasn’t the same, because sometimes it’s difficult to take a winning formula and apply it elsewhere.
Similarly, Chateau Blanc has built up quite the reputation in Dubai in recent years as masters of making cakes, sweet treats and pastries, so expansion to the west was on the cards.
Opening up shop in Marina Village, there’s already a bit of a buzz around the venue for its 3D cakes alone, but what about the rest of the food? Can the à la carte menu conjure up the same excitement as the signature bakes?
Entering the restaurant, we’re distracted by the incredible pastries and cakes and we’re ready to skip straight to dessert, but that’s not why we’re here.
As we walk into the dining room, it’s hard to imagine a better view as we look out across the water towards Emirates Palace, Etihad Towers and the familiar Abu Dhabi skyline.
Ambiance? Tick. Food? Let’s find out.
To begin, I order the duck bao and my guest chooses the crispy fried prawns, which we decide to share.
The soft pillow-like bao are filled with crisp and succulent shredded duck, cool cucumber and fiery red chilli. They’re surprisingly light and packed full of flavour.
The crispy fried prawns look like a piece of art, exquisitely presented on the plate. The soft seafood is encased in a crunchy kunafa shell and is brought to life by a tangy pineapple salsa and a blisteringly hot pepper sauce that packs quite a punch. It’s delicious.
For the main course, the restaurant’s signature braised beef short rib is a large portion that’s accompanied by gooey fried tomatoes, purple mashed potatoes and grilled corn on the cob. The meat is tender and peppery with a good dose of barbecue sauce and the corn is fresh and delicious, although hard to eat with a knife and fork. The purple potato mash, however, is dense and a little lifeless.
The chicken roulade is a crisp rolled chicken cylinder that’s crunchy on the outside and succulent in the middle, filled with fragrant herbs, while the buttery mustard sauce elevates the dish. The accompanying tenderstem broccoli is ideal for mopping up more of the country gravy but the turkey bacon, although tasty, is getting in the way a little.
By this point, we’re too stuffed for dessert despite insisting we’d leave room for it. So we take a praline cupcake home to enjoy as a late afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
While still in soft opening when we visit, the food is of a top standard and we’re confident Chateau Blanc will only improve as the restaurant settles into its new home. It seems this restaurant’s winning formula works anywhere.
Need to know
Location: Chateau Blanc, Villa B03, Marina Village, behind Marina Mall
We say: More than just cakes
Cost: AED 317 for two
Opening times: Daily 8am-midnight
Contact: 02 626 2651, chateaublanc.ae
WORDS Colin Armstrong