Have you visited Dubai Design District (d3) yet? A creative hub situated close to Downtown Dubai and designed to nurture emerging local talents and provide a home for the regions creative thinkers. D3 may still be in its infancy but has already become home to an art gallery, unique retails offerings and a number of exciting food and beverage outlets.
We visit on a Friday morning and find Dubai Design District to be a ghost town. With no residential areas in the vicinity and seemingly little pubic transportation options, it reminds us of London’s Canary Wharf on the weekend. The development is modern, a place of sleek lines and polished glass that much like Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, feels like a development of the future. The bohemian nature of the place is immediately evident with sculptures of meek sheep grazing along the concrete pavements.
A focus on independent, health conscious and altogether new concepts for Dubai has led us to Molecule. A restaurant specialising in ‘Bistronomy’, the art of bringing gastronomy to the more casual bistro setting. A term coined in 2004 by food critic Sébastien Demorand who noticed French chefs moving away from the conformity of Michelin starred restaurants and into a phase of experimentation through the use of seasonal ingredients and changing menus.
Innovation is the driving force behind d3 and Molecule certainly fits into the trendy setting as a place where “creators meet and makers eat.” In fact, Molecule may be a little too trendy with it’s barely visible entrance, indicating that you need to be “in the know” to find it. After walking past a number of times, we eventually stumble onto a small patio where foliage abounds and dappled sunlight casts interesting shadows.
We’re greeted by Tony the restaurants manager and a man who represents the very heart of Molecule, flitting between guests like old friends and engaging on a personal level that goes above and beyond the usual formalities one associates with service. For a restaurant that’s been open for little over two weeks, there are no signs of weakness or initial teething issues.
Texture is THE word summarise our overall experience at Molecule. From the composition of the food, to the intricate work displayed throughout the restaurants embossed walls and curved ceilings, Molecule feels like a living breathing organism and an intimate one at that. With capacity for only 55 diners, it’s a refreshing change from the cavernous dining rooms that have been popping up all over town in recent months. Molecule’s back wall is a gallery space, changing every three months to showcase the works of regional talents. The current display ‘Locals Only’ is a piece by Iranian artist Amir H. Fallah that draws inspiration from the souks of Old Dubai via a weaving of shisha pipes and other cultural references.
Molecule’s food is presented on a concise menu of little description and comes to us from Executive Chef Udo Moreau. We found the food to be exceptional, with each plate crafted with intense precision.
We begin with Aubergine, sliced lengthways and topped with cool labneh and pomegranate. It’s a remarkable plate in which the creamy labneh cuts through the sweetness of the pomegranate molasses to bring body to the plate. Presentation is impeccable with each dish presented as if it’s destined for one of the gallery walls.
The Famous Burrata arrives amidst aubergine, courgette, tomato and basil enhancements and is an absolute delight to eat. As huge fans of burrata, it’s without a doubt the most perfect we’ve sampled and has a creamy texture beyond comparison. Tiger Prawns with ginger and chilli are an altogether simpler dish and represents Chef Moreau’s intricate balance of flavour profiles. The signature Molecule Salad combines rolled carrots with celeriac, fennel, chicory and baby gem. Appearing as an edible garden, it’s an elevated interpretation of a salad with a nutty hazelnut-almond dressing and tomato-oregano crisps.
Main courses continue to impress with a tender Lamb Rack of roasted sage and garlic that caramelises slightly, adding an unprecedented sweetness to the meat. Chicken stuffed with labneh, parsley and coriander is also of note, as is the Fregola Sarda Authentic Carbonara. As the name suggests, this carbonara replaces the usual spaghetti with the Sardinian fregola, a pasta of rolled balls that was a first for us.
Consistency is key and the quality prevails throughout the menu and into the dessert course. With a French Executive Chef and a menu inspired by French cuisine we expect the Eclairs, Opera, Paris Brest and Mille Feuille to be exceptional. We however, opt for the Mysterious Arabica a showstopper of a dessert that encases chocolate ganache, confit pear and Arabica ice cream. A warm chocolate sauce is poured on top to melt through the ‘lid’ and blend in seamless perfection with the other components.
Molecule marks a welcome addition to the Dubai dining scene and a perfect fit for its d3 location. The casual nature is a definite draw, as is the alcohol license (other d3 venues such as The Lighthouse are currently dry) and with the potential for not only afternoon tea but a Friday Brunch on the cards. Molecule is one venue that we’re looking forward to returning too.
We were invited to dine at Molecule. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.