In trying to find Dar Wasl Mall, I took three wrong turns, second-guessed its whereabouts about 13 times, checked with my dining partner twice, and inevitably ended up outside Box Park at a bus stop, 15 minutes late. After checking my phone, and receiving confirmation from said dining partner, all I had to do was look in my rear-view mirror to see that I'd actually arrived – and driven past it twice.
Such is the seeming anonymity of Dar Wasl, nonetheless found on busy Al Wasl Road in the heart of Dubai’s Jumeirah district.
Opened in 2017, it’s a regal building – but also found in close proximity to the likes of Box Park, City Walk, Galleria Mall, and plenty other stand-alone eateries, meaning it faces stiff competition for foot traffic.
That’s probably why you’ll often enter the light, airy confines of Nourish, inside Dar Wasl Mall, and never have trouble finding a seat. That shouldn’t be the case.
Nourish is the brainchild of two Emirati cousins, born and raised in Jumeirah. In what's fast becoming a burgeoning niche market, the restaurant has set its sights on "clean eating", but is aiming a little higher in wanting to be the first holistic clean-eating concept in Dubai. It's a lofty goal, but Nourish seems well-equipped.
All its food is butter and refined sugar-free, and all the nuts, seeds and grains used in cooking are activated, which means they are soaked in water and salt, and dehydrated to increase their nutritional value.
They’re also attempting to appeal to the freelancing business crowd – complete with power-points at every table.
With South African chef Julie Watson at the helm, everything in the kitchen is made from scratch: from fermenting mustards, tabasco and ketchup, to culturing vegetables, kneading its own unbleached, stone- ground flour bread, to whipping up takeaway treats such as protein balls and cookies.
Surprisingly, this doesn’t translate to hideously expensive. The menu is full of decadent options, which really aren’t so decadent upon closer inspection. At breakfast time on a weekday, we’re the only table perusing the menu – which is both refreshing and unnerving. On the merits of its low prices and health-conscious values alone, elsewhere in the city would be packed full of lycra-clad patrons.
The classic waffle (Dh36) is drizzled with hazelnut butter, 80 per cent Valrhona dark chocolate sauce and grilled banana, while the pancake stack (Dh38) is topped with macerated assorted berries, orange blossom, pistachio and maple syrup. I remind myself it's "healthy" as I mop up every inch of sauce.
The unassuming homemade granola (Dh26) is the standout dish. Just when you think the molten chocolate lurking amid the activated tree nuts and seeds, oat flakes and cranberries is where the chefs are playing a joke on you – we're told its more 80 per cent Valrhona dark chocolate, which is good for you. The spiced infused whole milk served hot, throws us for a second – but once added, creates a warming, slightly chocolatey dish one might expect at Christmas in a colder part of the world.
If you're more partial to a savoury breakfast, egg dishes abound. The avocado on toast with egg (Dh44) is given a much-needed twist with Kalamata olive tapenade, mushroom saute and a three-egg scramble. The teriyaki beef brisket bowl (Dh41) is a hearty mound of saucy meat, layered over potato with zaatar and a medley of vegetables, topped with cashew mayo and a soft-boiled egg, which delivers soft yolk across the dish when pierced. And let's not forget the coffee, Nourish also works with farmers who maintain sustainable practices in sourcing their single origin specialty coffees and cold brew. The flat white (Dh18) is as strong and unfluffed as an Antipodean would expect in a coffee shop at home.
Nourish is in Dar Wasl Mall and is open from 8am-11pm daily (Fridays until 12am). Go to www.nourishme.ae