Vibrant Bertin Bistro and Restaurant is able to tick both of those boxes at its prominent location beside the city’s most famous highway.
Following in the family tradition, Bertin helped his grandfather in the local boulangerie, even contributing his own recipes. At 18, the budding baker sought to produce the perfect Pain Perdu (a calorific, superior French toast), inspired by a young Spanish female customer whom he ultimately followed to Andalusia, where he opened his first bistro boulangerie.
When war and his best friend interrupted the course of their romance, Bertin quit Marbella to pursue fresh love in Morocco – and opened his first restaurant, inspired by the tajines he tasted on arrival at his future wife’s family diner.
You'll find it at the distinctive white wavy building over the other side of SZR from Times Square Centre.
The exterior architecture gives very little away, however.
The ground floor serves French bistro-style cuisine in a layout plucked from modern Europe. Open preparation and cooking areas compliment a spacious setting lined with white brick tiles, marble flooring, warm woodwork and seating that is bathed in natural light by day.
Diners can watch the bakers and chefs working behind counters atop display cabinets filled with tempting creations. This clean-cut elegance is backed up by a menu aimed at breakfast, lunch and dinner customers with options ranging from ‘Bertin Eggs Benedict’ and ‘Flammekueche’ (savoury, thin rolled bread dough baked with various toppings) to hearty dishes such as ‘The Six Hours Lamb’ and the now signature ‘Bertin’s Pain Perdu’, freshly-baked with caramel fluer de sel and orangette.
Our visit came on a Friday night in which we swapped the airy sophistication of the lower dining area for the buzzy first floor, alive with chatter and sweet shisha smoke. There’s also an outdoor balcony for the cooler months – accompanied by drinks that include a wholesome raspberry and mint juice among a variety of tasty-sounding concoctions.
The emphasis here is on relaxing with friends and the food allows for sharing, taking in Spanish tapas and ‘Seafood Paella’.
Those tapas dishes work well as shared starters, with plenty of innovation on offer to create a cunning mix of flavours.
The ‘Avocado Hummus’ is listed as a must try and is the missing link between guacamole and the regular Middle Eastern favourite, the green colour drawing you in and the subtle flavour keeping you there. Just as enticing was the ‘Fish Tahini’, the lemony, creamy texture contrasted by chilled slices of meaty white fish. The ‘Croquettes’ of chicken and paprika almost didn’t require their own dip, but the result was another scrummy slip road to the mains.
Across the generous brass dish-like table, the ‘Saffron Chicken’ was as fragrant as it was moist. The marinated chicken breast could almost have triumphed without the accompanying pot of saffron sauce, even with its bed of basmati rice.
All this added up to troubled shirt buttons and some tough choices on the dessert front. Thankfully, that section of the menu is reasonably brief but no less alluring with the likes of chocolate-majoring ‘Black Pyrennes’ jumping off the page.
While the ‘Pain Perdu’ should have been in the bag, something lighter was called for – and ‘Apple Tart’ remains something those Gallic gurus usually excel at.
If this was a barometer for the rest of the desserts then that ‘Pain Perdu’ demands its own sitting.
Generously proportioned on a wooden board, juicy slices of apple glistened with caramel and a dusting of sugar on a rectangle of light pastry. A globe of ice cream melted in the middle, fluxing further a combination that felt slightly less naughty than it probably was.
Walid, MD of the laidback eatery, sums it up nicely: “To express the love of food from three culinary backgrounds, Bertin offers its diners a diverse menu…a dynamic yet calming culinary adventure for the food lovers of Dubai.”
He has a point. you know.
SEE the Bertin Bistro and Restaurant menu in full online at www.bertinbistro.com
FOR reservations, call 04 321 9239
TIMINGS: 8am-10.30pm for the ground floor bakery; noon-2am for the first floor lounge and restaurant.
CHECK out Bertin’s Bistronomy business lunch, a set menu featuring two options: ‘Hand Cut Prime Entrecote with Bertin Sauce’ or ‘Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna’, both with French fries and green salad. Available throughout the week noon-3pm, for 79AED.
FOLLOW Bertin news and offers @bertinbistro