Can Copper Chimney stand out in a crowded market?

The iconic Mumbai restaurant arrives in a city that has a problem of plenty with Indian cuisine.

One reason why we don’t get too excited about desi food – and by desi, I don’t mean Indian generally but north Indian specifically, at times spiced up by friendly influences from across the border – is that there are so many options strewn all over Dubai.

 

Copper Chimney – at the Millennium Plaza Hotel on SZR hosted a grand opening event to announce the opening of their first restaurant in Dubai. The event was attended by a host of VIP names including Mr. Hamad Al-Balouki, Chairman of the Board, Mr. Ihab Al Taweel, CEO of Emirates International Group, which owns Cooper Chimney chain and other brands such as Samadi Sweets and Al Bustan Farms in addition to  Mr.Shadi Dawi, the F& B concepts and events management professional in addition to the presence of a well know businessmen, diplomatic corps, artists, journalists, social media influencers . The opening ceremony included an official ribbon and cake cutting by Mr. Hamad Al-Balooki and the attendees .

The restaurant is huge, spanning two levels. The second level, where we sat, has a live kitchen with custom-made tandoors (grills). If you ever wanted to induct a first-timer to the pleasures of the (north Indian) palate, look no further. The menu does a brilliant job of demystifying the varied nuances with its detailed interpretation. Taka-tak Keema Masala Fry, for instance: “minced lamb masala served with hot buttered buns. Taka-tak is the sound you hear in Lahore’s Anarkali Bazaar, where the lamb is prepared on a tawa (a local iron griddle).

The food lives up to the hype. The Jaipur Salad (fresh greens and namkeen – a savoury snack – doused in jaggery, tamarind dressing, topped with pomegranate), the Grilled Burrah Chops (lamp chops marinated over eight hours, seared and chargrilled), and the Almond Phirni Chikki Crumble (chilled rice pudding topped with crunchy, crumbled jaggery nut squares) were standouts.

TASTE
Everything pretty much hit all the right spots – especially the tangy Jaipur Salad and the crunchy Amritsari Shrimps. Both proved that however ubiquitous desi food may be, there’s always room for surprise. The let-down, for me, was the Indian Chelo: couldn’t do justice to the milky rice.

AMBIENCE
Copper Chimney is sprawling. It’s easy on the eye: modernism juxtaposed with age-old authenticity in its furnishings. Lovely props all around, live kitchen. But this is a family joint – evident from the seating and the bright lights – so on busy evenings, it may be a bit noisy.

SERVICE
The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, but the service was not too personalised. Perhaps with the (good) intent to leave us to our own devices (including smartphones), they weren’t around for a lot of the time. But, if you waved at them, they’d fetch up and be most gracious.

PRESENTATION
Indian food – and portions – don’t have that delicate feel to make it a presenter’s delight – though the colours add their own flourish. Copper Chimney does a fair (and thoughtful) job with tried and tested garnishes. First time I “saw” half a baked garlic with desi food!

VALUE FOR MONEY
Quality-wise, this is a top-dollar eatery, but the most expensive item is the Grilled Burrah Chops (Dh74); the marvellous Jaipur Salad, good for two, even three, is Dh27. The famed biryanis all hover around the Dh50 range. Yummy desserts, all below Dh25.

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