Recently I went on holiday to Dubai and Oman and decided I would take my blogging with me! It was just too difficult not to post about all the delicious halal food I was eating in the Middle-East. So there will be a handful of select blog posts coming soon dedicated to these places.
This post, however is to spread the word about a hot new Tapas restaurant I was invited to in Dubai called Boca. Boca opened a couple of months ago in the Financial district of Dubai, home to many other prestigious restaurants like Zuma and Hakkasan.
There isn’t an abundance of Mediterranean tapas restaurants in Dubai, so the arrival of Boca has been a refreshing change to the food scene. The philosophy of the restaurant is to get customers to share fresh and delicious food inspired by the cuisines of coastal Spain, Italy and France.
The Place: Located in the centre of DIFC, the bright colours of the restaurant are particularly alluring. We walked into a bright and fun space and were immediately drawn to the twinkling fairy lights surrounding the outdoor terrace seating area. Within the central interior of the restaurant were two islands; one serving as a bar where you could watch your cocktails (or in my case mocktails) being carefully mixed and the other was a live cooking area where chefs were busy preparing tasty plates of food. I was also really impressed by the colourful artwork adorning the walls.
The Food: The service at Boca was excellent, we immediately felt relaxed in the warm and casual environment. A waitress quickly came to take our drinks orders. I had the Pina Mash which was a non-alcoholic Pina Colada with additions of chilli, coriander and lime… Refreshing and spicy!
She left us with the menu which features a range of dishes, all meant for sharing. The menu is divided into four sections. The ‘deli’ section containing fresh breads and salads, the ‘original’ section contains well-known small tapas plates, the ‘market’ section are the more substantial plates of food and the ‘finale’ was an exciting assortment of desserts. We were advised to order around three dishes per person.
Our waitress aided us in making some excellent decisions, advising on what plates were particularly seasonal or popular with customers. Usually I am quite limited at Tapas restaurants in the UK with what I can order but luckily all the food at Boca is halal, although they do serve alcohol. One thing that particularly struck me on the menu was how coherently it was designed for customers with dietary requirements. It was clearly marked which dishes contained dairy, nuts, shellfish and which plates were gluten-free. This makes it a perfect restaurant choice for customers with allergies or dietary restrictions. There is also a huge selection of dishes appealing to vegetarians.
From the deli section of the menu, we sampled the straciatella cheese roll. We were under the impression that this might be a bread roll with cheese, but were surprised when a roll of soft cheese presented on a bed of broccolli, tomato, olives and capers arrived, dressed with a light olive oil. The cheese was soft and delicious and the crunchy vegetables made the perfect accompaniment.
We were rather excited about the ‘original’ tapas menu. We had the patatas bravas (of course!), I truly feel that if you can’t get this dish correct at a Tapas restaurant, you are failing. Luckily, I was very impressed by Boca’s patatas. The dish was skillfully deconstructed with crispy golden potato chips, dollops of aioli and spicy bravas sauce.
Next were the fried sweet padron peppers, another hallmark tapas dish native to the Padron area of Northwestern Spain. The peppers were bitesize and tossed in a salt and rosemary mix which made them incredible moreish.
Hanger steak was ordered which came with a snail persillade, chard onions, tomatoes and a balsamic dressing. I’ve never had much of an appetite for slugs but the snails were so well disguised within the dish that I didn’t even realise I had eaten them until the end! The steak was tender and cooked medium, exactly as we had requested.
We debated on which of the many dishes to order from the ‘market’ menu and were eventually convinced by our waitress to try the chicken breast cooked with foie gras, corn and mushrooms. The chicken was juicy even though it was a breast piece and the corn and mushroom mixture came in a foam and as a filling earthy accompaniment. The intensity of the foie gras certainly stood out against the subtler tones of the dish.
I was already rather full from all this food, but knew I had to sample at least one dessert. I’d been seeing so many photos on Instagram and had already decided before reviewing the menu which dessert I had to have. The mascapone creme brulle with raspberry compote and tonka beans was a dish substantial enough for two. The creme brulle was served in a copper mini-pan with a darkened sugar crust and an impressive solid sugar balloon sat on top. It tasted just as good as it looked!
The Price: The meal was reasonably priced for the ambience of the restaurant and the quality of food. On average, you can expect to pay around £50 (Dh 300) per person for 3-4 dishes and a mocktail.
I don’t usually do this, but I really do have to mention the awesome restroom facilities at Boca.. There is fresh moss growing on the walls. This takes organic to a whole new extreme!
The Verdict: Overall, our Boca experience was amazing. The dishes were interesting and authentic, service was brilliant and the ambience was uber cool. I would recommend this restaurant to all Dubai foodies and anyone jetting there on holiday!
(Boca can be found at Gate Village 6, DIFC, Dubai. You can also keep upto date with news and events by following them on Instagram and Twitter @BOCADubai.)