For 29 years, until its closure last year, Le Classique at Emirates Golf Club was a culinary behemoth in the city. Its crisp white tablecloths and fine French fare made it a true Dubai institution. Replacing such a popular venue was an unenviable task but thus far, Carine is proving totally unfazed by the challenge.
There is some synergy between Carine and its predecessor; Gallic cuisine and quality ingredients remain front and centre of the menu.
However, there is a youthful dynamism to Carine, driven by Chef Izu Ani - whose foundation is, fittingly, in classical French cuisine. The Nigerian-born chef earned his stripes at three-Michelin starred Auberge de L’Ill and has already forged an impressive reputation in Dubai, heading up La Petite Maison, La Serre and Izu Brasserie, which opened in City Walk in 2017.
For him, Carine is a family affair. The restaurant itself is named after Izu’s wife – a number of her favourite dishes feature – while the house olive oil (grown on his own olive grove in Greece) named after his son Theo. That oil, with balsamic and homemade focaccia is a great introduction to Izu’s ideas.
Exciting dishes abound on this menu but there are some definite highlights. Garlic and chilli prawns are taken to another level with a big hit of rosemary and a spicy harissa sauce. It leaves us quickly reaching for more bread and not a drop is left.
The watermelon salad is a revelation of a recommendation from our waiter. Cubes of fresh watermelon are topped with soft feta, almonds, micro greens and a dressing of white balsamic, chilli and oregano. It is utterly harmonious and every mouthful brings a smile as wide as Izu’s olive grove.
A panful of soft gnocchi is pleasantly heavy on tomato, basil and burrata, while the pizza-esque caramelised onion tart and the veal striploin – marinated and grilled on the Josper with honey and mixed herbs – is another accomplished offering.
The best though is the sea bream, cooked and served whole. Lemon gremolata and tomato relish are both great accompaniments but they remain fairly untouched; the beurre blanc sauce is so rich and moreish that nothing else is needed with this buttery, beautiful, bream.
Many of Carine’s desserts share a common theme: they taste almost impossibly light. We are expecting Tiramisu and cheesecake to be a heavy end to the meal but both surprise. The passionfruit cheesecake in particular, a favourite of Carine herself, is intensely fruity, with a thin, crunchy hazelnut base, and fluffy texture.
Le Classique may have left very big shoes to fill but newcomer Carine has already slipped them on comfortably. Emirates Golf Club has a new diamond in the rough.
Three dishes to try
An unexpected gem, this dish genuinely amazed us with its freshness and perfect balance of flavours.
Meaty bream and a luxurious butter sauce – it’s simple but hugely effective. It looks great, too.
Forget everything you know about cheesecake and prepare to never look back after trying this lightweight version.
Where: Emirates Golf Club
Contact: +9714 417 9999