Truth be told, my first impressions of Trèsind Studio, Dubai weren’t at all what I had romanticised about in my overactive imagination! To begin with, despite being on time, my party of five and I were made to wait a good half an hour. Sat at the lounge next to the main entrance overlooking the studio’s rooftop lush herb garden, all we could do was to breathe in deeply and reign in our slowly heightening impatience.
The assigned table wasn’t yet ready for our 9pm dinner reservation (the other sitting is at 6pm), the profusely apologetic maître d’ let us know, offering us a glass of wine to lubricate the wait, and repeatedly assuring us that it would be well worth it.
The main space of the studio itself is surprisingly unremarkable and rather austere. Darkly furnished and sombre looking with just six tables to seat the 20 diners it can accommodate at each sitting. Little was I to know then, that this was a deviously deliberate ploy so that the food gets all the attention. And quite rightly so.
Earlier this month, Trèsind Studio’s corporate chef Himanshu Saini was awarded his first Michelin star for the restaurant, coinciding with the launch of the Dubai edition of the inaugural Michelin Guide. This, one of the culinary world’s greatest nods, is the latest in a string of noteworthy achievements for the studio. Not only was it declared the Homegrown Restaurant of the Year by Gault and Millau, but also Restaurant of the Year by both FACT Magazine and What’sOn.
Having recently relocated from its perch on Dubai’s arterial Sheikh Zayed Road to its new rooftop home at the Nakheel Mall on the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island, the focus is now on the mélange of global ingredients and modern cooking techniques with traditional Indian elements. This means that the studio’s signature AED 595++ (£131 ++), 17-course degustation dinner only menu (cocktails are an additional AED 95, or £21, each), features an interesting, often incongruous (in a good way) array of imaginatively plated, minimalist style Indian dishes.
Finally at our table, we sat down and let it all unfold, one tiny course at a time. Inspired by, and credited with reviving, the old school concept of Gueridon trolley service incorporated with elements of molecular gastronomy, the menu showcased traditional dishes from the sub-continent presented with a modernistic approach.
As one is only handed the menu as a souvenir at the end of the meal, it was up to the well-trained wait staff to introduce each of the 17 dishes. These took the form of everything from a sublime Goan cuisine-inspired duck cafreal ‘taco’ served atop a nasturtium leaf to a divine celebration of umami with the morel pulao (pilaf) that’s drizzled with a rather astringent Assam tea dashi.
What I particularly liked were unexpected ideations like a modernist chaat (Delhi-style street snacks) trolley, bearing dishes like the chaat ceviche. This one not only tasted brilliant, but was top of the charts with its delicate, floral-accentuated table presence. There’s also the brilliantly conceptualised wood-apple pani puri served alongside a pomelo salad and coriander flowers.
Embracing the various regional culinary influences that have woven its way into the cuisine, Trèsind Studio’s menu is all at once, sophisticated, imaginative and highly visual. Take for instance the roomali roti and turnip tart and the shiso khakra that saw the Gujarati crisp laden with cooling yogurt cremeux and topped off with herbs from the studio’s aforementioned garden.
However, the menu isn’t totally devoid of those unavoidable Indian cuisine tropes. Here, I found the ubiquitous tandoori in the guise of a xiao long bao-adjacent tandoori chicken dumpling that held forth a robustly spiced curry brodo. There’s also the Mangalorean ghee roast crab with burnt cinnamon and a curry leaf tempura flourish for those with a penchant for South Indian flavours.
Reaching a crescendo with the 17th, grand finale dessert course was a honeycomb cacao hive with sidr honey and kan-junga tea. All served atop a lit moon-like sphere accompanied by Frank Sinatra on surround sound, belting out his famous fly me to the moon ballad on cue.
Balancing its gourmet offerings and rounding off the well-calibrated dining experience, were the innovative signature drinks curated by the studio’s corporate bar manager, Sherine John. Called Papadam, the studio’s botanical bar sends off punchy libations like ‘the blessing’ which is made up of Tanqueray gin, Mancino rosso vermouth, and cacao all perked up by an herbaceous fennel cordial. But my favourite would have to have been the ‘backyard fizz’ with its main Johnnie Walker Black herbal whisky and Fino sherry parts, topped off with mango shrub and soda.
In a nutshell
Dining at Trèsind Studio, where the often unremarkable and ho-hum build up to the grand finale on the table is one that is most certainly deliberate, crucial even, to the whole experience. One where every cadence is planned to perfection and played out brilliantly, piece by piece.
Address: R002, East Wing Rooftop, Nakheel Mall, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE.
Phone: +971 588951272