This atmospheric slice of France has its own entrance, to the side of the main lobby of the hotel – but the art deco black and white sign gives only a hint of the smart Parisian style lurking beyond the door.
Painted wood and red leather, cute chandeliers and classic candelabras give old school warmth to the restaurant, while there’s something of a private members club feel to the generous bar area.
The spacious nature of the La Résidence may come as something of a surprise, but the food shouldn’t. For this is the latest baby from acclaimed Michelin-starred chef Frédéric Vardon.
La Résidence is inspired by and possesses much of the authenticity of a plush Paris brasserie – right down to the smart black and white dress code of the efficient and explanation-ready waiting staff - and it backs that up with a menu offering classic French cuisine with one eye on modern expectations. Likes its environment, the food manages that rare trick of creative cool with timeless elegance.
Part of that comes from the music – slick recorded tunes were flowing when we visited but both DJs and live performances are on the sonic menu.
But we didn’t come for that. This time.
After years of living in the UK, with the benefit of being able to visit France frequently and easily, it was good to see Vardon’s menu extracting many of his nation’s gastronomic highlights, crisscrossing the regions with crowd-pleasing starters such as Landes Duck Fois Gras and 'Parisienne' Style King Crab and mains such as Farm Fillet of Veal, Beef Tartare and Duck with Turnips, with seafood taking in fresh oysters, Sea Bass, John Dory and Casier Thermidor's Blue Lobster.
Tough choices made, a scene-setting Grand Marnier-powered Lapostolle 1880 cocktail suited the seductive surroundings as the slick but unobtrusive, well-sourced tunes filled the air.
Most of that swiftly faded into the background once the starters (note, not ‘appetisers’) arrived.
The Chilled Velvety Green Pea Soup could have been modern art, the striking colours against the pure white of the dish demanding more than a glance before tucking in.
The combination of sweet and refreshing pea with the creaminess of the goat curd in the centre, crowned by a small nest of herbs, leaves, peas and beans, made for glorious textures and a dish that was refreshing yet elegant.
The rich mix of moist mushrooms and a flaky pastry case gave the Burgundy Snails a home-cooked country feel, not least when the earthiness of the blend kicked in.
Not previously the greatest fan of one of France’s most famous culinary creatures, this delicious and generous plate with its comforting, binding sauce won over these taste buds.
And La Résidence is clearly as adept with both land and sea.
A Sea Bass Grenobloise featured a well-nourished, perfectly cooked fillet on a bed of tiny croutons and green and white Swiss chard.
Again, presentation won the eye, and textures pleased the mouth in a combination blessed with saltiness, zest and buttery moistness that sides of French beans, seasonal vegetables and that pot of incredibly velvety mashed potato cried out to join.
The Milk-fed Lamb had much to beat, but on tenderness, meat colour and slightly crispy skin alone it was winning over this side of the table.
Picture perfect with a half dial of citrus fruit segments, the lamb picked up the spicy and tangy sauce without being overpowered. Likewise when the stuffed piquillous pepper, served on its own tiny plate, joined the party. Add to it all a glass of Burgogne and here was a triumphant helping.
Such a feast called for something light from the dessert menu. La Résidence keeps the options limited, but fun, including a delicate Vacherin. This eye-catching square of meringue and sorbet, with raspberry and lime, was the ideal palate cleanser meets treat to close dinner.
That said, the Baba with spicy lemon yuzu (an East Asian citrus fruit hybrid) may not have been so light on the calories, but with its sponge texture and smooth ice cream - and a shot of espresso to wash it down – helped sum up this venue’s vibe of modern decadence, cool sophistication, and smart but easy charm.
This multi-faceted venue, restaurant, bar and lounge, has set out to draw an eclectic clientele with a taste for great food in a warm and seductive setting.
Based on this experience, it is mission accomplished.
DETAILS: La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge, Raffles Dubai
04 396 2211