French eatery La Petite Maison, located at The Galleria on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi and Gate Village 8 at Dubai International Financial Centre, is serving a four-course iftar during Ramadan. This comprises a welcome drink, dates and soup, four starters, one main course and one dessert, followed by tea or coffee.
What to expect and where to sit
For all its French fine-dining reputation, the Abu Dhabi space is disarmingly informal. A bunch of cheery chefs work the open-plan salad bar, while the walls are filled with colourful abstract artworks. The quirky saucepans you’ll see hanging about are designed by Nice artist Max Cartier.
The Galleria venue is packed when we visit on a Tuesday evening for a preview of the menu, with more than 90 per cent of the patrons in national dress. The few I chat to say they are looking forward to La Petite Maison Abu Dhabi's first set iftar menu this year, so expect a buzzing vibe as you break your fast here. The tables for groups of twos and threes are quite close to one another, and can feel crowded once the four-dish selection of starters arrives.
Preceding the appetisers is a welcome drink, soup and a pair of Kholas dates. Artistic mocktails are a speciality of iftar and suhoor menus, and the one here is a creative combination of mamri tea leaves infused with vanilla, pomegranate, lemon and eucalyptus. It makes for lip-smackable sips, as does the hearty green pea broth with a feta cheese centre, served with crunchy crouton bits in cappuccino cups.
This is my first taste of the green lentil salad that has been the global LPM chain's signature starter for more than a decade. I ruefully start to tell my dining partner why I've shied away from dals for my entire adult life, taking a tentative first bite, and then a second and then a third and … excuse me, I can't talk with my mouth full. It's like the chef has soaked each individual kernel in warm butter (he hasn't) and found perfectly sweet French pink apples to combine them with (he has).
The other three starters are a cool and minty quinoa salad; tangy pepper and orange-infused slivers of fatty tuna carpaccio; and deep-fried baby squid akin to calamari popcorn, which doesn’t particularly taste of anything, but that you can’t stop munching on anyway.
Mains are a choice of a vegetarian arrabiata pasta, grilled sirloin, roast baby chicken, tiger prawns and lamb cutlets; we opt for the last two on the chef's recommendation. The prawns are grilled in their shells with a dash of olive oil. The dish is sprinkled with only enough chilli that it does not take away from the succulent taste of the flesh, and yet is not bland.
I can spot the lamb cutlets on nearly every table, and am happy to recommend that the two juicy, tender and flavourful Mulwarra chops, cooked medium-rare to medium, be the main course of choice for every meat eater at this iftar.
Other than the lentil salad and lamb cutlets, my taste buds were in a tizzy over the fromage frais cheesecake, which is one of three dessert options.
The pistachio cake was a bit too dense, but came with a lovely honey ice cream and will appeal to seekers of sesame, while the mousse my partner opted for is a no-brainer for chocolate lovers.
Back to that cheesecake, though. Do you know how the crunchy base always finishes first? That happened with this one as well but, for once, I didn’t exchange my plate with my partner’s nor look to the raspberry coulis it came with. The cream is the real star of this frothy, flavourful creation that’s infused with just the right amount of vanilla.
A chat with the chef
Head chef Rifky Mohamed Sadhakathullah from Sri Lanka has lived in the UAE for more than 15 years, and was part of the opening team of LPM Abu Dhabi in 2017. Previously, he’s worked at H Hotel, Margaux by Alain Ducasse and the original Cove Beach at Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
“This iftar has been designed keeping both international and Arabic tastes in mind, as well as light and heavy appetites,” he says. “For example, the green pea soup is on the menu because we like to incorporate seasonal produce from France, while the feta is to give it a slightly Arabic twist. The same goes for the pistachio cake and honey ice cream being listed along with a classic mousse and signature cheesecake.
“Most people who are breaking their fast tend to eat light during iftar time, which is why many may not choose a main course at all, but for those who want it, it’s there,” he adds.
Value for money and contact information
The iftar menu costs Dh240 at La Petite Maison in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which is pricier than most others. You will also have to pay an additional Dh30 for any side dishes you opt for, from a choice of broccolini, green beans or fried potatoes. To put this into context, though, the pasta is Dh100, the lamb upward of Dh200 and the cheesecake is Dh65 on the regular menu, while each of the sides are Dh45, so it’s still a steal deal if you count the multiple starters.
For reservations, call La Petite Maison Abu Dhabi on 02 692 9600 and LPM Dubai on 04 439 0505.=
This iftar was reviewed at the invitation of the restaurant