If you happen to be in DIFC at lunchtime, you won't find yourself short of dining options. Zuma provides high-end Japanese, La Petite Maison offers Mediterranean food with flair and the chefs at Gaucho sear off steaks galore. Meanwhile, Dome, More Cafe, Yo! Sushi and many others offer more casual fare.
In short, the newly opened cafe 1762 faces some serious competition. And yet, if the queues at 1pm on a weekday are anything to go by, there seems to be plenty of business to go round.
Perhaps it's because this place has a bit of character that it is proving so popular: exposed brick walls are lined with shelves displaying quirky trinkets; newspapers and magazines spill out over a large, farmhouse-style table; wooden benches line one side of the room and slate floors add an industrial edge. It feels relaxed and rustic, yet still contemporary.
The place markets itself as a gourmet deli. As well as the fixed menu (offering sandwiches, bagels, salads and a couple of pastry options), there is also a large chalkboard listing the daily specials: soups, pies, sandwiches and wraps. The service, meanwhile, is friendly, efficient and perfect for lunchtime; you order and pay at the counter and it's not long before the food is delivered to your table.
I had the quiche of the day, which on that particular Tuesday was a very nice broccoli and Cheddar one. The pastry was golden, buttery and crisp, the wobbly filling had been generously spiked with cheese and the broccoli still had bite and life to it. The quiche had also been properly warmed through (as opposed to just being quickly basted with heat and left cold in the centre) and was served with fresh mixed salad leaves and a decent balsamic dressing.
My only criticism is that it was presented in a little cardboard box, which although cute, made eating unnecessarily fiddly and the bottom went soggy as the dressing seeped into it. It might be an idea to offer plates to customers eating in.
As soon as my (British) friend spotted the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding wrap on the menu, he refused to look any further. Luckily for him, his stubbornness paid off. The Yorkshire pudding was just the right thickness - thin enough not to be stodgy, yet still capable of supporting the strips of medium-rare roast beef, spinach and slick of punchy horseradish cream within.
With our lunch we drank two types of lemonade: a zingy mint one and a slightly sweeter, pale pink version. Both had been decanted from large, pretty glass jars and tasted homemade. We also shared a slice of pleasantly perfumed, moist, syrupy orange cake for dessert.
We did have a couple of quibbles, though. Salads are displayed in a glass fronted fridge by the counter and tend to look rather bedraggled by late afternoon; they could perhaps do with being replated and refreshed after the lunchtime rush.
When we visited, the first two items we chose (a smoked salmon and labneh bagel and hoisin duck wrap) had already sold out, suggesting, to me at least, that the food is not prepared on-site. Otherwise why couldn't it be made as and when ordered?
That said, the quality of food being served here is far better than at the ubiquitous chain cafes that line so many streets and 1762 is certainly somewhere I'd return to.
Lunch for two at 1762 in DIFC, Dubai, costs Dh118, not including service. For more information call 800 1762. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and reviews are conducted incognito.