From a simple jar of homemade apricot-orange marmalade to one of New York's favorite restaurants, Sarabeth's has taken a bite of the big apple and is now here for a slice of Dubai. A typical morning at Sarabeth's features yummy mummies nibbling on croissants and Kanye West writing a rap about how he found the pancakes too sweet (yeah, it's got a star-studded rapport with the likes of him, Meryl Street, Taylor Swift, and Brad Pitt). One of the newest additions to City Walk, Dubai's brunching enthusiasts have already left the bistro jam-packed every weekend. If you're aching for a taste of New York without the airfare, head down to Sarabeth's in Dubai.
Sarabeth's doesn't accept reservations, even on the weekends when you most need it. You can swing by and nab a table during the working week, but it's a whole other story on the weekend. Enjoy the full New York experience on Fridays and Saturdays by queuing up for a table.
On a blazing 38 degrees celsius afternoon, we weren't delighted to park at City Walk's numerous public parking strips and walk to Sarabeth's. Lucky for us, not all the residential apartments in the district are occupied – so the building parking lots are currently open to the public. We parked up beneath a neighboring building to the one housing Sarabeth's, and strolled over.
Greeting and seating
A fabulous young orange tree in bloom welcomed us to Sarabeth's before one of the servers could. Pleased that the restaurant had a bunch of vacant tables, we were asked to choose whichever one we liked. A couple of menus were handed to us as a chilled bottle of water made its way to our table, shortly followed by two dainty glasses filled with ice and lemon.
Knowledge and service of the waiter
Served by several waiters, we noticed a pattern in the service. It lacked that signature American charm and charisma that you just don't find in Dubai restaurants. But our waiters were pleasant and polite - happy to address our host of questions about the brand and its renowned fare.
Lunch at Sarabeth's featured a spread of its famous fat and fluffy French toast, the smoked salmon and mustard egg salad sandwich with truffle-parmesan fries on the side, the kale, fennel, and celery Caesar salad, a bottle of local water, a cappuccino, and an espresso.
Sarabeth's menu is compact with a handful of signature sweet and savory breakfast classics accompanied by salad, soup, and sandwich options if you're not a waffles-and-egg kind of person.
Determined to develop my own opinion of the controversial French toast, I dived in not knowing what to expect. The French toast is claimed to be one of the most ordered dishes on the menu. It's received some rotten reviews in the past, and I think it's a bestseller because diners are curious to see if the negative hype is true. Complemented with a generous side of chubby strawberry slices and slivered almonds, the actual French toast tasted like the kind you'd expect at a cute little bed and breakfast. The kind of French toast that's been whipped together with whatever the host could find in their kitchen cupboard, drizzled in golden maple syrup. Indulgently fat and fluffy, like the menu promised it would be, it didn't leave me seeing stars.
My partner ordered a smoked salmon and mustard egg salad sandwich, with truffle-parmesan fries on the side. Unlike me and my French toast, his lunch left him seeing stars. Not one to hand out compliments like Halloween candy, I was surprised when he branded it the best salmon sandwich he's had this year. Served on seven-grain toast, the light fillings mingled with the robust salmon and left him swooning with every bite. The fries were perfect, every single one of them.
Our kale, celery, and fennel Caesar salad on the side was injected with flavor. Showered in gallons of Caesar dressing, it would convince even a fussy child to eat their greens. Modestly sized, a handful of toasted nuts would have given the croutons extra muscle in the crunch department.
We concluded our meal with a cappuccino that was stronger than The Hulk and a bold espresso that wasn't here to play around. It was one of those rare no-nonsense espressos that send a shiver down your spine with the final sip. Ten minutes later, I felt like I could outrun Usain Bolt.
Courtesy extended during the meal
Our server frequently swung by to ensure our glasses were filled and our meal was going swimmingly. He was happy to accommodate our requests, when it came to shifting cutlery here and pots of basil there to land a perfect picture of our lunch. He also guided us to Sarabeth's bakery counter in the corner of the restaurant that flaunted endless shelves of the restaurant's world-famous fruit preserves and confections.
Sarabeth's boasts urban Mediterranean vibes with wood-coated walls, glistening marble tabletops, and luscious pops of indoor greenery. Light jazz played in the background, skimming over the hum of zooming traffic on Al Safa street. Coffee machines wailed in the distance as kids at a neighboring table wailed even louder when mom and dad asked them to drink their orange juice.
Our casual lunch at Sarabeth's racked up a bill of 219 dirhams.
Overall, would you return?
I personally wouldn't come rushing back, but my partner would, purely to spend another intimate afternoon with Sarabeth's smoked salmon and mustard egg salad sandwich.
Lemon ricotta pancakes, fat and fluffy French toast, and green and white stuffed popover.