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  • Writer's pictureHunger Leads

11 WOODFIRE | Wood Fire Cooking Restaurant

11 Woodfire is Chef Akmal Anuar’s new concept (collaborating with Atelier House Hospitality) after Dubai’s 2016 contemporary megahit 3Fils (still leaves us with lasting impressions), and his Goldfish Sushi and Yakitori which just celebrated it’s one-year anniversary. 11 Woodfire’s concept is that of heritage cooking through various traditional woodfire techniques, which we’ve been intrigued to discover. I therefore booked a table for 5 guests to the official opening night on the 1st of January with unusually high expectations!

11 Woodfire Menu
11 Woodfire's Non-Licensed Bar
11 Woodfire's Fire Pit

First impressions are promising. The venue is stylish and contemporary, with a cosy vibe thanks to moody lighting. There is a great selection to choose from on the menu, though some things may feel overpriced. A wine list is definitely amiss here…

Dishes started arriving one by one with the side dishes such as the Potato Gratin strangely being some of the first to arrive, along with starters like the Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna, and only one of our two Beef Tartares (which were actually mains, but we ordered them as starters). It was about 20 minutes later that I realised we weren’t getting the second and enquired to its whereabouts. It was then swiftly brought to our table. The Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna with red onion and foie gras was out of this world, the Beef Tartare with preserved lime, shitake, and jalapeno was superb and for these 2 dishes alone, we will come back!

Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna
Beef Tartare

Our friends ordered the Butterfly Spring Chicken to share with garam masala (the verdict was mediocre), and the Wagyu Burger with gouda, duxelle mushrooms, and siracha, and the Brussel Sprouts with seasonal mushrooms, and Bagna Cauda, which they enjoyed.

Butterfly Spring Chicken
Wagyu Burger
Brussel Sprouts

We ordered the Rack of Lamb with pimento chili rub, and confit of garlic which we asked to be cooked medium rare, but the waiter explained this came however the Chef prepared it. As it turned out, it was very much medium, and though it was still tender and tasty, at five modest slices of meat with absolutely no accompaniments, it was way overpriced at AED225. The Potato Gratin with Parmigiano Reggiano was disappointing, I cannot put it any other way. While the cheesy layer on top was tasty, the potato and sauce underneath was bland mush. On the other hand, the Parsnip cooked two ways, mashed and fried, and served with blue berries, was absolutely superb!

Potato Gratin with Parmigiano Reggiano
Parsnip Cooked Two Ways

At this stage, there is still no sign of the two Bone Marrow dishes with parsley salad, veal jus, and sourdough two of us had ordered an hour ago. My Potato Gratin side was getting cold, so I asked for it to be reheated while they check on the two missing bone marrows, only to be informed by another waitress that the bone marrow wasn’t available that evening. When the waiter who took our initial order was called back, he bluntly stated that we had not ordered them even though the order had been repeated twice. We learnt the second tartare was only added to our bill after we’d enquired about it – so he really did cock it up. A shame for the opening night, as these mistakes did tarnish the overall experience.

And in general, the restaurant’s concept seems confused about whether it’s a sharing or individual dining concept. The menu has nothing about it to suggest the dishes should be shared, mezzeh-style. However, all of the dishes were brought out haphazardly, whenever they were ready, such as the Gratins that came before everything else. And when the waitress brought the lamb, she tried to serve one of the small slices to each guest on the table, instead of simply giving it to the one who ordered it. It was a very muddled process overall.

Although not all is positive, having said this, we will absolutely go back, as I want to enjoy the beef and tuna tartares again, but I also want to try the whole reason of 11 Woodfire existing – for their fire cooking. I shall order with scrutiny when we go next. And hopefully they will have ironed out the kinks in the service by then!

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