Sheer exuberance. That’s how I would have described the lively, party atmosphere of Bistrot Bagatelle, an international name synonymous with international jet-setters that frequented its locations in hotspots like New York and St Tropez.
But how would the Dubai outpost weather the onset of Covid times, when the upbeat ambiance had to be toned down? It was with some trepidation that I returned to the French-accented spot at Fairmont Dubai and was thrilled to see that it’s landed firmly on its feet by adjusting the spotlight from its scene to its excellent cuisine.
The venue itself remains the same; the chic, candle-lit white décor enlivened by eye-catching canvases featuring pop art adding colour to the walls. And its regulars keep returning – we thought an early weekday slot would result in us being the sole diners, but to the contrary, all socially-distanced tables on our Monday 7:30pm seating were full. The atmosphere felt more refined than it did before – and that was before the food started arriving, deftly served by excellent staff who guided us through their signature dishes.
Mediterranean fine dining – that’s how you would now describe what comes out of this elevated kitchen. From the decadent foie gras terrine served with feather-light brioche to the garlicky, buttery escargot and oxtail-filled ravioli, intricate avocado and crab roulade to plump oysters, perfectly pink-on-the-inside lamb chops, and Josper roasted baby chicken, every dish their new Chef Riccardo magicked up was moreish, comfort food. The sparklers that accompanied a birthday dessert at the end – a rich chocolate fondant that was definitely worth the calories – harked back to the party days.
But the wonderful thing is that in Bistrot Bagatelle, the joie de vivre is still served up – but now it is firmly on the plate.