UPDATE: This little gem is now closed but the branch in Arabian Ranches is still around.
My first glimpse of Belgium’s beer-loving culture was drinking Lindemans Framboise at Belgian Beer Cafe in Dubai Festival City. I think it was soon after that Namrata and I went on our first Euro trip with our friend Nadia. In addition to gothic architecture in Brussels and the cobblestoned streets, food was a definite highlight. Waffles stands and chocolate shops everywhere. Streets lined with little restaurants serving up a variety of cuisines, both from neighbouring countries but also from as far away as Greece and Thailand. More importantly, I loved that everything moved at a slow, leisurely pace.
It was that same feeling of ease that I was overcome with during my first visit to the recently opened Maison Mathis, a Belgian brasserie located on the ground floor of Dusit Thani hotel, Sheikh Zayed road. Sitting there with the girls one afternoon, sunlight streamed through the windows. We drank numerous cups of coffee, shared a wonderful rosemary tart and fries (sweet and salty is a must), and reminisced about that one glorious European adventure.
Since then, I’ve returned to this Maison Mathis several times; there are three other branches in the UAE that I haven’t been to. It has become my go-to place for everything from a girlfriends catch-up to post-work drinks, date night with my husband, breakfast with friends I haven’t seen in ages, or even a quiet week night dinner. The ambience is relaxed and easy-going. You can rock up in shorts in the day time or dress in your best heels in the evenings; anything goes. I was also told by the owner that kids are most welcome, especially if they are the sort that are happy to play on the floor while mummy and daddy have a quiet drink in the corner. Sweet! Speaking of drink, the restaurant is licensed, open 24-hours, and serves bubbly for breakfast, albeit a late one i.e. noon onwards.
The menu features “European specialties infused with global influences.” You will find salads, sandwiches, tarte flambée, pasta, steak, lamb chops, a few types of fish and other meat-based mains. Honestly, the food is simple and nothing extraordinary but that’s not what brings me back here each time. It’s the no-fuss atmosphere, efficient service, plus it’s not everywhere in Dubai that you can get out of your car and walk straight in to a licensed restaurant or bar without facing long valet lines or navigating hotel lobbies and escalators.
Come evenings, white linen and candle light transforms the space into a romantic little European fine dining style venue. We recently attended a wine pairing dinner where we were taken through five dishes from Western Europe paired with wine from the region. The restaurant holds special events like these every so often, there was even one recently with craft beer pairings which I imagine brew lovers would enjoy. Very reasonably priced too at AED 225 per person. Look them up on Instagram for regular updates. Dessert includes waffles, french toast, pancakes, eclairs and tarts – all homemade, simple and no-fuss.
Before you call it a night, head across the lobby of the hotel to the book shelf and find the one book that opens the door to a secret world. I won’t say more, you’ll have to find out for yourself! Sshhh..
LOCATION – Maison Mathis, Dusit Thani hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road