18 Jun 2019 AT 11:04 AM

Reviewed: Tasca by Jose Avillez

A Portuguese Michelin-starred experience with intriguing bites
18 Jun 2019 AT 11:04 AM

Foie gras that tastes sweet, tender chicken with better texture than a steak, wagyu tartare in an ice cream cone – what in the world has Tasca done to these fine dining favourites? Believe it or not, this Michelin-star restaurant from José Avillez makes each dish exude creativity and excitement, and we can’t get enough of the flavour-packed bites.

Set in the lush Mandarin Oriental, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and Dubai’s twinkling skyline, Tasca is an upscale restaurant by design, despite its name translating to tavern. It certainly doesn’t look like one when we enter, especially when the welcoming staff lead us to an al fresco spot right by an infinity pool (best used for daytime relaxation). We settle in and are shown the top picks from a menu filled with tapas-style dishes. It’s a touch on the pricey side, but for what we order, it’s definitely one of the more affordable fine dining experiences in the city. That puts a smile on our face.

Tucking into the first set of dishes increases the length of our grin with the foie gras the most interesting. Cotton candy on duck liver? Sounds insane, but it works well, while the wagyu tartare cones with truffle are creamy and rich. We gobble them up, and it’s not long until the rest of our dishes arrive, including a tasty small platter of “Pica Pau” pan-fried wagyu cutlets, which are perfectly spiced, and soft piri piri chicken ( a favourite), along with a hefty helping of cheesy rice and tender veal that we can’t get enough of. Portions aren’t massive (think more quality than quantity), so we recommend getting two to three dishes each. And those specially-crafted mixed drinks? Simply put, delicioso, and we’re given a healthy measure that lasts well into our meal.

With a sweet hazelnut ice cream dessert to finish, we can safely say contemporary dining doesn’t get much better than this.

Three to try
Creamy rice tender veal

Exactly what it says on the tin, except strangely more enjoyable than it sounds. A must-have.

Foie gras
Unless you’re craving something savory with no surprises, this sweet foie gras is an unexpected delight.

Piri piri chicken
Beautifully cooked chicken slices with crispy skin and a hint of spice. Couple it with the smoked avocado cream side and we have ourselves a winner.

When: Daily, 12.30pm-3.30pm and 6.30pm-11.30pm
Where: Mandarin Oriental
Contact: +971 4 777 2231