Bleu Blanc is quite like any other restaurant we’ve had the pleasure of visiting in Dubai. From the moment you pass through the sea blue coloured door located on the exterior of the Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai, there’s a real sense of place. Call it a moment of arrival if you will.
Bunches of dried lavender fill metal pots lining the walls, while a glass elevator rises skywards into the restaurant space, a French farmhouse setup that is both chic and charmingly rustic. The space has been designed with precision and offers immediate appeal, from the sleek bar area through to the large open show kitchens. Interactivity is at the fore of the Bleu Blanc experience and it appears nothing has been overlooked when it comes to the design of this particular space. Stunning views of the Dubai Water Canal, check, an Instgrammable feature wall created from a collection of hanging wooden spoons, check. Yet aside from the visual appeal, it’s a unique aroma that really draws diners in.
It may seem unusual to describe the smell of a restaurant, but you see, Bleu Blanc are doing things a little bit differently from the Dubai ‘norm.’ A large wood-fired grill creates a focal point for the restaurant (like the hearth of a farmhouse fireplace), emanating both a comforting warmth and a naturalistic smell from the wood used in creating the flame. Interestingly, elements of every dish at Bleu Blanc utilise the fire in some way, whether that be grilling, baking, or smoking. The fireplace is the heart and soul of this particular restaurant.
Our dining experience at Bleu Blanc revolved around their newly launched Chef’s Table experience known as The Grill Counter. Placing us on raised seats at marble counters directly in front of the open grill. The restaurant may be the brainchild of celebrity Chef David Myers affectionately referred to as the ‘gypsy chef’ (the man responsible for both the casual Italian Basta and hidden speakeasy Poppy, that also hold residence in the Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai). Myers may be absent when we dine, but we’re more than happy to be in the capable hands of Executive Chef Alex Szkaradkiewicz who boasts an infectious personality and a passion for quality ingredients.
Serving up homely plates of modern Provençal cuisine, the food selection is quite remarkable and seated at the makeshift chefs table as the team construct their dishes around us, we’re woven into both the history and process of each individual plate. From the robust pesto ravioli which derives from Szkaradkiewicz’s grandmothers recipe, to lesser known ingredients such as oxtail, used to startling effect in a rich oxtail toast served with pickled onions and spicy cucumber.
The Bleu Blanc Chef’s table is a truly bespoke dining experience that presents highlights from the a la carte menu – broken down into breads, raw, vegetables and wood-fired mains. It’s particularly difficult to pick a favourite, though the luscious Maine lobster in charcoal buns drenched with saffron aioli and the delightfully fresh sturia caviar flatbread are hard to beat.
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I can’t believe it took me so long to visit @bleublanc_dubai. With all the rave reviews it seemed almost impossible this French farmhouse inspired concept could live up to the hype BUT it really does. With simplicity at the core of the Bleu Blanc ethos, the quality ingredients are allowed to shine! Our favourite dish had to be this rich oxtail toast. Leaving us to ask why more places in the UAE don’t have oxtail on the menu? Other than Ting Irie and Miss Lily’s we can’t think of many others…
In each dish it’s the penchant for natural products that sits front and centre and we sit in disbelief at the gargantuan king crab legs cooked in lashings of brown butter and finished simply with a squeeze of lemon, culminating in a dish that speaks volumes about simplicity. While the sourcing of fresh seasonal ingredients has long been a debate on the Dubai dining scene, with quality and food miles often points of contention.Yyet when it comes to Bleu Blanc’s Kelly Oysters (served raw or baked) or the butchers cut ‘bone-in’ ribeye, both deriving from Ireland. The sheer quality speaks for itself.
Consistency is key and watching Chef Alex engage with guests and weave himself into the overall experience is something that works so well in this particular environment, that a Chefs Table seems like the next logical step for an already popular restaurant, lauded by critics and diners alike.
The Grill Counter will be available from September 2018 on a first-come-first-served basis. A bespoke experience starting from AED 350 per person with each sitting accommodating up to six guests.