GF Ferre chocolate bar.

Every time someone says “GF Ferre”, I imagine super skinny men and women with chiseled jawlines strutting their stuff down a ramp somewhere at the Dubai Design District. The last thing I can think of is food. There is in fact an emotion of immense regret that takes over. I feel guilty for the last meal I had. My mind calculates the number of calories consumed on that day while simultaneously trying to figure out the number of meals I would have to skip to balance my impulsive eating habits.

That seldom happens though. I don’t skip too many meals. I just eat whenever and whatever I want to. As long as I make sure I don’t hear the names GF Ferre, Roberto Cavalli or Georgio Armani anywhere close to meal times, I am ok. All of these brands that remind me of super skinny people and make me feel accountable for every calorie I consume, also operate restaurants in Dubai. Ironic, is it not?

So now you know how I feel about dining at a restaurant that shares its name with a fashion label. That is precisely the reason I never stopped at the GF Ferre chocolate bar, despite secretly admiring its sunlit location at the MOE Fashion Avenue every time I passed by. I did always wonder why they added the word ‘chocolate’ to the name though. It kind of made it sound like an oxymoron. GF Ferre Bar might have worked better. No?

As if, accepting the fact that the fashion types actually ate at all wasn’t enough; having to process the fact that they ate chocolate confused me even more. It got to a point where I could hold it in no more and last Friday, I decided to stop by at this place to find out exactly what went on in there.

First of all, let me assure you that there were no fashion models inside. Mostly regular folks like you and me, trying to squeeze in a quick lunch between their shopping or just weighing in on Kanye West’s newfound love for Donald Trump over a bottomless mug of coffee. A part of me may have been slightly disappointed for not being able to spot any fashion types but I was mostly relieved. This was just another Friday in just another Dubai café.

Next, we had what could have been your average pasta with sautéed chicken, mushrooms and creamy white sauce but it was not. I could immediately taste the distinct Parmigiano Reggiano flavour. It takes at least 24 months to make this cheese. This long period of maturity and the special diet that the cows are fed on give this cheese its unmistakable aroma and flavour. This meant that work on this Penne Alfredo started at least 2 years ago. Let that sink in for a while. Now, let me tell you that it was almost worth the wait.

The Hell Boy was definitely one of the better-looking beef burgers I have ever seen. Part of it was due to the red beetroot sesame bun but part of it was due to the fact that it was so darn cute! It had a double beef patty, topped with caramelized onions and smothered with old fashioned American cheese. Taste wise, it was pretty good but not good enough to make my BEST 11 BURGERS IN DUBAI list and let’s just leave it at that.

Now that guilt I spoke about earlier was starting to set in so I decided to order a salad too. I realized later that the trick to eating like models was to order the salad instead of the main course and not in spite of the main course. I was really glad I ordered it anyway because it ended up being my favourite dish of the day. The Oganic Quinoa with Grilled Chicken had a unique flavour which I could attribute later to the sumac and chives. The feta added a creamy texture while the hazelnuts and pomegranate added a well needed crunch whenever it was needed. It also had grilled onions, baby spinach and the most amazing pickled beetroot to wrap it all up with a tangy aftertaste. If this is what fashion models ate, sign me up please!

The Banofee milkshake was almost as would be expected but I think I tasted some Lotus biscuit in there somewhere. Cheeky move, right? The Passion Fruit Mojito was made of muddled lime, ginger and fresh mint mixed with passion fruit bits and ice, which was then topped with sparkling water. The ginger was what made this drink work but I did wish they had added a bit more passion fruit in there. It was also quite limited in quantity but I figured that’s how much fashion models are supposed to consume so I pretended to be really happy with it. Next time, I may just stick to the diet coke.

So, my final thoughts are that yes maybe fashion brands can operate restaurants and perhaps their natural creativity may help them in coming up with some brilliant dishes at times. They are probably a lot better at making salads then they are at making burgers but when they do make a burger, it will be like an edible work of art. I also realized that fashion types don’t necessarily starve themselves to lose weight…..and neither should you.

Mad Hatter’s party, Sugar Factory.

View my food journey on Zomato!

Ok, so it took me a while to get there. All the cool kids were instagramming ‘La Mer’ to the moon and back and I was still nowhere to be seen. It took so long that I was worried it may not even be so cool by the time I got there. Literally. it was actually really far. Especially if you live on the wrong side of Sheikh Zayed road but if you are around Satwa or Bur Dubai, a hop, skip and a jump will get you there.

It all seemed to be worth it when we reached. I wanted to do a little dance and tell people that I had ‘arrived’. More on that in another post. Of all the beautiful little cafes and restaurants at La Mer, one definitely stood out. Not just because it was one of the largest standalone restaurants bang in the middle of La Mer Central but also because of its name and colorful logo. That is how we decided to eat at the Sugar Factory.

A quick google search revealed that Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Drake, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria are among celebrities who have either endorsed or have been spotted at the Sugar Factory. Needless to say, I was intrigued.

There couldn’t have been a more appropriate name for this place. It was like the Mad Hatter was hosting a tea party at Willy Wonka’s house. It was just like any other mad tea party but bigger and better with bright red leather couches and all the bells and whistles possible because of course, this was Willy Wonka land.

The theme of the shindig was ‘Carnival Eats’ and God knows I like a themed party. Had it not been for the fear of diabetes and old age, I would have indulged in an insane milkshake type thing but was happy to settle for the passion fruit mojito.

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Passion Fruit Mojito

Sticking to the theme of the party, we ordered the signature rainbow sliders which were 5 colorful mini buns stuffed with a grilled angus beef patty and melted cheddar. Along with lettuce and tomato, it was smothered in a secret sauce and my personal favorite – caramelized onions. Now the thing with sliders is that there is relatively little room to add stuff so you’ve got to choose your ingredients carefully. The most important ingredient of course, is the meat and I am happy to report that the thick angus patty in these sliders would receive a rating of ‘fantastic’ from any burger connoisseur.

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Rainbow Sliders at Sugar Factory

The secret sauce (whatever it was) seemed to work and the crispy crunch of the caramelized onions provided a great finishing touch to these little meaty treats. Also, allow me to say that they were among the best looking burgers I have ever laid my eyes on. It was almost as if someone had plucked the little coloured dots from the sugar factory logo and placed them on a platter. They were such a visual treat that these sliders are now number 7 on my best burgers in Dubai list. Click Here for the complete list.

Since this was Willy Wonka’s place and it was the Mad Hatters party, we thought it would be alright to take it up a notch and have a waffle for lunch. Luckily, the Sugar factory’s rendition of a waffle was as crazy as mine could have been on that particular day! The Tex Mex was served warm with chicken ragu, grilled chicken, guacamole, beans and corn salsa. That was all topped off with grated cheese and Crispy nachos.

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Tex Mex waffle at Sugar Factory

I have a weakness for guacamole, nachos and waffles. For a while, I actually believed that I had slipped down the rabbit hole with Alice and this actually was the mad hatters party. The concept of the waffle sandwich was pretty crazy but it was the execution that made me realize that I was at a top notch eating establishment. A place where nobody was scared of being experimental and having a little fun. I honestly do not remember the last time I had such a ball with my food. Please do visit whenever you can!