Our first visit to The Pointe and we’re a little overwhelmed by the new leisure destination situated on the trunk of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. As in, where did over 100 restaurants, bars and nightlife destinations suddenly spring from? It’s a kinetic environment on the weekend evening we visit and it’s interesting to see such a mix of casual and fine dining restaurants (both licensed and unlicensed) competing with one another against such a picturesque backdrop, with views across the water to the Atlantis.
The evening’s destination is the newly opened A Cappella. A new dining concept from Passion F&B, the team behind popular Indian fine-dining spots Tresind (and its wonderful twelve-seater Studio) and Carnival by Tresind. In all honesty, we struggle to locate the restaurant as we meander beneath the monorail tracks and find little help from the onsite ‘interactive maps.’ After a brief stroll along the waterfront promenade we spot the signage on the upper levels of the development and make our way upstairs.
Based upon our previous experiences at Tresind (and Carnival) we almost expect to find another Indian fine-dining spot but expectations have well and truly been subverted in the creation of A Cappella. The small restaurant space caters to less than 80 covers and comprises of a compact interior and slightly larger terrace. The first thing you’ll notice as you cross the threshold is just how modern and bright the interiors are, thanks to white tiling the travels floor to ceiling, upon which are anchored selected words – cook well, eat good, dine – illuminated in neon lights. More interesting than the instantly appealing interiors, is the operational set-up. For in the middle of the restaurant sits an ‘island’ where restaurant and bar become one. A team of chefs and mixologists work side-by-side concocting innovative cocktails and global tapas, sharing the space as if working in complete unison (or acappella if you will). It’s something we’ve not seen before and we’d encourage diners to take a seat at the u-shaped bar to appreciate the interactivity of the experience where the lines between chef and diner are well and truly blurred.
A Cappella is much more casual than one might expect and the atmosphere is very much welcoming, with diners encouraged to make themselves at home in front of what is no doubt one of Dubai’s most captivating views. Shisha is available (at a more than reasonable AED 45) and the bar is headed up by Carnival alumni Sherine John and Angelo Van. One glance at the passport style menu will make you think ‘how do they do it?’ For the pricing structure across both food and beverage has clearly been leveraged to ensure value for money for diners.
The menu of small plates encapsulates highlights from Europe, Asia and South America with our particular culinary journey beginning in India. No strangers to pani puri it’s remarkable how these guys continue to find new ways to re-invent the popular street food snack. Here at A Cappella we have Pani Puri Champenoise (AED30) where the puri bread is filled with tamarind water and a chickpea and potato mix before the unusual addition of sparkling wine. It’s an innovative dish and one that works to open the palate but we’re not entirely convinced by the flavours. The Tandoori Lamb Chops (AED 45) however, are fantastic! Offering two wonderfully tender chops slathered in a shichimi soy and a miso dip that is beautifully sweet with a slight heat.
Presentation has always been at the forefront of the Passion F&B experience and when Executive Chef Himanshu Saini and Beverage Manager Sherine John are involved, you know you’re in for a real treat. From a Crab Kari (AED55) in which the mud crab and its coconut heavy Malay gravy are served in a small pot upon a sculpted metal crab. To the Tandoori Chicken (AED 50) with its flavoursome tandoor cooked meat presented in a makeshift BBQ. The quirky presentation is not only an Instagrammers dream but plays perfectly into the fun and relaxed atmosphere of the venue.
Having heard such wonderful things from fellow food writers A to Zaatar, The Luxeologist and Pass Me The Dim Sum regarding A Cappella’s sliders (AED 45). An almost impossible to achieve expectation had been set. Fortunately these miniature cheese burgers delivered on all counts thanks to a juicy beef patty, earthy mushroom ketchup and the inclusion of stick fries for texture. We’d also suggest an order of the lobster and truffle heavy Mac and Cheese (AED50) and the Won-Tons (AED 40) which are generously stuffed with prawns and may be recognisable to some from the sixth season menu at sister restaurant Carnival.
Special mention must also be given to the beverages and it’s a testament to the team of mixologist that they’re able to continually come up with such high calibre cocktails time and again. The Chefs Favourite (AED 37) is a concoction of Tanqueray, Amaro, raspberry marmalade and bitters that’s adorned with a taco and is said to be Chef Himanshu’s personal favourite. Served at the table from an actual barrel, the Barrelman (AED 37) is essentially an Old Fashioned with its mix of Jameson, grapefruit and lemon, yet it was the aptly named To The Pointe (AED 37) which transpired to be our personal favourite. Served within a replica camera, the mixture of Absolut, passion fruit, cranberry and rosemary is near-perfect.
What’s most interesting about A Cappella though is how seamless and enjoyable the dining experience is. The unpretentious menu is competitively priced, yet there is no compromise on quality and the concept here offers something different which is no easy feat is such a saturated marketplace. While the sheer abundance of dining options at The Pointe is likely to confuse anyone, we’d suggest making a beeline for A Cappella. Tell Sherine & Angelo we sent you…
Out & About UAE were guests of A Cappella. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.
The Verdict: A Capella