I remember being pulled into L’eto Café by the captivating display of tarts and cakes, not once but two times as I walked past the store at Mall of the Emirates. Not to eat anything, no. I am supposed to be on a perpetual diet you see. No tarts, cakes or any other sinful indulgence for me, thank you. I am a man of abstinence.
Like all other mortals however, I have my weak moments. Moments when the dormant wild beast within overpowers the voice of reason. There are times when middle aged logic and self-control lose out to reckless curiosity and desire. Usually those moments kick in before dinnertime every day. It just so happened, that the two times I was enticed into L’eto Café was on days that I had already had dinner. So, the reason I had not defied all reasoning to dive head first into a L’eto fig and cardamom tart yet, was all down to timing. I was just at the right place at the wrong time.
This time was different though. I casually slipped in the name while discussing a venue for Iftar that was not a buffet. ‘They do have lots of salads and healthy options’ I said, while forgetting to mention that they also had the most alluring cake display, this side of the Champs-Élysées. Like always, my powerful power of persuasion worked and L’eto Café was the destination of choice that evening.
We chose the City Walk location. It had a patio that looked out into the walking street that had all the performers and little food carts. We decided to sit inside though. The well-lit dining area and luxurious white furnishings were dotted with colorful flowers. This was such an instagrammable place and we didn’t even make it to the cake display yet.
The hostesses were super sweet. Besides being quick and efficient in seating us, they did one thing that will ensure a repeat visit to this place. They offered to take baby D off of our hands. “Do you need a baby sitter?” asked one of them. Before we could process that question, D almost jumped out of her pram and into her arms as we watched in amazement. That didn’t last very long but the fact that it happened, even for a minute, was just so surreal.
Due to my extrasensory perception, we were delighted to see that they did actually have a vast selection of salads. Now, we could eat healthy right before annihilating our vows. Who needs restraint when you can have cake instead? Thanks to the salads, there would be zero percent guilt and hundred percent satisfaction.
We ordered a salad trio which allowed us to pick 3 salads from the display. We went for the Harissa Aubergines & Black Beluga Lentil salad, Honey Roasted Pumpkin & Crispy Kale salad and the Caramelized Beetroot, Dates & Goat Cheese salad. I think the names are self-explanatory but let me just add that the Aubergine & Lentil salad was dotted with cherry tomatoes and seasoned with fresh mint, parsley and coriander. The Pumpkin and Kale salad had bulgar wheat, dried cranberries and feta cheese while the beetroot, dates and goat cheese salad was completed by adding baby spinach, green beans, radicchio and almonds. Need I say more?
We ordered one of the best looking open faced burgers I had seen in a long time. The ‘California Burger’ was basically some avocado slices over a thick beef patty placed on a bed of greens resting on a toasted bun. The other half of the bun was layered with tomato salsa which had pomegranate seeds mixed into it. It was like a Sicilian love affair in Tehran, or LA – depending on what side went into your mouth first. We were not in any of those cities though. We were in the only city that could be all of those places and more; a city that is a melting pot of cultures with a distinct identity of its own. We were in Dubai and this was the definitive Dubai Burger. I suggest they rename this burger as such but while the folks at L’eto think about that, I am going to go ahead and add this to my ‘Best 11 Burgers in Dubai’ list.
The next dish we ordered was the Chicken Teriyaki. Clearly, the description in the menu was unable to do justice to this dish. It said that the dish included roasted sweet potatoes and oyster mushrooms as sides. What it did not mention was that Oyster mushrooms grow in larger flat caps similar to shiitake. As they grow larger, the flavor intensifies and they become tougher and meatier. The caps of these particular mushrooms must have been quiet large because I could have sworn I was chewing on Thai beef. The roasted sweet potatoes were roasted to the point where they had become slightly less sweet and a little crispy. The crispy sweet potatoes complimented the meaty texture of the mushrooms. Together, with the fragrant teriyaki chicken they created a mélange of flavours that I can still savour, as I write this review.
L’eto is famous for its cakes and pastries but we were so stuffed that we decided to leave the coffee and cake for another day. My priority at that point was to wiggle out of my chair. I was positive I had grown a little bigger than before. I wasn’t entirely sure if I could walk by myself and I think I almost requested for a wheel barrow. My perpetual diet was still on though…once again, I had managed to stay away from the sugar!