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The café craze at JLT – Nofara

Nofara Cafe JLT Dubai [1]If there’s one district in Dubai worth salivating over these days it’s Jumeirah Lake Towers, aka JLT. This block after block of gleaming skyscrapers is becoming a little bit of a foodie destination with so many new cafés, restaurants and take-away joints popping up, since the likes of Nais Kitchen, [2] Hanoi [3] and Homey [4] have made their mark. If only JBR Walk would do the same – there’s only one spot [5] on that strip FooDiva recommends. But digressing… back to JLT, Nofara Café with its sprightly, utilitarian purple and white themed interior is oddly quiet on a week night last week, albeit over Ramadan. It’s a cosy spot with table setting aside, a few sofas and quite separately, a glassed off shisha room.

There’s a deli counter with the odd salad, wrap and quiche but the selection is rather limited, so you’re better off ordering à la carte like we do. That aside the desserts on display, gluten-free included, look rather appealing. Perhaps the breakfast and lunch selection is more comprehensive? The international menu is divided into starters and mains, but having ordered what we did, the portions are all impressively large and designed for sharing.

My fellow diner’s Arabic mezze platter arrives with individual servings of houmous, babaganoush (bursting with fresh chunks of aubergine), chunks of fetta in a robust herb and olive oil marinade, olives and pickles – accompanied by crisp slithers of toasted pitta sprinkled with zaatar.

His goats cheese tart has a light and fluffy filo pastry base topped with a generous slice of slightly warm goats cheese and lashings of fig and onion marmalade. Personally I would have preferred just a dollop of the sweet preserve to allow the goats cheese to shine through, whilst my dining companion would have liked a stronger flavoured goats cheese. Testament to how food is so subjective!

Arabic mezze platter [6]Goats cheese tart [7]Baked beef meatballs [8]

My beef meatballs are baked in an ever so slightly spiced tomato sauce and topped with crumbled fetta and whole toasted almonds. The meatballs are a little overcooked in my opinion making for a drier texture. Minced beef has so much more flavour and juice when served medium. I had asked for the freshly baked bloomer style bread to be replaced with sweet potato fries but both arrive. Gosh these are good, crispy on the outside and mushy digging in – more like chunky chips. Dunked in a side order of a a decadently rich creamy pesto dip, I polish these off pretty pronto. The hot dishes are cutely and cleverly presented on wooden chopping boards. Top marks for the freshly squeezed apple and lemon juices.

Nofara Cafe JLT Dubai [9]Service whilst sweet and accommodating is a tad tardy with our food taking a rather long time to arrive – given we are the only punters dining there’s no real excuse. But Nofara does require diners to liven the space up and give it some much-needed buzz. Perhaps it’s the Ramadan lull or is it just more worthy of a lunchtime spot? At just over AED 100 a head, our meal is reasonably priced and the wholesome, nourishing food in a contemporary café setting is good enough to make me return – especially with free wi-fi.

In the meantime though, just above, sits Fraiche, [10] a new French-Canadian bistro currently in ‘soft opening’ officially launching after Ramadan. If a private menu tasting earlier this year is anything to go by, this newbie will be one to watch. I must also get round to munching at Korean joint, K Pop Chicken [11] and Indian, Memsaab. [12]

Any other new dining spots worth looking out for at JLT? Do you choose to dine in this area?

Nofara Café [13] is located at Jumeirah Lake Towers, Cluster Y, Swiss Tower – opposite Damas (at the start of JLT). T; +971 4 4322023. Price per person with juices and water AED 104. Open daily 8am – midnight including over Ramadan. On that note, here’s a round-up [14] of independent eateries open for daytime dining in Dubai over the holy month.

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x