What is this we hear about a new venue that serves nothing but waffles? Our minds raced with excitement, assuming that this was too good to be true. Yet we soon found ourselves amongst the funky shipping containers of Dubai’s BoxPark with a whole lot of expectations.
The concept of BoxPark is something that we have discussed before, but to summarise, BoxPark is a unique addition to the Dubai shopping and dining scene. An outdoor destination with a unique twist, as all the shops are made out of recycled shipping containers, that have been stacked on top of one another and converted into hipster retail units.
From the moment you reach No. 3, diners are transported into a world of vibrant colours, quirky decor and good old fashioned fun. Outside of the venue lies a large snakes and ladders board, complete with larger than life dice and playing pieces – should some boardgames fun take your fancy! This exciting theme of childhood nostalgia continues all the way through into No. 3’s small interior.
The name No. 3 derives from the fact that this is the owners third successful Dubai eatery, a simple explanation, but one that seemingly had little to do with the food or ambiance that it is trying to promote… Saying that, the mysterious name did have us guessing, up to a point where we had to ask the helpful staff for an explanation.
The interior of No.3 is small but the space that has been utilised well. With a very industrial look (to the point that it appears half finished), expect to find scaffolding poles holding up tables and furniture which has been made to look battered and worn. Meanwhile a bright red fire extinguisher sticks out of the floor, which in turn is painted to resembled a zebra crossing. The bright splashes of colour are complemented by walls and tables painted with kites, a payphone and roadsigns featuring camels and other Arabian wildlife species. There is little doubt that this is an interesting space that kids will especially love, adequately reflecting the causal family-friendly dining atmosphere that No. 3 successfully creates.
The only problem here, is that the metal container is surrounded on three sides by large glass windows and despite the air conditioning, it was exceptionally hot during our lunchtime visit. In the cooler months there is the option to sit outside, where large yellow oil barrels have been up-cycled into tables, blending perfect into the bohemian aesthetic of the BoxPark location.
Relaxing at the table, we were able to fully appreciate the sense of fun that the restaurant promotes. Chairs are a mish mash of vibrant blues and yellows, while the gloriously shiny plates follow the same theme of bright colours. Mixed in with a soundtrack of current R&B hits we appreciated the casualness of dining at No. 3.
Service was very friendly and our waitress was chatty and extremely personable, showing an interest in the customers and how we had heard about the “waffles like you’ve never imagined” concept of the store. The menu is predominantly waffle based (waffle hot dog anyone?), but also contains signature breakfast items like French toast, sandwiches and salads. Who wants these items though, when waffles are available!
Everything at No. 3 is most definitely waffle themed, from the waffle pancakes all the way through to waffle fried chicken and the aforementioned waffle hot dogs. While deciding upon exactly which format we would like our waffles, we were presented with our favourite refreshing lemon mint (of the sweet variety) and as expected, it arrived in the seriously over-used mason jar.
Realising there is no such things as “too many waffles” we began with a starter of savoury waffle Kamikaze fries. Expecting these to be unsweetened waffles deep fried, we were admittedly, slightly perturbed to discover that they were in fact just regular potato fries shaped like waffles. The initial disappointment subsided with the first bite. As the crunch of the potato waffle, combined with the creamy Kimchi sauce (cabbage, radish, scallions, red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar and fish) and succulently sweet BBQ ground beef, mixed inside the mouth to create a mild explosion of flavour.
The waffle obsession continued with waffle pockets accompanied by mac and cheese. For us personally, the waffle pockets tasted just like the mozzarella pizzas you used to get from budget supermarkets in the late 80s early 90s (Tesco’s anyone?). A bland mix of tomato and cheese that would make a good choice for children and fussy eaters. Though nostalgic for ourselves, we wished it had packed a little bit more of a punch. The macaroni and cheese on the other hand was a fair interpretation of the classic Southern dish, though also not the best we’ve tasted. The waffle pockets were our least favourite of the items that we sampled.
Next came the classic cheese burger and we were certainly overwhelmed with its arrival. Seriously, who wouldn’t be impressed with a huge glazed waffle as an alternative burger bun? The waffle bun was stuffed with crisp lettuce, chunky tomato slices, Monterey jack cheese and a juicy grilled beef patty. All accompanied by a bowl of crinkle cut fires, another item harking back to childhood nostalgia.
What we appreciated so much about the waffles at No. 3, was that they have a firm exterior, yet are still light and fluffy within. Unlike the waffles that are a staple of UAE hotel breakfast buffets, pre-cooked and left under a heat lamp for hours on end! We are grateful to report that the waffles at No. 3 are made fresh for the perfect result each and every-time.
Despite a good start with the appetisers and main courses, the best thing about No. 3 is most definately the desserts. We devoured the red velvet waffle, beautifully shaped like a heart and adorned with cream cheese, chocolate chips, a single raspberry and drenched in a scattering of hardened white chocolate. The subtle chocolate texture of the red velvet was evident and worked beautifully, in conjunction with the cream cheese filling that is not overly sweet, but oh so fresh.
We didn’t need a second dessert, but being such huge fans of all things Lotus, we most definitely could’t leave without sampling the Lotus waffle (we will ALWAYS order Lotus if it’s offered on any menu). As it turned out, the Lotus waffle was our favourite item of the day. With a caramel Lotus mousse sandwiched between glorious Belgian waffle, drenched in warm Lotus sauce and sprinkled with a Lotus crumb. Lotus overload perhaps? But for us it was utter perfection – a sticky sweet mess that is reason enough to visit No.3.
Fine dining this is not, but for a great dose of comfort food in a fun and quirky ‘urban’ environment, No. 3 has it all. Plus the thematic is sure to keep you kids occupied for hours. During our lunchtime visit, we ate waffles three ways and quite frankly, we couldn’t be happier!
Location: Boxpark, Al Wals Road, Al Safa, Dubai
Hours: 08:00 am – 12:00 am
Phone: 04 437 605
We were invited to this event but all views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.