|In a word: Tranquil|
|Food: Yum with ethics and a couple of extraordinary dishes that make The Farm worth the trek|
|Presentation: Chic and clean|
|Ambience: Family friendly yet it works for romance, business and time out of Dubai|
|Location: Lush greenery set against simple and clean structures|
|Value for money: Yep: generally good portion sizes, quality ingredients, stunning location|
|Worth a visit?: Absolutely|
As you turn off the Emirates Road to the Al Barari Estate, you enter a hidden paradise via a densely planted shrub and tree-lined road. Seriously, this place is Lush, with a capital L. The set up here is just beautiful, it works all year round and proves a really popular option with locals and expats alike.
The Farm markets itself as a social, leisure and culinary hub in landscaped gardens with ponds and a botanical gardens – still under construction when we visited.
You’d be wise not to venture out to Al Barari without first making a booking. The Farm is frequently fully booked, they only have one shared table on offer, and they regularly close the whole restaurant for private events.
I’m not for one moment going to pretend that this place isn’t completely unsustainable, it’s a classic Dubai: we live in the desert, but we want to live in the South of France idea. I hate to imagine the amount of water and power that goes into keeping somewhere like the Al Barari Estate lush and green, and this place is properly lush green, even in the middle of summer time.
The Farm is perfectly located if you’re lucky enough to live on the Al Barrari Estate, which means most of us will have a twenty-or-so-minute drive from Dubai to get out past Nad al Sheba onto Emirates Road.
Inline with the commitment to body and soul nourishment, The Farm also offers morning yoga sessions with Rebecca Silver every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am until 10am – call to check availability. Just perfect if you fancy a session on the mat in nature with a healthy brekkie afterwards.
One thing that redeems The Farm on their sustainability issues for me, is their commitment to using the best quality ingredients, locally sourced and organic when available. Inside the main building they sell both local and imported produce and wares, including their freshly homemade bread and baked goods and local veggies.
My Hash Brown with poached egg, as the name suggests consisted of a tasty little potato hash brown cake topped with a clump of rocket, a perfect little runny poached egg and a buttery sauce.
We opted for scrambles with freshly homemade sourdough for our Eggs with toast, adding a side of sauteed spinach with pine nuts just to pimp things out a bit and bring the breakfast alive. You see eggs and toast on the menu and it really is just that. I find it a bit disappointing that there is no attempt to pimp out this simple dish, and this is not just a gripe with The Farm, it happens pretty much everywhere. I make a mean pimped out scrambled eggs at home, and therefore when I go out I expect something more than just egg and toast; maybe just a few roasted tomatoes and a drizzle of pesto for example. It costs pennies, or in this case fils, adds pizazz by turning the ordinary into the extraordinary…not rocket science and it makes me smile!
The Pistachio Treat is perfect for sharing: a big slab of waffle made with ground pistachio in the waffle mix, topped with a big blob of pistachio’d cream cheese, a scattering of fresh raspberries and served with chocolate sauce and honey. Truly scrumptious. This they got right, BIG time! I would drive all the way to The Farm for this alone.
The fresh mint leaf tea is exactly that: fresh and minty, and they give you a decent sized pot of it, which for me is all important! The smoothies are milky bland like they’ve only ever seen fruit as opposed to being full of fruit. Having said that, the juices are great and I would highly recommend the Avocado and Green Apple juice; thick, creamy and full of healthy omega fats.
For our lunch visit, we shared starters of the Grilled Eggplant rolls and Poh Pai Phak Sod – Summer Vegetable Rolls. Two contrasting dishes, I loved the freshness and herbed full flavour of the summer rolls and their spicy sauce, the eggplant rolls on the other hand didn’t do it for me; I thought the sundried tomato and peppers could have packed more of a flavourful punch to compliment the creamy goat’s cheese. The Roasted Sweet Potato chips were tasty, although a bit on the limp side.
I had the Yam Mawuang Hua-Plee Kab Goong – Mango, Banana Blossom and Prawn Salad; the bed of shredded veggies were drenched in a super tasty chilli-spiced sauce, cashews and two prawns. Yep, just two lonely little prawns, a little bit disappointing for AED 42, it’s a good job the salad aspect of the dish was delicious and it wasn’t all I ate for lunch.
The Seared Tuna Salad was huge; heavy on the great big rounds of seasoned tuna and light on the mixed leafy salad and dressing. This dish was the perfect balance of meatiness to salad and full of colour.
Food-wise it’s good, but they could make just a little bit more of an effort to add some pizazz to seemingly ordinary dishes to make them amazing, like the eggs on toast. Everything is presented on cool whites and greenyblues, natural fabrics and wood, with beautiful flatware.
The restaurant building itself is unassuming; small and low lying, housing around ten or so tables, not that you want to eat inside when they have a very beautiful outside eating area over looking the pond and lush vegetation that surrounds you. Cleverly, the outside eating area can be adapted to cope with the stinking summer months with glass sides and aircon, the rest of the year it’s left open so you can feel the nature all around you.
Due to the lushness of the Al Barari Estate, the place is briming full of nature’s delights – flowers, birds and, of course, the flies. The pesky little flies can all too quickly turn a visit to The Farm from serene to the slightly irritating, luckily the staff have found a natural way of deterring the mini flying beasties by burning coffee grounds, innovative!
Price-wise, it’s not cheap, you’re paying for quality ingredients and massive water and energy bills! No seriously, it’s no more expensive to dine here than say Baker & Spice or More Cafe, at The Farm you get the added bonus of dinning in the most beautiful lush gardens – it’s certainly cheaper than a flight to the South of France! Value for money-wise, The Farm generally serves up decent sized portions for mains and sides; I was really impressed with the size of the tuna salad and the waffles, and not so impressed to only get two lonely prawns in my Yam Mawuang Hua-Plee Kab Goong.
The service at The Farm is great; it’s prompt, friendly and knowledgable; staff are ready to recommend their favourites and offer alternatives, which I like. The Farm was one of the first restaurants in Dubai to offer their menu on an iPad, with the pictures and descriptions matching what they deliver to the table.
I’d absolutely recommend that you take a trip out to The Farm, you’ll come away feeling refreshed like you’ve had that two week holiday in the South of France. I had heard mixed reviews about their day-time menu lacking in exciting dishes and was hesitant to take the drive out there for anything other than breakfast, but I’m glad I did. They’ve got some really nice foodie offerings that hold true to their ‘soul-satisfying’ and wholesome claims in really beautiful surroundings, you’ll be a world away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai-life.
As I mentioned before, make sure you book, even for breakfast on a weekday.
Oh and maybe just try and do something to help reduce your carbon-footprint after a visit!
The Farm, Al Barari, Emirates Road, opposite Falcon City
Tel: +971 (0)4 392 5660,
Everyday 8am to 11pm