In less than two years since opening, Carnival by Tresind has successively changed the landscape of Indian fine dining in Dubai with their post-modern take on Indian cuisine.
The beauty of this multi-faceted DIFC venue is that it represents more than just a restaurant. Taking things one step further than sister restaurant Tresind, Carnival gleefully abandons the formal dining approach and throws caution to the wind. Presenting a one of a kind experience and an assault on the senses. One that will play with your perceptions, engulf you in aromas and leave you dizzy from the onslaught of visual spectacle.
The fit out represents one of the most striking in Dubai, featuring eye-catching trees sculpted in metallic bronze. To the the rear of the space is a tunnelled bar made of over 600 Ciroc Vodka bottles, pulsating from radiant blue to iridescent green. The furnishings are a mixture of rainbow colours and help to add to the feeling of pure escapism, accentuated by oversized bird cages and chalkboard walls.
Executive Chef Himanshu Saini works tirelessly to create innovative culinary creations that strike an exciting balance between flavour and presentation. Being good is just not enough and despite a popular menu, Carnival’s concept allows for complete re-invention every few months. Each menu is dubbed as a ‘season’ with themes that range from childhood nostalgia, to suburban eats and la la land. For this fifth season the theme revolves around ‘food inspired by colonial rule’ in an interesting thematic that mixes Indian food with British, French and Portuguese influences. Carnival’s constantly evolving menu is what keeps customers coming back for more.
A tanga (wooden carriage) sets the scene for Carnival’s fifth season and while previous outings to the restaurants have included dishes served inside books and upon ceramic hands, the literal street side chaat cart takes the interactive presentation at Carnival to a whole new level. Inspired by the spice trade and the city of Kolkata, the carriage is home to four variations of the popular street food, chaat. Being Carnival you can expect a twist – think tacos (taco papdi chaat), a liquid nitrogen version (nitro bhel puri), and one that twists the popular dessert rasgulla into street food (pani puri rasgulla).
After an impressive start the pace doesn’t let up and the table-side presentation for which the restaurant is renowned comes to the fore. A familiar face at Carnival, Chef Vinu Raveendran joins us to present the cage, a tandoor cooked lamb ribcage dissected before being topped with saffron and gold flakes. The preparation leads to some undeniably tender meat with the smaller bones purposely left within to be consumed!
Presented within a literal birds nest, the Indo-Chinese chicken Kurkure is a highlight of the new season, coating boneless chicken pieces within a Chinese inspired spice mix before topping the meat with the popular Indian Kurkure corn puffs to bring an additional texture to the dish.
Carnival’s fifth season parades a riveting selection of dishes in a bid to satisfy the tastebuds. The Frying Nemo displays a fried fish fillet and masala fries within a wooden cage, while the double roti dahi kebab is a spiced yogurt empanada sat on top of an artistically plated rocket, walnut and goats cheese salad.
View this post on Instagram
Weekend plans? If you’ve never visited Carnival by Tresind then we suggest you do so now! Season 5 is inspired by colonial rule and takes the modern Indian food of this restaurant in an entirely new direction. We don’t want to spoil all the surprises but don’t miss this Double Roti Dahi Kebab – spiced yogurt empanadas served with a tamarind chutney, and a walnut and pear salad. The team at Carnival have done it again 👏 . . . #CarnivalByTresind #OutAndAboutUAE #MyDubai #InstaDubai #InstaFood #EEEEEATS #GetInMaBelly #BuzzFeast #BuzzFeedFood #f52grams #LoveFood #BeautifulCuisines #FoodAndWine #EatFamous #FeedYourSoul #EatTheWorld #AlwaysHungry #DailyFoodFeed #InstaFood #GetInMaBelly #F52grams #FeedFeed #EatFamous #FoodLover #FoodPhotography #ModernIndian #Colonial #GourmetArtistry #Season5 #MenWithCuisines #Roti #DahiKebab #ArtOfPlating
The aforementioned dishes all derive from the starters section of the menu and are just the tip of the iceberg, with the main courses bringing us a Malai kofta of feta and potato kofta, puffed quinoa and Bengali Malai curry. Viva La Goa represents a dish influenced by the former Portuguese colony of Goa situated on India’s west coast and transpires to be a lamb leg Vindaloo (a popular Goan curry) made with malt vinegar and burnt cinnamon. The Coq au vin Masala integrates red wine into chicken tikka masala in dedication to the classic French chicken dish and the French settlement of Pondicherry on India’s south eastern coast.
Of Carnivals new desserts, their take on the quintessentially British apple tart represents exceptional comfort food with its accompaniments of hazelnut bafi and mascarpone. Elsewhere, the picturesque fruit trifle with pistachio custard and coconut kulfi gives the visual impression of a dainty French mille feuille. It’s only the palang tod milk cake with saffron milk and dates that we struggle to connect with and marks the only misstep in an otherwise near-perfect dining experience.
View this post on Instagram
The brains behind the booze! Meet @sherinejohn.john the man responsible for the magical cocktails at both @carnivalbytresind and @tresinddubai. John possesses a masterful ability to blend unexpected flavours and the inspiration behind his quirky and inventive presentation is completely beyond us! Have you tried the new Season 5 drinks at Carnival yet? Which was your favourite? . . . #CarnivalByTresind #OutAndAboutUAE #MyDubai #InstaDubai #InstaFood #EEEEEATS #GetInMaBelly #BuzzFeast #BuzzFeedFood #BeautifulCuisines #FoodAndWine #EatFamous #EatTheWorld #AlwaysHungry #DailyFoodFeed #InstaFood #GetInMaBelly #F52grams #FeedFeed #EatFamous #FoodLover #FoodPhotography #ModernIndian #Colonial #Cocktails #Mixology #Flamingo #Sling #Innovation #BestCocktails #Bartender
Carnival proudly present their beverages as masterfully as the food and each drink is an interactive art piece. While Chef Himanshu may be the face of the brand, there’s another important character who is a standout, Sherine John the beverage manager. Carnival’s cocktails have become as much a talking point as the food, with season 5 offering a popcorn spritzer served inside an actual popcorn box and topped with the popular snack, the flamingo sling, a take on the popular Singapore Sling served within a ceramic pink flamingo, and the perfect harvest, an infusion of lavender and sweet potato served within a hessian sack. This is the topsy-turvy world known as Carnival after all and with the sheer creativity on display, we can only image what goes into conceptualizing these drinks.
A trip to Carnival remains special on repeat visits and the restaurant has successfully managed to retain the novelty factor because it’s engrained into the very fabric of the concept. Dining at Carnival is an event and leaving behind the wooden carts, drinks in light bulbs, and the metallic copper world, we realize that the carnival may be over, but we’ll be back again!
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of FACT Magazine.
Out & About UAE were guests of Carnival by Tresind. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.