Located on the 15th floor of the South Tower of Emirates Financial Towers in DIFC, Mint Leaf of London is quite a find… if you put in the effort. As is becoming an all too common fixture of Dubai dining, it’s often difficult to know that a particular restaurant exists, unless you know exactly where to look.
From the outside of the monolithic office block there’s no indication of Mint Leaf’s existence, and even once inside, it’s a bit of a gamble to find your way up to the restaurant (access is through the elevators to your immediate right upon entering the South Tower). Once you arrive it’s all worth it, as one of the best views of the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai await guests, through Mint Leaf’s floor to ceiling windows.
Uncommon for an Indian restaurant, the decor is restrained. Opting for a classy space that feels part fine-dining and part upmarket nightclub, with only the slightest hints of India presented via henna-inspired wooden carvings that envelop the dining room. Mint Leaf’s seamless transition from lounge to restaurant is immediately appealing, and being circular in design, offers spectacular views of the downtown skyline from wherever you may be seated.
With space for 250 covers, Mint Leaf in Dubai marks the first international outpost of the Signature London brand, which opened in Haymarket back in 2003, with an additional branch soon following in the city. Dubai is renowned for its plethora of Indian dining options and despite the trend for molecular gastronomy gaining momentum, Mint Leaf has (thankfully) chosen to stick with a fine dining approach, offering authentic dishes packed full of bold flavours.
While Mint Leaf may not be the newest of restaurants, they do have a new Executive Chef in the form of Pradeep Khullar. Chef Khullar brings his charisma and innovative cookery techniques to Mint Leaf and has crafted an entirely new menu in the process. All meals begin with the complimentary amuse-bouche of Wasabi Poori which acts as a bold precursor to the meal and may in fact, be our favourite dish. An alternative take on the traditional Indian street food snack pani puri, here the puri is filled with wasabi flavoured yoghurt, green peas and pomegranate. Consumed in one go (after some smokey theatrics), the thick mixture offers a slight burst of wasabi to open up the taste buds before the Indian culinary journey begins.
Khullar’s Crisp Greens, Avocado & Mango Salsa is the dish most likely to divide diners, for its playful use of temperature and texture. It’s a cold starter presenting fried shisho leaf, avocado and mango salsa, over a bed of dhokla. When we said cold, we mean COLD! For the dhokla is frozen (using liquid nitrogen we believe) and represents a dish that defies perception and one that has to be eaten to appreciatedprecoated. Granted it may not be for everyone (we loved it), but it’s a testament to Khullar’s innovation and his abilities to push the boundries of his cuisine.
Next to arrive were the Lamb Chops, marinated in mustard oil and fresh herbs, before being topped with sugar and roasted in the tandoor. The texture of the meat and the flavours provided, were enough to ensure it was the dish we were all talking about on the drive back to Abu Dhabi. While the idea of a
While the idea of a Duck Seekh Kabab is certainly a novel one, it’s probably the dish that resonated with us the least. Using minced duck meat, again cooked in the tandoor, and served with a goats cheese and plum mousse. It’s certainly an ambitious choice but one that seemed to get lost amongst the prominent flavours of everything else at the table.
If you’ve dined with Khullar before, you’ll likely remember palette cleansers displayed in miniature pressure cookers. Here the idea remains – albeit without the gimmicky presentation – in the form of Mango, Lychee and Basil Chuski. These ice lollies are a masterful blend of fruity flavours that work as a way to cleanse the palette in preparation for the main course and are far more fun than eating your standard sorbet.
Khullar’s strength has always been his consistency. He’s a Chef that understands the diners needs and maintains a high level of quality throughout the dining experience. With so many restaurants putting so much emphasis on the appetisers – they are the first impression so to speak – the main courses can sometimes feel neglected. This is not the case at Mint Leaf and we were treated to a veritable feast of curries, rice and bread, each better than the next.
The Chicken Chettinad hailing from India’s Southern Region uses a unique spice mix and chicken thigh pieces to create a flavoursome curry dish. While the Crumb Fried Snapper is served over cous cous pilaf and drizzled with a homely Mangalorean curry. The star of the main courses had to be the Lamb Shank, due to a beautiful cinnamon and chilli glaze that manages to strike a discreet balance between sweet and savoury. The meat is cooked for four hours, adorned with a gold leaf garnish and literally falls off the bone. The shank may be good, but the stock-based sauce of saffron, red chilli and cinnamon is better and we had to ask for extra naan to ensure that none of it went to waste. We were also pleased to note that Khullar’s Dal Makhani (honestly the best in Dubai) is also available at Mint Leaf.
Chef Khullar knows us well enough by now to understand that we’re not the biggest fans of Indian desserts (for us they’re too milky and too sweet) so we were excited to see some more eclectic choices on the new menu. The Lotus Mess takes the traditional British dessert of Eaton Mess and turns it on it’s head, removing the cream and strawberries and replacing them with ice cream, warm lotus caramel and biscuits. It feels like Khullar has taken the infamous Treacle Tart and refined it into a smaller and stronger dessert.
A unique take on Rasmalai is heightened via the addition of a Soan Papdi foam and despite the combination of rose, saffron and pistachio, it’s the cardamom that’s the predominant flavour.
Rasmalai will never really be the dessert for us, but the PB&C is something that we would highly recommend. Khullar’s take on the Snickers chocolate bar uses a caramel ice cream glazed in Valrhona ganache and topped with a peanut nougat. Despite the ingredients list, it’s a surprisingly light dessert and one that shows Mint Leaf is about more than just Indian Cuisine, drawing culinary inspiration from all over the globe. A post-dinner digestif is a clever way to leave a lasting impression via the use of a rose-shaped paan-infused chocolate.
With attentive service, strong food and a unique selection of cocktails. Mint Leaf may be ‘old’ in terms of the Dubai dining scene, but is a restaurant that shouldn’t be overlooked. We would certainly return again for the food but also the bar. Sipping on a Peach Julep (served in a copper cup encrusted with ice) or a Golden Lady (mixing elderflower and gold dust into one mesmerising concoction) while watching the illuminations upon the world’s tallest building is certainly a memorable way to spend an evening in Dubai.
Chef Khullar you’ve done it again!
Location: Level 15, South Tower, Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 12pm – 1am (1pm – 1am on weekends)
Phone: 04 550 9171
We were invited to dine at Mint Leaf Of London. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Additional interior images used courtesy of Mint Leaf Of London.