When we walked into the grand lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, the gloved and face-masked staff were quickly on hand to take our temperatures. A delicate nod indicated that we passed the test. Fortunately, as we were extremely excited to try Dubai’s favourite Portuguese restaurant.
We were then directed to the elevators, which would take us up to the sixth floor, where chef José Avillez’s first international restaurant project is housed, Tasca. The dimly lit room is filled with chatter and vibrant yet not distracting deep house, and looks out onto the rooftop pool and Arabian sea. We arrived just a little too late to catch the sunset: we certainly will not make that mistake again.
Before showing us to our seats, they took our temperatures again – every staff member is clad in protective gear, as are those in the open-plan kitchen which can be seen from every angle. We knew we were in good, safe hands here.
As we take our seats and scan the QR code to look at the menus on our own phones, the waiter explains that its now company policy for us to pour our own water from the bottle, not that we minded at all. Especially as we were trying to make the hard decision of what to order: the Michelin-starred menu had plenty to choose from. Luckily, they favour a tapas-esque sharing style of dinning at Tasca, so it made the choice evidently easier.
To start, we opted for Algarve prawns ceviche, tuna tartare, tempura cod cake, garlic prawns and the fried golden eggs. Initially we thought we may have over-ordered, but we were quickly reassured the sizes are small, so this was perfect. And it was. The tuna tartare was a unanimous favourite, it came in a delicate cone, and which each bite the raw fish, along with the vivacious chillies, grew in flavour. The light and delectable cod cakes were also noteworthy – even the house bread had us enthusiastic, as it is served with smoked butter and lupini bean hummus. We attempted to show some restraint, however, and made sure to save room for mains - and desert.
We then ordered the 'lageirio’ roasted octopus – prepared to perfection, as the garlic and potatoes its cooked with didn’t overpower its own flavour – and half blue lobster with a side of grilled vegetables and roasted eggplant. We were full of course, especially as we had been washing down our food with red wine sangria and the signature mocktail, 6th Floor – a non-alcoholic iteration of Portugal’s favourite pisco sour. However, we still had to finish the meal with chef José Avillez’s take on the traditional pastel de nata, and we were glad we did. It was a scrumptious treat served with coffee ice cream on the side.
For more information, call: +971 4 777 2231 or visit mandarinoriental.com
Find the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai at Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Dubai