Sunday, February 2, 2014

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Picante at Four Points Sheraton, Bur Dubai

Posted at  8:32 AM  |  in  Restaurant

Picante is a traditional Portuguese restaurant based in the Four Points Sheraton in Bur DubaiWhen you think of Mediterranean cuisine in Dubai, Italian, Greek and maybe even Spanish food springs to mind. But if you yearn for something different, why not opt for a Portuguese culinary experience which comes rather nicely packaged in traditional homely surroundings. Welcome to Picante - a traditional Portuguese restaurant based in the Four Points Sheraton in Bur Dubai.

Those who are familiar with Old Dubai will recognise this bustling corner of the Emirate, often heaving with traffic and crowds. But Picante itself is a quiet haven amidst the busy city scene.

Perhaps due to our early lunch start, the restaurant was actually a little too quiet (empty) when we arrived. Nevertheless we received a very warm Portuguese welcome from the staff and Chef Goncalo himself.  The Chef explained that he had moved to Dubai to spread the art of Portuguese cooking in the Middle East and his long passionate talk about authentic Alentejo cuisine is rather endearing. The restaurant offers a similar sort of charm to its Chef, with its wooden furniture, ceramic tiles and warm and rustic décor of traditional oranges and blues.  There is some less appealing outside seating.

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Warm, fresh bread together with bowls of pickled olives and carrots were waiting for us as we perused the menu. Although Picante brands itself as "the home of piri piri in Bur Dubai", we decide to steer away from this most recognisable of Portuguese cuisines and try something different. Our starter was a traditional medley from the Portuguese taverna – Rissol (fried shrimp), Croquete (beef croquettes) and Empadinha (mini chicken pies).  Although the beef croquettes were flavoursome, we really had to hunt for the shrimp hidden in the Rissol. The chicken pie was housed in a light and flaky pastry – rather reminiscent of mediocre British grub.

Picante’s food is designed to reflect a wide range of world flavours with influences from Africa, India and the Far EastGiven its extensive coastline, it is not surprising that fish reigns as a great traditional favourite amongst Portuguese locals. Salt cod (Bacalhau) is a particularly big deal, eaten locally two or three times a week. Picante ships in this salted dried cod to Dubai, and we opted for the Bacalhau Confitado em Azeitel (Cod confit in olive oil) as a main course. Although the cod was served prettily on the plate, it was slightly tougher in texture than expected and a little too salty for our palate. Naturally given Portugal’s historic reputation for churning out sea-faring explorers, Picante’s food is designed to reflect a wide range of world flavours with influences from Africa, India and the Far East. Arab and Moorish flavours are commonly found in food from the Southern coast. Our second main course showcased this fusion beautifully - tender pan-friend lamp chops (Borrego Corado) with an array of accompaniments including mashed sweet potato, sautéed mushroom and, for that Middle Eastern touch, caramelised dates and jus. The lamb dish trumped it for us and the caramelised dates really elevated it to the next level.  

From the highlight of the lunch to the dessert, we were rather disappointed with the trio of Rabanadas, Mousse de Chocolate e Amendoas which comprised of a very passable chocolate mousse served with over-crunchy fried milky bread. Fortunately an additional serving of the Portuguese favourite – Pasteis de Nata – rescued our sugar cravings. A cinnamon-tinged egg custard in a light, layered puff pastry, the recipe is said to be kept a big secret passed down in generations.

It is quite tricky to know how to rate Picante. Although the food varied from excellent to disappointing, we really enjoyed getting a taste of authentic Portuguese cuisine and the whole experience overall was quite positive. And stepping back out into the hectic buzz of Bur Dubai, we felt sure we would be calling in to this little bit of Portugal again in the future.

Picante Dubai is located at the Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, Khalid Bin Walid Street, Bur Dubai. Call 04 3977444 for reservations. Opening Hours: Lunch 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm to 12:00 am

Have you been to Picante yet? We would love to hear your views! Leave your comments below and visit our Facebook page for more reviews on attractions throughout the UAE.

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