A certain surge of urgent chatter surrounds high-profile restaurant openings in this city, especially when they arrive like a very important and highly anticipated guest from New York. Most stateside newcomers have lived up to the hype, Nobu, Catch, Junoon; the ones that didn’t, well who’s counting.Then Bistrot Bagatelle arrived in Dubai at the end of last year with the confidence of having nailed their St-Tropez-in-the-city concept in New York’s hard-to-please Meatpacking District – before then conquering 10 more cities across four continents. And what a welcome they have received. The restaurant has been packed out with a glamorous party crowd since the unmarked double doors on the first floor of The Fairmont Dubai first opened. In fact, it already has a month-long waiting list for hopefuls seeking reservations.On launching brand Bagatelle in 2008, the aim of co-founders Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente was to fuse the cultures of the South of France and New York City. Take those endless lunches enjoyed on the French Riviera – all fresh seafood and “let’s get another bottle” vibes and drop them into a frenetic urban setting. Add DJs, pop art and caffeine-charged cocktails and you get the second, third and fourth wind each and every night.Still, those unmarked doors could be taken as a sign of the pretentious, but our welcome couldn’t have been warmer. In fact we felt like very important guests. “The main entrance is moving to the other end now our lounge is finished,” explained Roberto, the restaurant’s guest relations manager. “These doors are just temporary”. All is well again.Walking to our table, it’s clear the interiors, designed by architect Callin Fortis, are styled to replicate a Parisian apartment. Table cloths and walls in bright white but warmed by chandeliers and candle light. Corners come to life with orchids jutting from delicate vases in cream, orange and magenta bursts, while the pop art (curated by The Opera Gallery) helps charge the room with an excitable energy. Sitting down, even as one of the first of the night to do so, it was hard not to think: this is going to be good.The Mediterranean inspired menu is in the hands of head chef Timothy Newton (formerly of La Petite Maison) with 70 percent of the dishes original to this city in order to stay in tune with local tastes and ingredients.Like all Bagatelles, though, the dining concept is sharing. To start, we order yellow-fin tuna tartare, duck confit (with crispy duck skin and pickled shallots) and baby kale salad, packed with goodies like pumpkin, pecans and dried cranberries. There are ten cold entrees and just as many hot to choose from.
Ready to Start the Party?