At Richy's, salad is a big thing. On its website (www.richys.ae), it even goes as far as to describe the dish as "courageous", explaining: "Because the salad got fed up with being served on the side, like an after-thought, it decided to up its game a notch." A touch contrived perhaps, but given that this is a home-grown company offering healthy lunch options, I wasn't going to be put off.
The next couple of lines of its manifesto explain that the salad also demanded that "its ingredients be chopped up into smaller pieces, where the lettuce wouldn't take up all the volume. Then, it was adamant about integrating more respect for proteins".
Unfortunately, this is where it failed. Despite featuring plenty of different ingredients, the Cobb salad that I had for lunch the other day was distinctly lettuce-heavy and both protein elements were poor. Cubes of chicken looked and tasted processed - unnaturally white and smooth - and the grated Cheddar lacked flavour and had a tacky, greasy feel.
That said, slices of boiled egg were creamy, the avocado was ripe, half moons of cucumber added crunch and the lettuce, although abundant, was fresh. A properly piquant, thick blue cheese dressing (served on the side) was also nice and justified the calories it no doubt bought to the party.
The fattoush medley that my friend ordered was better, though: a bowl of brightly coloured flavours and ingredients - crisp, peppery radish, tart, juicy pomegranate seeds, a hint of parsley and mint, dots of labneh and crunchy croutons. The only complaint was that, once again, the lettuce provided too much padding.
The soup of the day happened to be broccoli and quinoa (it also serves both tomato and lentil as standard), so we tried that, too. It was an attractive pale green, tasted wholesome, soothing and clean and the quinoa added bulk and a pleasant nuttiness.
As well as eight signature salads and seven classic ones, Richy's also offers a build-your-own option, with plenty of choice. The back wall of this small JLT spot is taken up by a glass counter displaying meat, cheeses, raw vegetables, fruit, salad toppers and dressings, which can all be tossed together to order. You're instructed to choose your salad bed (lettuce base), select six ingredients (from the array of fruit and veg), top it with add-ons (dairy, meat and nuts) and then dress it as you please.
The cafe itself is small and narrow and seems to operate primarily as a takeaway. It's a perfectly pleasant place to pull up a stool and have a quick bite to eat, though, particularly if you're dining alone. Light floods in through the windows, which offer views out over the water and the feel is young and modern, with white stools, bleached wood and flashes of bright colour.
Richy's certainly has potential. It feels enthusiastic and a little bit different, and this part of JLT is gradually becoming a bit of a restaurant hub: Nais Italian Kitchen is next door, Hanoi Cafe is around the corner and Sheikh & Shake is nearby.
The staff, meanwhile, were friendly and accommodating and the chef very politely enquired as to whether I enjoyed my soup. While the food isn't perfect, the only thing that really let it down was that both the chicken and cheese had a processed feel about them. If Richy's can ensure that it's sourcing quality produce across the board, then it deserves to do well.
A light lunch for two at Richy's, HDS Tower, Cluster F, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai costs Dh91, not including service. For delivery orders, call 800 742497. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito