Just a Little More

Shop 1, 8th Street,
Behind Lamcy Plaza,
Oud Metha,
United Arab Emirates

04th September, 2017

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” – Gordon Gekko

Picture this! You’re in 1980 New York City. Your investment management company is located on the 42nd floor of one of the numerous skyscrapers Wall Street, NYC has to offer. Your corner office overlooks the East River (and the multiple bodies floating on it!) and the overhead sun reflects off the twenty window panes that constitutes one of the four walls of your office. You’re dressed in the best suit, shirt, trouser, and shoes that money can buy. Your hair is well-gelled and combed all the way back. You’re smoking a cigar. You are one wealthy SOB!

Are you happy? Are you content? Of course not! You’re the everyday Wall Street corporate raider who believes that ‘Greed’ – in its infinite forms – is good! Ha! What a cliché!

Gordon – the 80s fictional ‘Messiah of Wall Street’ (potential prequel to ‘Wolf of…) would have you believe that greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And it might have! Who am I to argue with a fictional character? However, there is one greed that has marked an outward surge of mankind. It is a greed I am oh too familiar with. The ‘Greed for Food’!

This is my ‘twenty-whatever eth/end’ blog and so it must not come as a shock to you that I love to eat (I’m not particularly fond of the word ‘foodie’). As do many other people, after all food is one of the key means of survival. You would think then, given the number of restaurants I have had the privilege of dining at, that I would pretty much be content and call it quits. Hells naaa! Clearly, my appetite has yet to be fully satisfied, even if my jean’s left side front pocket feels considerably lighter after every meal.

And so, in pursuit of food and more food (and happyness), a few of my friends and I decided to go for one last summer (supper) dinner before I left for the UK.  The only question was – Where? As is the case with many of my stories, there were a bunch of restaurant names thrown around – none that I will mention – and we eventually landed on one that everyone was comfortable with.

As it was a weekday and my friends are fortunately employed (given today’s market!), we thought it best to meet directly at the restaurant. It was half past seven on a warm summer’s evening and I found myself waiting, with another friend, for our final member of the party to arrive. The restaurant, café rather, was right in front of us and the road was unusually quiet for a place like Oud Mehta. As we waited outside, admiring the quaint café, we heard a sound not unlike that heard when the gun’s trigger is pulled. The eerie silence that filled the road was finally broken and it was slightly unnerving. Of all of the streets in Dubai, why anyone would choose this one to unload their anger is beyond me. Slowly (but steadily) we turned our heads towards the source of the noise. Thankfully, there was no smoking gun! Rather, a Dubai taxi stood by a hookah café, it’s bumper laying aimlessly on the tar road. Well, last I checked, broken down taxis weren’t considered a bad omen!

It wasn’t too long before our third and final party member arrived at the “crime scene”. We waited as the taxi pulled into a nearby alley, so as to clear the road and wait for the pick-up truck to arrive. We entered the café, and as expected for an early weekday evening, it was empty. We eventually sat down at a table by the window and were promptly handed the menu cards. As I read the menu, I wasn’t sure how I could best directly describe the type of cuisine served by the café, especially because there were so many of them. So, let me try to describe it through a relevant analogy. As I looked around the café, as one does when one is deciding what one is going to eat (that’s one too many ones!), I noticed the peculiar wall standing just opposite our table. It was probably the most and only peculiar wall in the entire café. I say peculiar because the wall looked like it belonged at an abstract-only art museum rather than at a quaint, tiny café on an eerie street in Dubai. The wall was a myriad of citrus colours. However, the thing that is most relevant, and probably best explains the multi-cuisine nature of the café, is the cluster of the word ‘Moreish’ printed, in different languages, over the citrus coloured wall. The reason I said it was relevant is because the varied languages is an indicator of the variety on offer at Moreish. Well, that’s it for the analogies.

