If you’ve lived long enough in Dubai, you know that the city has a smorgasbord of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. From Indian street food to casual dining spots and trendy cafes there are options galore. Now, add Avatara to your roster of vegetarian restaurants to sample in Dubai. Especially if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool carnivore and can’t fathom a meal without meat, seafood, or poultry.
This new fine-dining restaurant, in fact Dubai’s first and only fine-dining vegetarian restaurant, has set out to elevate vegetarian dishes to gourmet standards. Even the most staunch non-vegetarians are going to be swayed by how exquisite these dishes look.
Avatara is the latest venture from the same F&B stable that’s developed culinary hits such as Tresind, Carnival by Tresind, and Tresind Studio. Occupying Tresind Studio’s former spot at Voco Hotel (it has now moved to Nakheel Mall), this new dining experience is described as a vegetarian degustation experience and has Tresind Studio’s same personalised, intimate setting that can seat only 24 guests at a time.
Helmed by Chef Rahul Rana, formerly one of Tresind’s executive chefs, Avatara’s tasting menu promises to change the way people view vegetarian dining. The Tresind legacy combined with Chef Rana’s strong background in vegetarian cuisine and patisserie means diners should be prepared to be wowed by some gloriously plated vegetarian dishes.
Ps: Chef Rana’s grandfather was a chef to the Maharaja’s of yore
The 15-course tasting menu uses seasonal ingredients as its muse and sources all the produce and dairy from local farms. Plenty of green points for sustainability.
But what has been cinching Avatara a golden star is how it has been using these ingredients to cleverly dismantle the myths surrounding vegetarian food and how it can’t be as experimental or imaginative as meat-based fare.
How do they achieve that?
To begin with, it’s a licensed vegetarian restaurant, and like any platter of grade A wagyu beef would be served, the breathtaking dishes are accompanied by a wine pairing menu so you can savour each dishes’ beverage match made in heaven. A dedicated cocktail menu full of creative quenchers is also offered.
Then there’s the ingenious blend of Indian rituals that weave its way through the 15-course menu seamlessly, like the prologue and epilogue of a story. Sticking to these traditional nuances helps the menu become the journey it seeks to be. You’ll start off with a spoonful of Naivedhya, the sanskrit name for a dish served as a holy offering. It’s reimagined in Avatara’s menu as makhan malai (clotted cream from butter), mishri (rock candy) and saffron (see below).
Intrigued? We haven’t even arrived at the mains yet which are rife with daring interpretations of root vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits your wildest dreams couldn’t fathom.
Avatara’s fusion elements show up in newfangled creations such as Achari broccolini, tomato relish, and crispy kale – western veggies alien to an Indian dinner table.
It’s fair to say that they’ve fanned out far and beyond the bounds of traditional Indian vegetarian cooking, much like the peacock feathers that are the restaurant’s chosen motif and pops up in the decor and interiors.
Is Avatara’s gourmet food as enchanting as the majestic bird’s train rattling?
Visually, a thousand times yes. We’d be in tears having to eat something so delicate and dainty-looking.
Furthermore, coupled with the glowing reviews of Dubai’s vegetarians (and some non-vegetarians) and Avatara’s inclusion in the prestigious Dubai’s Michelin Guide 2022, emphasises just how equally spellbinding the flavours are too.