There are many amazing eateries in Dubai that play second fiddle to a more well-known venue. These sideshows are unsung heroes, as well as being one of the many things we love about our city. Whether you’re working out at the gym, peddling on the track, shopping at the garden centre or even just sweating in the office, there’s often a top-class adjoining restaurant a mere stone’s throw away.
So, why is this? Perhaps due to the heat, all amenities (including great restaurants and cafés) are required to be grouped together in the same building for most parts of the year. There’s also plenty of space, meaning that gyms, for example, aren’t forced into shoe-box-sized spaces, but can really branch out. What this creates is a truly unique dining scene; one in which great venues and quirky dining aren’t mutually exclusive.
This is something I discovered first-hand when I ventured down to Sports City for a workout earlier this week.
In January this year, Fit Republik opened it’s doors in Dubai Sports City. Sandwiched between the Spanish Soccer School and the ICC Cricket Academy, this vast sports complex comes with 12 Olympic weightlifting stations, a 50-metre pool and dedicated gymnastic area, as well as an MMA ring and loads of CrossFit rigs. Needless to say, it’s a personal favourite of ours here at Lovin Dubai, not just for the facilities, but for it’s ‘Power to the People’ mantra.
Oh, it’s also home to one of the best cafés in the city: Nathalie’s. Priding itself on its organic café vibes, and described as “serving healthy and wholesome food that’s prepared fresh daily”, the eatery manages to maintain it’s own identity – creating a real rustic, homely atmosphere – while being directly attached to one of the city’s largest gyms. Seriously, the tables overlook the treadmills.
Ultimately, there’s real attention to detail in both its design and its food. From the stacked whole wheat pancakes (served with your choice of fresh fruit, syrup or Nutella) to the crunchy baked falafel wrap and spicy chicken quesadilla, the café is all about wholesome eats at equally wholesome prices.
If you go early in the morning, you’ll find people having post-workout breakfast before work. Mid-morning see’s groups of chatty ladies (yes, even some Jumeirah Janes) taking a break after a yoga class. At other times of the day, you’ll find the eatery occupied by fitness-junkies enjoying a post-session protein smoothie or much-needed coffee.
Although this place can’t help but have an inherent connection to the gym, you don’t need to be pumping iron or feeling the burn to enjoy Nathalie’s. If you’re craving a healthy breakfast or fancy a light lunch, there’s nothing stopping you swinging by for a bite. But we will warn you: it’ll be difficult to leave without wanting to sign up for a membership.
Ultimately, Nathalie’s represents a lot about Dubai’s bustling foodie scene. As the the city expands, we’re starting to see great little eateries pop up in weird and wonderful places all over town. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg.