Shakespeare and Co. is a stunning example of 16th century opulence. If I could give points for ambience and decor, this place would be up there in a league of its own. The deep red upholstery on top of plush cushion seating and the Elizabeth-esque chandeliers could easily have been from a scene of Juliet’s bedroom.
Shakespeare and Co. is a stunning example of 16th century opulence. If I could give points for ambience and decor, this place would be up there in a league of its own. The deep red upholstery on top of plush cushion seating and the Elizabeth-esque chandeliers could easily have been from a scene of Juliet’s bedroom. Sadly though, Shakespeare would never have been able to own a place like this. Between you and me, I seriously doubt he could ever afford to eat there either.
Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and Othello are all set in Italy. Just like Italian literature, culture and politics influenced the plots and atmosphere of all these plays, Italian cuisine seemed to be the predominant force in the Shakespeare and Co. menu.
In keeping up with the spirit of things, we decided to kick off our modern day Shakespeare experience with some Minestrone soup. I hate to talk of one restaurant when reviewing another but somehow I kept thinking of the Minestrone Soup they serve at Olive Garden (which I must review soon). The soup they served here was a bit less rich and perhaps a little less flavourful but the warm rolls and herbed butter compensated for that. I should point out though that a serving of Minestrone soup here cost 40 AED while it is served free by the bucket load in Olive Garden but enough of that.
We were done with Shakespeare’s Italian escapade and decided to order something closer to home (his home not ours). The most English thing on the menu was the fish and chips so we went ahead and ordered one of those. In keeping up with the seafood theme we also ordered a salmon fillet (not very easy to go wrong with one of those).
Both the dishes came piping hot from the kitchen and like I said, I do not know of many restaurants which can go wrong with either of them. Notable mentions here are the chips (fries) which had a light crispy coating on them and the vegetable tartar which accompanied the salmon fillet. The salmon itself was pan seared, so the crust was dark and crispy (just the way I like it).
Another thing I must mention here is that the plating of the salmon filet was among the best I have seen and I have seen a lot of salmon filets 😉 . The vegetable tartar was assembled into a little tower on which rested a thinly cut slice of grilled eggplant. The salmon itself rested on an eggplant puree.
I had noticed lots of macaroons while entering the restaurant and had thought that taking a bite out of Shakespeare’s French connection would be vital to this experience. Unfortunately, we were quiet full by the time we were done with the main course (I blamed it on the rolls) and decided to come back just for macaroons and tea.
we were greeted by Spider Man and a Green dude who looked like he was going to get his ass kicked by Spider Man pretty soon. There was also this other dude who looked like he could be the star of his own comic book but I couldn’t quite remember who he was.
We hardly went to restaurants as kids. My father’s idea of a big meal out was to prepare a bigger meal at home. He would bring the chefs home and we would watch them as they prepared a Pakistani feast for the same 30 or 40 people that always showed up. Besides the stuffed lamb and the usual partridge masala, there would be a breakfast counter with halwa (sweet dish made of semolina, almonds and cardamom) chana (chickpea) masala and a guy serving piping hot puris (deep fried flaky bread) straight from the gigantic karrahi (wok).
Well, all that happened in Pakistan at my dad’s old country house and it was in another time. Now Mishal and I can barely fit ourselves into our tiny kitchen (or into any of our old jeans for that matter but that is a completely different subject) and honestly I am not sure if I even know 30 or 40 people. Even if I did, the thought of 10 kids tearing down my living room and doing jumping jacks on my sofa is a bit concerning to say the least. Thankfully though, that would never be a problem now because I have discovered a magical place where kids can be kids and adults can be kids too; or they can just remain adults. Nobody would judge them.
As we got out of the elevator and turned the corner towards Flow Kitchen, we were greeted by Spider Man and a Green dude who looked like he was going to get his ass kicked by Spider Man pretty soon. There was also this other dude who looked like he could be the star of his own comic book but I couldn’t quite remember who he was. “Welcome to Flow Kitchen” said the usher standing next to the green dude as I snapped back to reality. “Is this your first time here?” “Yes” I said while the kid in the corner did a Skywalker maneuver with his light sabre. “Mr and Mrs Chaudhry, please follow me” she said and we walked into a large hall which was flooded by the light coming in from the gigantic window that looked into the ocean.
Cheese Room at Flow Kitchen
Cheese room at flow kitchen
Most people seemed like they had either just been to or were about to head out to the beach but there were a couple of people with jackets who seemed just as content and at ease as the guy in yellow flip flops. I without my flip flops and jacket also felt quiet comfortable in the hustle and bustle of what increasingly seemed to resemble a dining room of a Market Hall. There was a cart serving steamed dumplings next to a stand with every possible kind of bread on display.
Pre cut and pre tossed salads are so old school, so there was a cart that had the most beautiful vegetables on display. You would choose what you want and this lady would peel, chop, toss and season your salad before you could say organic. PS Did you know that rock salts come in 5 flavors including charcoal and vanilla?
Some places have totally excluded the breakfast element from their brunches which is quiet sad because brunch is traditionally supposed to be between breakfast and lunch so you should have items from both meals on the menu. Flow Kitchen is as big on breakfast as it is on family. There were sausages, hash browns and beans but the best thing were the eggs. There was a separate stand serving eggs benedict and you could add spinach, chicken, turkey or even roasted pine nuts if you wanted. The yolk was nice and runny just as it should be. There is nothing that offends me more than an overcooked egg.
I am still not a fan of the ‘serve a dish from every country’ doctrine that the brunches seem to have adopted in Dubai but I guess it makes sense if they can make it a part of the theme. A family brunch caters to the whole family so it would only be fair to serve all kinds of cuisine. There is always one dish or type of cuisine that stands out at every brunch. It could be a pasta or a sheesh kebab or even the entire seafood menu. I could not find that one dish at the Ultimate family brunch. The Morrocan lamb tagine was as divine as the Italian margarita pizza and the pesto on the baked salmon was as fine as the wasabi in the soy sauce. This was a foodie’s paradise and I did not want to go back home.
Not everyone in the family enjoys the complications of a sophisticated meal and sometimes all you crave is a good burger with lots of ketchup and some mayonnaise. For those fussy eaters, there was a special kids menu which I would have gladly read out to my seven month old milk junkie had she not been so fascinated with the colorful cakes and gummy bears on display. Despite there being so many kids at the restaurant, it was nothing like my father’s old house. There was no one diving head first off the tables, nobody drawing their parent’s faces on the walls and no one following them around and telling them to behave. The chaos had been allowed to flourish in an organised way albeit confined to the perimeter of the adjoining hall. There were two hours worth of activities which included face painting, balloon twisting, a magic show and arts and crafts. Heck there was even a PlayStation for older kids and for adults who refuse to grow up.
Among the countless dessert options there was a red velvet cake and a decadent chocolate cake that stood out for me but the most popular sweet thing seemed to be the white cupcakes with inverted test tubes stuck on them. The tubes had a raspberry filling which you poured on to the cake. I had to save some room for coconut ice cream (which I had later with warm apple pie) so didn’t really get around to trying it but the theatrics of the tube and the raspberry syrup kept us from slipping into a food coma before we got to the ice cream.
There are so many things I have not described or spoken about like the warm flaky crust of the Moroccon chicken pie or the fresh Irish oysters on ice but I can’t do it because then this review would never end. What I would like to say is that I had not thought of my father’s old house for a long time. Even less of the 30 or 40 familiar faces that kept showing up at all his grand feasts. That changed yesterday. I thought of my family again and any restaurant that can make you do that has got to be special.