Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Paul's Cafe, Jumeirah Beach Residence

In a nutshell: Reasonably priced, good food but very manic
4/5

After last week's disappointment at Le Pain Quotidien, we decided to give Paul's a try for breakfast over the Eid holiday. We'd been told by friends that it doesn't open until 9 and on arrival a few minutes before then we found it was already filling up outside - seat yourself style since the staff were having their 'pre-onslaught' briefing. Just after 9 the staff flooded out of the doors with each person appearing to have a designated job to do for all the people in their section: hand out cutlery; hand out menus; lay out paper placemats; and start taking orders. All very efficient but it made me feel a bit stressed watching such feverish activity - a chilled out breakfast this was not!


We all opted for the classic breakfast of a hot drink, orange juice, pastry of choice (chocolate croissant for all of us), bread with jam and an omelette with salad. All of that for just Dhs 49, not a bad deal at all. Within about 15 minutes of ordering, our 'cold' plate was delivered with a very skinny baguette split in half and the chocolate croissant. Just as we picked up our croissants to get stuck in, our omelettes arrived! I asked the waiter if he could bring them after we finished our first plate of food but he said if he put them on the side then they'd go cold. Until then it all seemed to be working like clockwork, but that is a real glitch that we felt needed a rethink. Moving our first plate aside - and the tables are very small so that was quite a balancing act - we had no choice but to have the omelette first.


It would be hard to go wrong with an omelette and this was no exception; it was perfectly fluffy and light. One thing I really like at Paul's is their salad dressing but sadly only one piece of my lettuce had any on it, the rest was just plain so that was a shame. The chocolate croissant was fantastic: soft, squidgy and with just the right amount of chocolate inside. Yummy indeed. Not wanting to miss out on what I'd paid for, I decided to have half the baguette and risk the consequences of eating yeast. Even if I'd wanted to eat the whole thing though, my jaw would have prevented me since just the half I had was a major workout for the teeth and I was actually feeling bruised by the end of it. I prefer a less overdone baguette that remains soft and chewy and I can't honestly imagine that anyone else wouldn't feel the same.


Sitting outside looking out towards the sea is always a great benefit in the winter months but Paul's popularity is also its downfall because as you looked at the growing queue to get in, you just didn't feel you could take your time and really enjoy the experience. From the cafe, it's a 2 minute walk to the shoreline but we were shocked and saddened to find that this stretch of coast has been totally destroyed by all the offshore construction. The beach is no longer made up of its natural sand, it has clearly been trucked in and laid there to combat the effect of the erosion. The drop from the top of the 'beach' down to the sea was almost 45 degrees - really sad when I can remember it being a beautiful gradual normal beach just 5 years ago. The water was magnificent though...azure blue and still warm despite the dropping temperatures. Another time I think I'll buy a take-away breakfast from Paul's and eat it down on the beach so I can really savour that delicious pain au chocolat and soak up the view of the water.

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