First look: Balkan restaurant 21grams opens in Meyan Mall

Overlooking Burj Al Arab, the 80-seater restaurant is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

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Since it opened in 2018, 21grams has made a name for itself as a people-led, community-friendly restaurant serving the best food from the Balkans in Dubai.

Its Croatian founder Stasha Toncev firmly believes “conversation adds a nice touch to a meal” and encourages guests to interact with the chefs and others members of staff who “can tell you some fascinating stories and histories of the dishes on your plate”.

On January 7, the restaurant opened in a new location in Meyan Mall, overlooking Burj Al Arab.

The location

“Our first home centred around community and family, which is why we chose to stay in the neighbourhood, to build on 21grams’ original, founding spirit," says Toncev.

The name is a reference to a 1907 experiment that suggested the weight of the human soul is 21 grams, which is why Toncev says "we wanted to offer our ever-growing community of ‘soulful’ food lovers a new space with increased seating capacity, plus stunning views of the Dubai skyline stretching from Burj Khalifa to Burj Al Arab”.

The new location seats 80 (as opposed to the Jumeirah Beach Road branch’s 30-strong seating capacity) and has a rooftop terrace.

“21grams will stay true to its friendly local ethos, and the core aesthetic will remain attuned to gentle tones, a calming atmosphere and warm interiors, inspiring the slow-life manifesto. We also have a cosy dining room, where we will host private gatherings and intimate chef’s tables."

The menu

Food-wise, the team have retained favourites such as the komplet egg with foie gras; the freshly baked phyllo pie filled with spinach, goat's cheese, thyme and honey or spicy pulled beef; and the cevapi, juicy Wagyu beef kebabs with pickled onion, parsley and chilli.

New to the menu are dishes such as the busara grilled prawns in a seafood bisque with feta cheese; the barley risotto with cepes mushrooms; and the kashaval cheese with beef jus, truffle and foie gras snow.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Toncev’s top recommendation for early risers is the polenta, which she describes as “a hug in a bowl, made of corn flour porridge with lacto-fermented corn, asparagus and topped with a poached egg”.

Other recommendations include the Dalmation pasticada, a slow-cooked beef brisket with apples, prunes and sweet spices, which Toncev says is “a traditional hearty, vibrant Balkan dish”, as well as the creamy orzo corn with kajmak clotted cream and aged cheese.

Updated: January 07, 2022, 7:34 AM