Keeping things Fraîche

There’s nothing quite like an internet outage to throw you off track in the first few weeks of launch, yet faced with just that, Team TMN had to think fast on our feet. Should we call customer service and wait endlessly for help, or roll up our sleeves and tackle the problem head on? After a brisk team brainstorm, we concluded there was only one thing for it… run for the hills and take refuge in the hottest new (Wifi-enabled) lunch spot in town.

What: Fraîche Café & Bistro, Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Where: Swiss Tower, Cluster Y, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

When: Opening hours are from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week 

The promise: “A modern, yet homely café & bistro delivering fresh, high quality and soul-satisfying food at affordable prices”

Did it deliver? Hot, bothered and quite visibly flustered we flung through the doors of Fraîche Café & Bistro, to be welcomed by a rather calming and relaxing vibe. As we looked across the spacious, airy and open-plan eatery, we noticed something quite different from the norm… a venue not designed with maximum covers in mind, but instead, generously spaced tables and couches offering peace and privacy. Internet restored, Team TMN went straight back to work – well, as soon as our food order was taken, obviously.

Menu choices were limited, but in a strangely welcome way. While not overly hungry, our waitress recommended the Poutine for starters – a traditional Canadian delicacy, so she said – so who were we to argue? We ordered a portion to share, followed by a selection of mains including the Ox-Cheek Cottage Pie, Twice Cooked Lamb Shoulder, Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast and the Butternut Squash Risotto. Drinks arrived swiftly and we barely even brushed on work before our starter arrived. With scenes akin to feeding time at the zoo, it seemed our eagerness to ‘share’ our starter simply demonstrated our terrible misjudgment on how good chips, gravy and cheese really can be. Mains followed which certainly didn’t disappoint – each dish was perfectly cooked, brimming with flavour and left us with a warm fuzzy feeling. While all were extremely tasty, the lamb and cottage pie proved to be the standout favourites.

The Verdict:  Not only did we rescue an afternoon of work, we also discovered a hidden gem buried amongst the abundance of towers within JLT – and lucky for us – just minutes away from TMN HQ. Every cloud…

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Fast Food Nation

As Team TMN discovered on the lead up to launch, long working hours and sustaining a healthy lifestyle is far from easy. For many months we chowed down on an array of home-delivery options but, alas, we recently hit our fast food wall. Not even our initial excitement of McDonalds’ new delivery service could lift our spirits. But then we caught wind of a so-called healthy fast food delivery option… was this the solution to our dining dilemma?

What: Kcal Healthy Fast Food

Where: Kcal currently has four branches across Dubai – Jumeirah Lake Towers, Tecom, The Dubai Mall and Business Bay. Two further branches are due to launch in September/October 2013 in Mirdif City Centre and City Tower 1, Sheikh Zayed Road.

When: Delivery hours are between 11:00-23:30, seven days per week.

The promise: “A world where food is packed with nutrients, dishes burst with flavour and the food is delicious, yet healthy – all under 300 calories!”

Did it deliver? When someone promises ‘delicious’ food, Team TMN think roast dinner with lashings of gravy, a full-scale Lebanese feast or something equally gluttonous… certainly not calorie-controlled rations. So when Kcal’s delivery menu was thrust upon us, we were not fully convinced of its chances of passing our extremely particular taste test. And taste was only half the battle to be won. With no time to waste, speed was of utmost importance as we taxied towards launch. Ordering was relatively pain-free as we experimented in the world of online food ordering, which proved to be a rather novel change from the norm. Food was dispatched quickly and delivered hot – they promised within 45 minutes… it was delivered in 26 minutes. Not bad going, but with our headquarters based in JLT, they didn’t have to travel far. Portion size was surprisingly generous, and with a free side dish with each main, our team didn’t go hungry. Having sampled a selection of dishes – from the surprisingly morish pasta-free lasagne to the hearty Chicken Supreme burger, finished off with a slice of low-cal chocolate cake – we taste-tested a fair selection (and then some!) before departing to the deliberation room.

The Verdict: While initially skeptical that low-calorie fast food could indeed be tasty, Team TMN are well and truly back on our fast food buzz – just with far fewer calories consumed and lower cholesterol levels. Guilt-free fast food – we’re converted!

Would you like Team TMN to review your event, latest launch or product? E-mail with full details and we’ll be in touch to offer our verdict.