If you ask anyone living in the UAE, with an interest in food, what the best restaurant is, they will likely respond with one of two answers – Zuma or La Petite Maison.
La Petite Maison has done the unthinkable, having garnered continually strong reviews in the eight years since opening in Dubai’s DIFC, the brand has expanded globally with restaurants in London and Hong Kong, while managing to maintain consistency in both food and service.
The behemoth French fine-dining spot, affectionately referred to as LPM by their legion of fans, fits perfectly amongst French haute couture in The Galleria on Al Maryah Island. It would seem that once you’ve indulged in the Mediterranean menu there is no going back. With whispers of the greatest cheesecake the UAE has ever seen we ventured into the Abu Dhabi outlet one year on from its lauded opening.
Passing over the threshold marked by the unmistakable LPM logo in a passionate red font, our first visit to LPM in the capital coincides with a weekend lunchtime and we are surprised at how busy the restaurant is! While any discussion regarding this particular brand generally revolves around the price points, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ springs to mind, for La Petite Maison is offering a dining experience that is almost unheard of in the region.
The dining room is very fine dining with it’s immaculately pressed tablecloths, glistening silverware and muted colour palate of beige and grey. Yet the restaurant has plenty of character with vibrant artworks bringing pops of colour to the distinctly Parisian space, while the open kitchen stacked high with glass bowls overflowing with peppers, fennel and aubergines, indicative of a constant hub of activity. We would suggest you linger at the bar, for no visit to LPM is complete without trying their Tomatini (AED 70), an interesting cocktail comprising of muddled fresh tomatoes, vodka and white balsamic vinegar finished off with a touch of salt and pepper. The signature cocktail of LPM is not to be missed.
As the home of Cuisine Nicoise, whose origins lie in the blend of French, Mediterranean and Italian cookery, the emphasis at LPM lies firmly on fresh seasonal ingredients. While the hors d’oeuvre section of the menu offers some appealing choices, we’re immediately drawn to the burrata et tomates (AED 105) and the escargots de bourgogne (AED 100). While the snails should be an easy signifier of the quality of any French restaurant, LPM’s interpretation of the gastropods is delightful, stuffing the shells with parmesan and anchovies brings additional subtleties to the flavour of the snail which is further enhanced by the garlic and parsley butter.
The quality of the burrata is of great significance, with the popular Italian cheese coming across as both creamy and buttery and presenting a slight sweetness which is beautifully offset by the acidity of the tomato and the balsamic dressing. The fingerprints of Chef Izu Ani remain and the chef has successfully managed to replicate both this burrata dish and the salads de lentilles vertes (AED 55), a salad of green lentils, apple and fennel, at his latest venture, Carine.
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As food writers we often talk about the balance of flavours and there is no better example than the carpaccio de seriole du Japon (AED 115), a harmonious dish of yellowtail carpaccio with avocado and citrus dressing that is a perfect balance of flavours that is so hard to achieve, especially with such a delicate ingredient.
Chef Izu’s influence shines through in our main courses of cotelettes d’agneau vivienne (AED 240) and loud de mer prepare en croute de sel (AED 290), the lamb dish is of particular note with the grilled lamb cutlets impeccably seasoned and boasting the expected enticing charred flavours. Served with an unassuming but powerful aubergine puree, the textures and flavours of the plate complement each other exceptionally well, especially when combined with the creamy gratin dauphinois (AED 45) that we would have eaten as a main course on it’s own! So good in fact that we asked for the recipe.
LPM’s infamous gateau au fromage blanc (AED 60) is everything you’ve heard and more. A feather light and silky smooth cheesecake that is all about texture and subtleties and within one bite it’s immediately evident why the dish is held in such high regard. Similarly, the mousse au chocolat chard et glace a l’orge (AED 65) makes for another strong choice that has recently been replicated at another French spot, Pierre’s Bar & Bistro. The warm chocolate mousse is decadent and gloriously runny and will likely insatiate the appetite of even the most avid of chocoholics, with the malt ice cream making for the metaphorical icing on the cake.
Our inaugural dining experience at LPM has us instantly converted, leading us to join the aficionados of the LPM brand as if it were some kind of elusive cult. Abu Dhabi is lucky to have a restaurant of this calibre and as one of just a handful of UAE-based fine dining establishments that has the potential to compete on the world stage, LPM should be cherished and applauded. In the competitive F&B scene of 2018 when many restaurants are struggling (and closing) it’s pleasing to see that Abu Dhabi’s LPM has already gained traction with the local crowd and appears to have established a loyal following.
La Petite Maison is a wonderful addition to the upmarket Galleria on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island, perfectly suited to the fine dining enclave home to the likes of Salt Bae’s Nusr Et, Latin American favorite Coya, 99 Sushi, Butcher & Still, Cafe Milano and of course… Zuma.
Out & About UAE were guests of La Petite Maison. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.