This New Restaurant In JLT Is The Best Thing To Happen To French Cuisine In Dubai For Years

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Residents of JLT or those that work in the area have really been spoiled in the last 12 months. With the opening of Nola, Cocktail Kitchen and a host of other little restaurants, there is less of a need to leave the towers for business lunches, dinner or even nighttime entertainment. 

Now we are treated to a new French restaurant called Couqley, which had a soft opening just before Ramadan . 

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Couqley in JLT seems to master the simplicity of the art of french cooking.

It’s so hard these days to find a nice restaurant with rich sauces and flavors that are the foundations of what has made French cuisine so popular over the years. A nice rich uniquely prepared sauce with the quality of the product coming to the fore, that’s what good French cuisine is all about. 

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Chef's inspiration

Couqley is run by Aegis Hospitality, of Stereo Arcade Fame. The restaurant first opened in Lebanon, where there are two branches, in 2007. The executive chef is native Frenchman Alexi Couquelet, the place was named after him, just shortening it to make it easier on the tongue. Its a french bistro and does the the traditional French things perfectly. 

"It was a dream of mine to open my first restaurant with traditional dishes inspired by my grandfather. Couqley Dubai is very special to me and exciting at the same time because this is my first restaurant that I've been dreaming about opening abroad, outside of Lebanon. It's the beginning of a new adventure for us at Couqley to be in the UAE and eventually expanding to the GCC and beyond'.

Alexi Couquelet, Executive Chef at Couqley

Traditional French Cuisine

This unique restaurant remains true to the quality of the origin and the goodness of what you are eating. Here are 5 reasons you need to visit Couqley

1. Venue

It’s located in Cluster A in the Movenpick, there UBK and Pizza Express are. You can enter from the lake level. The front has some nice trees and lighting in the evening, and the exterior looks like a restaurant on the side of a busy street somewhere in France. 

There is a real Parisian flair and atmosphere to Couqley. The hostesses are dressed immaculately in red dresses. You enter where there are some tables in a covered area, again sounded by greenery before reaching the bar. Diners can choose to sit on the high tables of enjoy a cocktail at the bar. There is another dining area that has a cozy feel to it.

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2. The choice of drinks

“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine”. When you see this quote on the menu, you know that this is a place that takes their wine seriously. I like a full bodied red wine and usually opt for a merlot or a malbec. Here we choose the blended Bordeaux option on the menu and were so pleased with it, we would return just for the wine!

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3. Poêlée de Champignons

The mushroom dish to start with is reminiscent of the good old fashioned duxelle, which was prepared by small piece of mushrooms and onions sautéd together and enriched with herbs and cream. This is a more modern version with chunky pieces of mushroom cooked the same way, there could have been a mixture of mushroom in this, Cèpes, Morilles, Chanterelles, champignons de paris, which were definitely there. They were sautéd together in butter, with cream added in and reduced to become a thick consistency, served in a crispy puff pastry.

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4. Entrecote

It’s refreshing to see an Entrecôte cooked a-la-france in this part of the world. The Entrecôte is the part of meet that is between the two ribs and it needs a lot of tender loving care. The French do it best. They mostly sauté it in butter, and when it’s cooked the coat it in cream butter on both sides and leave it rest. This steak seemed to be treated the same way, it was absolutely delicious with a traditional madeira sauce on the side bringing out the best of the flavor. 

5. Pain Perdu

This is a richer fuller version of french toast, it used be for a convalescent for a child but has come back in popularity like the revival of the bread and butter pudding. What makes Pain Perdu most unique is that is uses fresh brioche as opposed to stale bread. It’s soaked in eggs and milk batter, fried, covered in icing sugar and served with berries and ice-cream. You will need a sweet tooth for this dish but it melts in your mouth and is well worth it. 

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Affordable, tasty and just getting started

Menu, for two starters, two mains, two deserts and four glasses of wine the bill came to 715 AED. Reasonably for a great evening. Find them here on Facebook or here on Instagram

I work in JLT and spend a lot of time here, so I'm delighted to have this option for dinner and will be introducing a business lunch later this year. It would be great if all neighborhoods in Dubai had such options.

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