Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 13 December 2019

Restaurant review: Rue Royale brings a family-friendly French touch to the Palm Jumeirah

The scallops particularly shine in Michelin-feted chef Mathieu Viannay's menu

The pan-fried scallops served with lemon supreme confit with butter and fresh baby spinach. Courtesy Rue Royale / Anton Pole
The pan-fried scallops served with lemon supreme confit with butter and fresh baby spinach. Courtesy Rue Royale / Anton Pole

Rue Royale is a new restaurant from French chef Mathieu Viannay, which is named after the street that's home to La Mere Brazier, his two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Lyon. Located in The Pointe development on the Palm Jumeirah, the restaurant is owned by Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, an Emirati man with a passion for fine food who travelled the world searching for his perfect culinary partnership. After tasting Viannay’s food in La Mere Brazier, Al Olama knew he’d found his match. The rest, as they say, is history. Olama’s background in medicine is represented in the restaurant’s focus on good-quality ingredients and healthy meals, plus the absence of any alcohol on the premises.

What to expect and where to sit

The chandelier in Rue Royale was designed by owner Olama's wife.  Courtesy Rue Royale
The chandelier in Rue Royale was designed by its Emirati owner's wife

The interiors are gorgeous — enter through the rear door and you’ll walk through a long, tiled hallway that imitates the exterior wall of Viannay’s Lyon eatery. Inside, a bright white facade, beautiful fabrics, intricate artwork and an ornate raindrop-like sculpture — designed by Olama’s wife — set the scene for a sophisticated affair. Things are a bit less formal on the terrace outside, with a tempting glass-covered French patisserie counter, waterside seating split across two levels and music drifting over from other venues at The Pointe.

Who’s eating there

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Courtesy Rue Royale / Anton Pole
Rue Royale is open for lunch and dinner, and will serve breakfast from September

While the food is designed to be "affordable", the menu will mostly appeal to those who aren’t watching their dirhams. Al Olama was keen to create a space where families could dine together and he’s managed to do that, with Emirati and Arabic families appearing to be the key customer base on the evening my dining partner and I visit. Rue Royale is open for lunch and dinner, and will start serving breakfast from September. In August, the restaurant is partnering with Zomato to offer its breakfast menu for home delivery, which includes croissants and other breads, avocado and salmon toast, and various types of eggs.

The menu

After an off-menu amuse-bouche, we begin with the king crab (Dh155), one of the two dishes that this culinary partnership was formed over. Served with celery emulsion and French caviar, the meat is tender and the quality shines through. My only reservation is the slightly bitter aftertaste of the emulsion, but that soon subsides.

For mains, we try the pan-fried scallops served with lemon supreme confit with butter and fresh baby spinach (Dh175). The flavours work well together and the scallops are meltingly soft. The pain de brochet sauce homardine comme a Lyon consists of pike fish from the Quiberon canal. Having never had the freshwater fish before, I’m pleasantly surprised by its slightly sweet flavour. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the homardine sauce; the overpowering lobster taste detracts from the pike. Accompanying baby vegetables are perfectly cooked, but the presentation lacks the imagination displayed in most of the other dishes, with the vegetables floating haphazardly in a well of burnt orange sauce.

Accompanying baby vegetables are perfectly cooked, but the presentation lacks the imagination displayed in most of the other dishes, with the vegetables floating haphazardly in a well of burnt orange sauce.

Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama knew he'd found the perfect culinary partner when he tasted Chef Viannay's pike dish in Lyon. Courtesy Rue Royale / Anton Pole 
The flavourful pike comes in a sauce with an overpowering lobster taste

The wild sea bass (Dh220), for example, is served on a bed of mussels, cockles and razor clams on a serving of green watercress emulsion. It's beautifully prepared — almost crisp on top and flaky underneath. Ending with the Pavlova fruits rouge (Dh60) is a lovely way to finish. Served in a bowl on a frosted glass tray wrapped up with a gold and teal bow, it’s one of the standout dishes of the evening, with the fresh yuzo sorbet offering a sour base to the sweetness of the meringue.

Signature dish

The scallops are certainly worth another visit, but I’d avoid the pike dish unless it’s available with a less pungent sauce (although Al Olama is a fan).

A chat with the chef

Chef Mathieu Viannay. Courtesy Rue Royale 
Chef Mathieu Viannay. Courtesy Rue Royale

For Al Olama, discovering chef Viennay was a fantastic stroke of luck. “I’d been searching all around the world for a good chef and after four years of research, I finally found the right chef with the right food. I’m happy that I waited,” he says.

“Mathieu is not like other Michelin-starred chefs. When he cooks, you really eat. Portions are a good size, but not heavy. I still remember what I ate the first time he served me. It was king crab and we have it here now. He also served me pike fish; after that I immediately called him and we reached an agreement and alhamdulillah now we’re here in Dubai."

For Viennay, the biggest challenge was creating a classic French menu that was entirely alcohol-free. “I knew it was going to be a big challenge — making French cuisine without alcohol - but I like a challenge,” he says. “What’s most important for me is the flavour and the taste of the food, so I do my best to get all the flavours as close to the original dishes in Lyon.”

And the chef’s must-try dish? “It’s hard to pick one, but the fillet de beef rossini [Dh290] served with a truffle sauce and roasted potatoes is a classic.” When it comes to dessert, the chef says the madeleine (Dh60) is special. “We’ve changed this from the classic dish in Lyon where we serve it with yoghurt ice cream. Here, we serve it with camel ice cream instead to incorporate some local ingredients.”

Price point and contact information

Starters range from Dh60 to Dh155, mains from Dh160 to Dh320 and all desserts are Dh60. Rue Royale is open Saturday to Wednesday from noon until 10.30pm, and Thursday to Friday from noon until midnight at The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah. Contact info@rueroyalerestaurant.com or 04 241 2828.

Updated: July 17, 2019 06:06 PM

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