I’ve attended a few masterclasses recently, one of which was the Vogue masterclass under the more than able direction of Chef Gary Robinson, director and executive chef of the acclaimed Conde Nast restaurants, and his chefs.
When one thinks of Vogue, we associate it with all things fashion, lifestyle, luxury, and of course the magazine. Vogue Cafe is the food extension of all these, homed in one of Dubai Mall’s most luxurious stores, Level Shoe District, an area that takes you on a breathtaking walk through thousands of iconic shoe designs.
I was then not only intrigued to see what we would be making, but also how these dishes would incorporate all things fashionable with the food culture of Dubai. Besides that I love masterclasses that are followed by dinner, and who wouldn’t?
I arrived late thanks to getting stuck in traffic and everyone was already in teams in the kitchen downstairs, so I joined the group cooking the mains and we got to work. It wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be down there but it was a frenzy of activity as well as a balancing act of cooking,trying to take pics and trying not to get my sleeves into the food. We were making chicken duxelle with lemon butter sauce and a quinoa trilogy salad and despite the many steps, it’s not as tough to make as it initially seemed.
The aroma from all the food being prepared was enough to make my tummy rumble by the end of the lesson and once everything was cooked, we moved back upstairs to the cafe for dinner.
Thirsty from all our ‘hard work’ in the hot kitchen, I ordered a rose peach smoothie, which I was told is a popular and must try drink. A healthy option, the bright green smoothie had rose, peach and spinach, though the most notable flavour for me, was that of the spinach. I liked it but I liked the fact that I had started my meal off on a healthy note, even more. If I had known what was coming I would have been somewhat less chuffed with myself.
Starters were served next. The spring rolls, buratta, portobello mushrooms cubes and prawn tempura were all excellent starters. If I were forced to choose one from all these, I’d go with the spring rolls filled with four cheeses, pine nuts, zaater, and spinach served with pomegranate molasses. Deliciously crispy with gooey cheese, these were impossible to resist.
However, never one to turn down burrata, I had a small helping which was as silky as I expected, drizzled with a homemade balsamic reduction and basil oil.
The mushroom cubes were a quirky interpretation of the usual stuffed mushrooms, squares of mushrooms coated in a parmesan panko crust with truffle oil, herbs and served with a delicious pesto mayo.
Finally the prawn tempura, crispy prawns served with a sweet chilli sauce. A well executed dish however it didn’t strike me as tempura as much as a heavy batter instead.
For the main course, I ordered the chicken duxelles because I couldn’t leave without tasting the dish that we learnt how to make, and I loved it. Perfectly balanced lemon butter sauce, crunchy quinoa and a juicy chicken breast stuffed with mushroom duxelles, all of which I will be attempting to make at home soon.
Desserts were a treat too.
Chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream, an eclair trilogy, pannacotta with a chocolate lace tuile and finally a vanilla and orange creme brûlée. The mini eclairs were a treat and in three flavours, rose, pistachio and chocolate.
Not such a fan of orange in my creme brûlée, and the pannacotta was not as light as I prefer, but the fondant was good.
Finally, in keeping with the theme of my first drink, I ordered a rose latte to have with dessert. Beautifully presented in layers and it tasted amazing. I was expecting the rose flavour to be either overwhelming or too understated to be noticed, but the balance was exactly as it should be.
The food at Vogue Cafe does not try to be complicated and that’s exactly what I appreciate about it. It’s elegantly presented and each dish is true to the flavours that it promises.
Does the cafe live up to its name? Definitely. Would I go back to sample more of the menu? I’ve already been back.
Thank you Farah and Chef Gary for a fun class and a great dinner!