Bistrot Bagatelle is a chain of restaurants, with St Tropez its latest destination (the original is in the Meatpacking District of New York City), but nothing could feel less like a chain than Bagatelle Dubai. This place, in the Fairmont Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, feels like an upscale restaurant in New Orleans circa 1922. The blue-and-white décor with pop art lazing about the walls is absolutely solid – it’s the perfect pitch between flamboyant and classy – it doesn’t shout, it smirks; maybe a tad too smugly. And while the ambience is superb, it pales in comparison to the food, overseen by Bagatelle’s group head chef Nicolas Frézal and Dubai head chef Timothy Newton.
To start, we had the yellow-fin tuna tartare and fried octopus. The tuna tartare was perfectly flavourful, but nothing to write much more about. The octopus was prepared unusually and as both my dining partner and I are big fans of the meaty cephalopod, we were keen to try it. We weren’t disappointed. The crispiness of the octopus during frying loses some of the flavour and plumpness but if you’ve had enough octopus in your life, then this method of preparation is an interesting alternative, which we would definitely order again. For mains, the filet mignon, prepared pan-seared and served with Bordelaise sauce served the perfect combination of herbed crust and tender meat. But the star of the show, beyond anything we’ve tasted in a long time, was the lobster linguine. It’s actually – and I’m a professional writer – hard to describe in enough detail just how good this dish was.
The price tag made our eyes water, but once we’d tasted it, we agreed it was absolutely worth it. The linguine is freshly made and has a heavenly flavour. Good lobster is hard to find in Dubai full stop, as it’s all imported, but it does exist. Forget those other shellfish – the lobster at Bagatelle Dubai is the only one worth eating. It’s a legitimate “must-try” dish. And now, for something completely different… The music at Bistrot Bagatelle is perfect any day of the week: slow, sultry blues and a little old-school jazz mixed in new arrangements. But the music on Saturday… well, in a world full of “specials”, it’s actually special.
The resident band is The Jazz Quarter, a quintet of musicians, each of whom is exceptionally talented. But the frontwoman, the fantastic, fabulously fantabulolus Claudia Patrice, is a sensation who will enrapture jazz lovers. The woman has a 5+ octave range and can she belt out the jazz and swing classics. A pianist, drummer, saxophonist and double bassist round out the band’s sound. Jazz night at Bistrot Bagatelle is every Saturday night, and bookings need to be made well in advance, as it’s completely packed out. If you don’t get a reservation in on time, go along and stand at the bar. It’s the most fun we’ve had in a long time.