Girl and the Goose review: Dubai supper club delivers eclectic taste of Central America

Nicaraguan chef Gabriela Chamorro has served 4,000 since launching the pop-up at her home in 2019. She's now ready for a permanent restaurant

The supper club changes menus every two months, but retains its Central American spirit. One Carlo Diaz / The National
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With all the courage I can muster, I book a taxi to Jumeirah Beach Residence on a Saturday night. I live at the other end of town, which means traversing the notorious Hessa Street on a weekend. At night. In heavy traffic.

To add to my woes, a rain shower has just left the roads slightly damp, which does not seem to have stopped throngs of Dubai residents eager for a good night out.

I think about the forthcoming dinner as the driver sighs in every jam. I had heard of the Girl and the Goose through the foodie grapevine – with its reputation almost akin to the city's other stellar supper clubs, Hawkerboi and A Story of Food, which are now fully fledged restaurants.

These dinners are more than just about the food. If you haven't been to a supper club before, imagine going into a stranger's home and dining with people you have never met. So my preparation isn't just about my palate, which has a strong South-East Asian bias, but also my social battery, which can be awfully low for a 27 year old.

The vibe

I'm suddenly on the 41st floor of Rimal 1, part of a multi-building residential complex at the heart of JBR. Chef Gabriela Chamorro opens the door to a dimly lit one-bedroom apartment, preluding the evening with a "warm Nicaraguan hug", just as she promised in a WhatsApp message days earlier.

Her home is shoe-free, she says, already giving guests a slice of her Central American upbringing, which my Filipino mother would also approve of.

I'm immediately treated to a passionfruit welcome drink as I navigate my way to the living area where I join the other guests. There are 10 of us in total, a characteristically small group for a supper club.

The allure of such a dining experience partly lies in this intimate social aspect. And especially in Dubai, where people come from all walks of life, supper clubs are almost like a loose microcosm of bigger spontaneous gatherings.

Before taking our spots at the dining table that's decked with candles, dried flowers and clay pots, our host gives us a short introduction to the contents of the meal and sets some ground rules.

To grease the social wheels further, Chamorro hands us a bowl of random questions – "What's a new skill you want to learn?" or "What's the best advice you have been given?" – to help keep the conversations flowing. We are all strangers after all, and we're just about to sit shoulder-to-shoulder through a five-course dinner.

The food

Supper clubs are like small dinner parties, meaning there's no pressure to choose from an extensive menu. The meal is also set with consideration for food intolerances.

Chamorro's menu takes us through Central America, through flavours she was used to growing up in Nicaragua with her grandmother. A note card briefly explains each of the dishes.

To our surprise, although in true supper club style, Chamorro diverts from the menu and gives us an Indian pani puri to begin with. As a former flight attendant, the Nicaraguan chef is well-traveled and her adventures have shaped her cooking, too. The one-bite dish explodes with punchy and unorthodox flavours. Chamorro uses guacamole, instead of the traditional potatoes and chickpeas, as a filling to incorporate a Latino flair. It's a fitting prelude to the eclectic culinary journey ahead.

Then comes the second dish, los chilotes, or baby corn with lemongrass chilli oil and masala.

"Some of the greatest gifts of Mesoamerica to the world are corn, beans and squash," says Chamorro. Her tales in between dishes make the dinner feel like a cross between anthropology lessons and diary entries. Central American food, after all, is a result of a "marriage between two civilisations: the Spaniards and the indigenous people", she explains.

To modernise the light dish, she serves it in a cold foam format, pairing well with the corn's milky sweet taste. The lemongrass provides a faint citrus taste while the masala slightly tickles my flavour receptors. It's one of my favourite dishes of the night, both in taste and in sentimental value.

A seabass ceviche follows, doused in green pipian, a Mexican sauce made of pureed greens and pumpkin seeds. The lychee sorbet ties the whole dish together in a sweet and tangy bow.

The pace of a supper club can be a bit slower than dining in restaurants. Again, socialising is an important factor, which mostly happens in between courses. A plantain tempura and a dumpling are served next, more for Chamorro's demonstration of culinary depth.

The heaviest dish on the menu is called El Domingero, or prawn guiso with pecorino and yuca gnocchi – another culinary home run, as everyone at the dining table agrees. Both the succulent prawn and the chewy gnocchi are cooked to perfection, with the Pecorino cheese providing a sharp umami hit that lingers.

The only thing missing at this point is a two-minute standing ovation from the happy diners, including myself. Chamorro's warm aura adds to the entire dining experience, and rightfully so, as she is hosting us in her own home.

To end the dinner, a coconut flan is served with a sweet and slightly earthy sauce made of rapadura, a type of unrefined sugar derived from sugar cane juice.

I heard once that the best Asian compliment to a dessert is that it's "not too sweet", and Chamorro's flan falls into this top-notch category. The addition of tangy yuzu pulps helps balance the dessert. I finish the entire thing with the creamy coconut thoroughly cleansing my palate.

Asked how many diners she has served since starting the supper club in 2019, Chamorro says she has lost count.

"Probably around 4,000 people," she adds, saying one of the most fulfilling parts of the journey is the "community that I was able to build".

Soon, just like Hawkerboi and A Story About Food, which later became known as Kinoya, Girl and the Goose will transform into an actual restaurant, fulfilling Chamorro's vision of putting Central American cuisine onto the gastronomic map.

She plans to continue honouring her Nicaraguan heritage, modernising "timeless recipes without compromising on tradition".

Given the popularity of other Latino cuisines such as Peruvian and Mexican, I ask Chamorro to describe what makes Nicaraguan food different.

"It is less spicy than Peruvian, and more vibrant than Mexican," she says.

It's a bold claim, but based on the dinner I just had, she couldn't have been more accurate. I'm glad I conquered the traffic.

The next available Girl and the Goose meal is on March 9, from 7.30pm; Dh375 per person. More information is available at

Updated: March 01, 2024, 8:33 AM