Restaurant Review:
Mint Leaf of London

DIFC
Dubai

Our first brush with Mint Leaf of London arrived in the form of an Iftar party invite a year or so ago. Needless to say, we were very excited to try the reputed London based fine-dining restaurant that sits pretty on the 15th floor of the South Tower at Dubai International Financial Centre, and is a subsidiary of the Mint Leaf Group. The refined spirit of the group is rife in the décor, presentation and ambiance. Before you even get to the food on offer, you begin devouring your surroundings as the dark, elegant wooden interiors are perfectly complemented by a majestic view of Downtown Dubai and behemoth, Burj Khalifa. On our first visit to the restaurant it was the ambiance and interiors that wowed us more than the food, which is not to say that it wasn’t tasty but well, it wasn’t unusual or memorable. The usual suspects were served such as a variety of Kebabs, Tikkas, Daals, Sabzis, Gravy dishes and more yet the food was still overpowered by everything else. However, all this has now changed and the pizzazz that we thought was missing has been found and all this because there’s a new, but not unknown, Executive Chef on board; Pradeep Khullar. Food aficionados and not, would recognize Chef Pradeep, a household name in Dubai, for his revolutionary and lip-smacking culinary combinations, attention to detail and overall amicable personality that makes dining at his restaurant a truly remarkable experience.

So, our recent tasting at Mint Leaf with Chef Pradeep at the helm was something we were really excited about and with good reason. Here’s everything we were served:

Amuse Bouche

  • Wasabi Poori, Green Peas: Crisp poori filled with wasabi flavoured yoghurt & topped up with green peas & pomegranate to open up the taste buds with a slight kick from wasabi.

One of us does not enjoy spicy food that much and steers clear of anything that seems even remotely spicy. When we heard this is a quirky yet fiery take on the Gol-Gappa (Pani Puri), one of us turned wary. However, except for the slight kick you feel when the flavor hits, this one can be enjoyed by those who don’t enjoy spice either!

Starters

  • Duck Seekh Kabab, Plum & Chevre Mousse: Boneless duck meat minced twice with fat, cheese & other seasoning, served with mousse made from goat cheese & plums.

  • Romano Peppers, Panch Phoran Potatoes: Potatoes and Spices filling stuffed into the de-seeded Romano Peppers. Coated with Gram Flour batter, Black Quinoa and flash fried. Served with a Mango Chilli drizzle.

  • Desi Taco, Pulled Chicken Tak-a-Tak: Breads filled with a semi dry mixture made of pulled Chicken with Onions & Peppers. Drizzled with Garlic flavoured Yoghurt & cripsy potatoes on the top.

  • Charcoal Cornettos, Pumpkin Tak-a-Tak: Baked Cornetto Cones made with Refined Flour and Squid Ink. Filled with stir fried pumpkin mixture tempered with Onions, Tomatoes, Fennel Seeds, Sugar, Tamarind and Green Coriander. Topped with Garlic Cream

Hand on heart, we have ONLY nice things to say about the starters. Actually that’s an understatement; the starters especially the DUCK seekh kebab and the Desi Tacos deserve standing ovations! A lot of people, including one half of stamps and stubs tend to find duck meat chewy and not enjoyable. Chef Pradeep has changed that with his unique, mouth melting kebabs! Another one that melts in the mouth is the pulled chicken wrapped in Phulkas. How delicious do these sound? The descriptions honestly do them no justice and we can safely say that we’d keep returning to Mint Leaf to order multiple portions of these two dishes (honestly everything else was great too but the uniqueness and flavors of these two dishes shoved them to the top of our list).

Main Courses

  • Seared Black Cod, Cilantro Parsley Sauce: Pan seared Tuna fillet served over bed of quinoa & vegetables pulao with cilantro & parsley based curry.

  • Masala Chicken, Passion Fruit Curry: Chicken pieces cooked in Tandoor & tossed with Onions & Tomatoes masala, served with curry made with Passion fruit, Garlic & Cinnamon.

  • Gunpowder Naan: Crispy Butter Naan loaded with South Indian spice mix called Gunpowder, drizzled with clarified butter.

  • Dal Makhani: Black Urad Dal tempered with Tomatoes, Butter & other ingredients topped with home churned salted butter.

  • Black Quinoa & Pomegranate Raita: Unusual combination of yoghurt & puffed black quinoa with pomegranate pods. Served as a side dish.

  • Chicken Biryani

Black Cod is one of our favorite fish and our most preferred Black Cod dish has been the one at Nobu. However, Chef Pradeep’s desi style black cod (the first time we’ve had this fish with desi flavors) has left us confused about which one gets top spot. A must have when you’re dining at Mint Leaf. The rest of the mains were on point as well and we thoroughly enjoyed the Black Quinoa and Pomegranate Raita; loved the crunchy twist!

Desserts

  • PB & C, Nougat Bar: Chef’s take on snickers bar, without the richness of caramel & super cool temperature of ice cream, glazed with valrhona ganache. Peanut nougat accompanies it to bring the crunch & texture to the dessert.

  • Hazelut Gataeux, Strawberry Basil Kulfi: Chocolate Hazlenut cake topped up with Strawberry Basil Kulfi, drizzled with Hazelnut sauce.

  • The Lotus Mess, Wild Berries: Inspired from the very british Eton Mess, this is a warmer version of Lotus, which has a lot of berries, bananas & ice cream & lotus caramel & biscuits, minus the whipped cream, which only works as a filler.

Lotus fans, chocolate fans, dessert fans make sure you save room for dessert which is a tough ask when the food comes out from Chef Pradeep’s kitchen! The PB & C (Move over PB & J) may be an identical Snickers twin in appearance but boasted of Chef Pradeep’s unique touches! Neither has the lotus trend died down, nor has the creativity behind lotus desserts and the one at Mint Leaf joins the bandwagon of Lotus desserts and holds its own among others.

To cut a long story short (which we really have to because waxing lyrical about everything we ate would turn this review into a small book), we loved Mint Leaf’s revamped menu and advise you to head to the restaurant when you have a big appetite and time on your hands because this is one experience that you must savor!
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