 ( From top left to bottom right ): Moreish Shawarma Nachos; Burrito Bowl Chicken; Smokey BBQ Pulled Chicken Burger; California Chicken Burrito
(From top left to bottom right): Moreish Shawarma Nachos; Burrito Bowl Chicken; Smokey BBQ Pulled Chicken Burger; California Chicken Burrito

It wasn’t too long before we placed our orders. Like I said, it was a weekend, and two out of the three of us (I’m the odd one out!) had just got done with work, which understandably had built up a huge appetite, and thus we were eager to get some food in our bellies. The first dish to arrive was the shared appetizer – The Moreish Shawarma Nachos. Clearly an Arab twist to a classic Mexican finger snack, it was interesting to see the traditional melted cheese be replaced with a more local garlic and tahini sauce. It was certainly a vital component for a dish with the word ‘Shawarma’ on it. I love shawarmas. I mean, which sane human doesn’t?! So, it was with certain skepticism that I began to pile my tortilla chip with the spiced shredded chicken, jalapeño, salsa, and the sour cream before slightly dipping it into the tahini-garlic sauce. After the first bite, I was no longer a skeptic. While the nachos did miss the added zing of the gherkins, which I so love in my shawarma (and the soggy fries!), the blend of  two cultures didn’t feel puzzling to my palate. Now, that the nachos had our stamps of approval, we began to devour what remained on the plate, and eagerly awaited our main course.

Our three dishes arrived within seconds of each other. We’ll start with the first one to be served – the California Chicken Burrito. One of the most common mistakes small multi-cuisine cafés often make with burritos is that they confuse them with wraps, which is considerably smaller and lighter. A burrito should be thick, heavy, and possess a shape not unlike one resembling a bison’s penis (Thank you Gordon Ramsay for the visual cue!). The one that was brought to our table looked like a proper burrito apart from the fact that it was sliced into half, almost like a wrap! The grill marks on the tortilla wrap was another sign that it was done right. Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for how good it tasted, given that it wasn’t really mine.

The next dish that was served was the Smokey BBQ Pulled Chicken Burger. The burger was served on a wooden plank, with a side of coleslaw and a stainless-steel fry basket filled with crispy golden brown french fries. When it comes to presentation, the burger looked appetizing enough, as well as the fries that were served on the side. However, when I sank my teeth into the burger, there seemed more wrongs than rights. Let’s start with the positives (“the good news”!). The pulled chicken was cooked properly and the burger was toasted and firm. However, that’s as close as the burger came to being perfect (which isn’t close at all!). One of the main issues was the uneven slicing of the burger bun, which meant that there was more bread than chicken during some bites – not the most tantalizing flavour to have on the palate. The other issue relates to the actual filling. The protein itself was doused in BBQ sauce, making it difficult for even a more seasoned chef/critic to identify the meat that they were eating. The overpowering sauce was enough to even prevent me from asking for a dip for my side of french fries. I could barely finish the entire burger, having had to take constant sips of water, which gradually filled my tummy (as well as my bladder!).

The Burrito Bowl Chicken – the third and final main – possesses a name that instructs a chef on the plating of the dish. So, it was surprising to not see the deconstructed burrito arrive in a bowl; rather it arrived on an Asian-inspired curved black plate. Disappointed plating aside, the dish was definitely the largest that we had seen on the table this evening, and so it was appropriate that it was served to the biggest member of our party (he won’t mind, trust me!). The dish is meant to be a deconstructed burrito – the base made of spicy tomato rice, topped with Mexican beans, chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese. Apart from the obvious chicken and tomato rice base, I would not have been able to identify the rest of the components given the amateurish presentation of the dish. The cheese squirted in a childish zig-zag formation was probably the least impressive garnishes that I have seen at a professional level. However, the proof was in the pudding (or burrito!). While I only managed to sneak in a morsel, mostly because I was still reeling from the taste of BBQ sauce in my mouth, the dish was competent in taste. It did taste Mexican, even if the presentation would not have suggested the same. The rice, chicken, pico de gallo, and the beans worked well, as it should. However, given the massive portion, there was a considerable amount still left on the plate after our stomachs had had their fair share of fun.

As we made our way out of the café and towards our parked cars, we said our goodbyes in muffled voices – our stomachs bloated (in a good way!) and our wallets lightened – I noticed the broken down taxi still parked in the alleyway, awaiting its repair. If this were a movie, I would have walked up to the taxi driver and asked him if he had had his dinner. If not, I would then have recommended the one that I had just eaten at, and we both would have gone our separate ways. I agree, not the most interesting script you’ve read. Fortunately, the movie producers above thought the exact same thing and decided to give this a pass.

We started this blog by claiming that greed – in its infinite forms – is good. If this were true, I would have stepped out of the ‘Moreish’ café with my stomach full, yet hungry for more. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. While I still craved the shawarma nachos, the lasting impression of the burger in my head and, most importantly, on my palate was enough to make me go ‘No More!’. So, Gekko, here’s a slight modification suggestion – ‘Greed, to a certain extent, is good!’

Moreish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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