When Team TMN discovered that Michelin-starred chef Frederic Vardon would be opening his first international restaurant in Dubai, we couldn’t wait to find out whether the food matched the creator’s impressive reputation…
What: La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge
Where: Raffles Hotel, Dubai
When: Open for dinner every day between 7pm and 2am
The promise: “Inspired by Parisian luxury brasseries, La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge brings French elegance and accessible haute cuisine to the centre of Dubai.”
Did it deliver? Upon entering La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d stumbled upon an English stately home – with its Chesterfield-style furniture, paneled walls and warmly lit chandeliers, all the space lacked was some stuffed animals and genteel men and women sipping tea. It was only upon noticing the quirky and distinctly French artwork and detailing that Team TMN realised we had entered a luxe French bistro. Following a warm welcome from our hostess, we were quickly led to our table, which was pleasantly intimate, without being cut off from the rest of the bustling restaurant. The high ceilings and warm atmosphere, while on paper seem to be at odds with each other, meant that La Résidence provided an atmosphere that was cosy and rich, without being imposing or overly fussy – in total contrast to the 40-degree heat and shimmering pyramids outside.
La Résidence is a restaurant built on the reputation of Frédéric Vardon and it is easy to see his influence in all of the food we were presented with – beginning with an amuse bouche taster of miniature cheese soufflés, uniquely disguised as small spheres. The starters we sampled: a green pea soup, and soft-boiled egg ‘royale-style’, were both utterly delectable. The green pea soup was served chilled, offering a unique tasting experience which further enhanced its velvety texture, while the egg – though totally unrecognisable as an egg, beautifully reconstructed as a foamy mass – was deliciously rich thanks to the inspired mushroom addition, a pleasant surprise for a vegetable-based course.
For mains, team TMN chose a beef tenderloin and Dublin bay prawn ravioli. The beef tenderloin stood out as an expertly cooked and flavourful dish presented in a way that we had never seen before. Sliced elegantly, it appeared as two pieces of meat and truly melted in the mouth, while the homemade ravioli – with its generous filling and wonderful sauce – was another winner with us. Sides of seasonal vegetables and French beans were the perfect accompaniment.
Although completely full, we miraculously managed a little room to sample La Residence’s signature dessert of crêpes suzette. Rolled into small straw-like tubes, the paper-thin pancakes were utterly delicious. A panna cotta-like topping, and thin strips of candied orange peel balanced the sweet and citrusy flavors permeating the crepes, making the dessert a truly decadent and resplendently French way to end our meal!
The Verdict: La Résidence Restaurant and Lounge is a charming venue. It serves food that is both beautifully presented as well as truly delicious in a setting of genial ambience and warmth. As the first international venture from Frédéric Vardon, this restaurant definitely reflects his attention to detail and unique visions of French cuisine. Team TMN would highly recommend the venue as a place for a celebratory dinner, romantic date or simply a classy evening out.