The interior of Brasserie Angélique is elegantly sleek, to say the least. The soaring ceilings; gleaming monochrome floor; heavy, white linen tablecloths; gilded chandeliers and jaunty music all speak of old-fashioned elegance and complete the upscale French brasserie feel.
The sumptuously bound traditional one-page menu only adds to this sensation, as does the appearance of boeuf bourguignon, escargot, soupe a l'oignon, pate de foie gras and cassoulet - French gastro classics, every one.
Although certainly not austere, the mood is formal; things loosened up a little as the night went on and more customers arrived, but right at the start when, bar a lone diner in the corner, my friend and I were the only guests, it did feel a little intense.
Service was impeccably polite throughout. However, like the meal as a whole, it lacked a certain something; water glasses were refilled quickly and consistently and cutlery fussed over, but at no point during our starters, mains or desserts were we asked if we were enjoying the food. Which, to my mind at least, is a bit of a fail.
My starter was described on the menu as: "asparagus and cepes [sic] tart, young vegetable salad, truffle vinaigrette". Consequently, I expected the tart to feature both asparagus and ceps and was surprised to only find mushrooms suspended in the warm, wobbly egg filling, which was pleasant without being memorable. Chopped asparagus did appear in the vegetable salad, alongside a tangle of mixed leaves and al dente baby carrots and turnips, which could have done with being blanched in more heavily salted water. The pastry meanwhile was delicate, with a buttery crunch to it.
A waiter served lobster bisque table side, ceremoniously pouring the dark amber liquid over a ravioli filled with lobster meat. The rich smell of the shellfish soup suggested my friend was in for a treat, yet while certainly passable, the consistency veered towards the watery and the flavour was a little timid.
Moving on to main courses, a confit duck leg served on a bed of lentils was large and plump and had been cooked slowly and properly, so that the crispness of the skin balanced the tenderness of the meat underneath, with the majority of the fat rendered away. The braised lentils had a nice bit of bite to them, but again they were left wanting in the flavour department, tasting of very little at all.
My friend's tenderloin was served as a perfect round, with criss-cross grill marks just so. However, the beurre maitre d'hotel that she had chosen to go with it seemed to have been placed on top of the meat too late; rather than melting due to the heat of the steak, the thick disc of butter remained solid. This meant that every mouthful of meat was accompanied by a thick slick of room-temperature butter. While the steak was cooked a perfect, juicy medium, the butter all too easily masked its true flavour. Frites were golden and crunchy, but could have done with being a touch hotter and fresher.
Our side order arrived a good five minutes after the rest of the food, which was a shame. However, the mixture of wild mushrooms - ceps, chanterelles and trompettes amid the melange - were nicely roasted, juicy and seasoned.
From a very traditional dessert list - think apple tarte tatin, lemon tart, crêpe Suzette - we tried a commendably light and billowy chocolate soufflé, but it was let down by its meek flavour; despite its appearance it just didn't deliver enough cacao punch for my liking and felt a bit wasted. Crème brûlée with pieces of rhubarb strewn throughout tasted fine, but the foamy texture and appearance suggested that the custard had been curdled at some point and shouldn't really have made it out of the kitchen.
All that said, on the whole the food was certainly acceptable and Brasserie Angélique has definite potential, but in order to do justice to the French restaurants it pays homage to, tweaks do need to be made.
A meal for two at Brasserie Angélique, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, costs Dh639, including service. For reservations, call 02 811 5666. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito