“The concept for Pots, Pans and Boards comes from my childhood memories of a busy family kitchen, cooking in a bustling, comforting environment.” Tom Aikens
Abu Dhabi is seriously lacking in independent cafes so whenever I’m in Dubai I try to visit my ever growing list of venues. This weekend was no exception, Pots, Pans & Boards at The Beach was my suggestion for a much needed post Friday Brunch breakfast and most importantly coffee.
Traffic in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is an absolute nightmare at times which can be off putting when considering restaurants at The Beach but on this occasion we sailed straight through and into the underground parking without any hassle. Pots, Pans and Boards has a prime beachfront location with a nice sized outdoor terrace, it’s still a little hot for alfresco dining so we headed for the air-conditioned interior.
The restaurant is the brainchild of British Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens (youngest British chef to have ever been awarded two Michelin stars, aged just 26), one of the many Brits that have set up shop in this region. Unlike Gordon Ramsay (Bread Street Kitchen), Darren Velvick (The Croft) and Jason Atherton (Marina Street Social), Aikens has opted for the non-hotel laid-back, casual dining approach that attracts a steady stream of Western expats seeking out great food served in contemporary spaces. Although Aikens is not cooking at this restaurant due to his international commitments, he has created the menu and left his concept in the capable hands of British head chef Ibraheem Musleh, who previously worked with Aiken’s in Chelsea, at The Ivy in London and in this region at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina.
We are fans of Aikens Tom’s Kitchen restaurants back in the UK so we were expecting good things of his debut Dubai venue, we weren’t disappointed. The vast open restaurant looks awesome, the industrial style shelves are jammed packed with an eclectic mix of you guessed it pots, pans and boards along with old scales and various kitchen artefacts collected by Aiken’s himself. Favourites from home like jars of marmite, bottles of HP sauce and tins of golden syrup are also displayed, if you have OCD this collection of clutter will properly have you itching to rearrange and bring some order. The level of detail is on point, miniature pans and boards are used for the condiments and butter, tiny glass bottles for milk and enamel plates and cups complete the understated but obviously meticulously thought out theme. The large open kitchen is home to the team of busy chefs, I always find it reassuring when restaurants are happy to let diners see what’s going on behind the scenes, a dedicated kids area keeps the little ones amused so the adults can relax.
The food is quite simply excellent, based on the breakfast that we sampled anyway and the service was warm and welcoming. The European influenced menu of hearty gastro pub style food with a Middle Eastern twist offers a good selection of dishes, well presented and cooked or served like the name says on either a pot, pan or board. The portions are generous, I would be as bold to say that the scrambled egg I ordered is the best I’ve tasted for a long while, the other half had the Mediterranean style breakfast with olives, roasted peppers, avocado, cecina de leon (salted dried beef), cheeses and fried egg beautifully laid out on a board, causing food envy from other diners around our table. The Fresh Start breakfast menu has a good range of egg dishes with a choice of accompanying avocado, sausage, salmon or beef and for those missing a good old British style fry up, look no further. The smoothies were tasty too, the freshly baked bread was irresistible and most importantly on a blurry Saturday morning, the coffee was good.
The lunch and dinner menus are all about sharing, so in theory the more friends you invite, the more dishes you get to sample. The concept is informal dining, rustic dishes that compliment each other, pots, pans and boards filling the centre of the table and everyone tucking in much like a big family meal. Choose from treacle marinated salmon, malt glazed short ribs, steaks and gourmet burgers to name a few of the many things to try or maybe a pimped up mac & cheese with lobster, desserts include good old British favourites fruit crumble, sticky toffee pudding, lemon cheesecake and pavlova – see the full menu here.
The restaurant has just celebrated its first birthday and it’s popularity is certainly not waning. Pots, Pans and Boards is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat with friends but equally as welcoming for families. Venturing back outside to dine ‘AC free’ as the humidity decreases is on the horizon in coming weeks so I expect the terrace will again be popular place to enjoy a sunset dinner, don’t expect a glass of vino or a refreshing beer to accompany your food though as it’s an unlicensed venue.
Pots, Pans and Boards
Location: The Beach, JBR, Dubai.
Telephone: 04 456 1959
Opening Times: Sunday – Wednesday 9:00am – 12:00 midnight, Thursday to Saturday 9:00am – 1:00am
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. First five photos used courtesy of potspansandboards.ae