x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Restaurant Review: Take a working lunch at Make business hub

With its exposed ceilings and quirky light fixtures, this trendy loft-style space feels a world away from the generic coffee shop experience.

Make business hub restaurant is bright and airy with plenty of seating for workers and diners. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Make business hub restaurant is bright and airy with plenty of seating for workers and diners. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Make business hub only opened its doors in Dubai Marina six weeks ago, but has already generated a fair amount of buzz, particularly among the freelance community. A visit there the other day proved exactly why.

Described on its website as an "urban space + cafe + workstations", which aims to feed (quite literally) the needs of Dubai's "mobile workers", the airy, open room - where light streams through the large windows and people tap away on laptops - is a real tonic.

On one side of Make there's a communal dining area featuring large wooden benches, a coffee bar with high stools and the odd sofa. In the more office-esque section, you'll find individual seats complete with laptop trays, three or four large booths - perfect for group meetings - and a number of tables where, thanks to their curved design, strangers can happily work side by side, without feeling as if they are impinging on each others' space.

With its exposed ceilings and quirky light fixtures, this loft style space is unquestionably modern and trendy, but the owners have cleverly stopped short of making it intimidatingly so.

It also feels a world away from the generic coffee shop or brand-named cafe experience, which can only be a good thing. This sense of independence extends to the concise lunch menu (breakfast is also served), which consist of three salad options, flatbreads with four different toppings and three light meals.

This simplicity appealed to me, as did the flavour pairings, which may be tried and tested, but undoubtedly work: confit duck and pear; wild mushrooms, Parmesan; and truffle oil and tuna with soy dressing, for example.

Feeling hungry, my friend and I chose two of the light meals: he opted for the wagyu beef pie and I the roast chicken with root vegetables. In the interest of research, we also decided to share the smoked trout salad. All three dishes were very nice indeed.

The portion of pie that my friend devoured - which came cutely presented in its own little cardboard box - was by no means large, but the puff pastry was crisp and golden, the pieces of braised meat were juicy and slightly caramelised and he sang the praises of the rosemary-infused gravy.

My chicken dish was full of flavour, with bronzed, herb-speckled skin and commendably moist meat underneath. Diced, roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips were soft in the centre and had a very mild heat to them, which I think might have been due to a sprinkling of smoked paprika. The yogurt dressing added a cooling, sour note, but I felt the raw garlic resonated a little too strongly, particularly at lunchtime.

As for the salad, the pretty pile of mesclun leaves was full of life and glistened with a pleasant grainy mustard dressing. Segments of orange completed the richness of the soft, smoked fish, although I do think that for the price, they could afford to be a little more generous in terms of quantity.

The coffee was prepared by a clearly well-trained barista and was very good; in fact, I'd go as far to say that the flat white was exceptional, combining velvety steamed milk and espresso with plenty of character, but not a hint of bitterness.

The portions at Make business hub do err towards the small side and while that may well be intentional - to prevent workers suffering from the dreaded post-lunch slump - the prices remain relatively high. Dh45 is a fairly considerable amount to pay for a lunchtime salad or flatbread and this is, as far as I can see, the only thing that might prevent Make business hub from regularly being packed with return customers.

A lunch for two at Make business hub, Level 1, Al Fattan House Tower, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai costs Dh181, including service. For more information, call 04 392 9216. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and reviews are conducted incognito

eshardlow@thenational.ae