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A French canteen in the Saudi desert

Winter at Tantora is, above all else, an opportunity for the Saudis to show the world their level in which they master the art the desert. In addition to displaying some of the kingdom's most prized relics, such as the Madain Saleh site, the festival organizers have also gone all out on the rest. Restoration is no exception to the rule.

The arrival at the Cantine du Faubourg, the famous former Parisian restaurant now based in Dubai, gives the impression that the mountain itself is opening up to shelter visitors from the harshness of the desert.

 

Tuna Ceviche and Truffle Burrata

A light breeze, familiar aromas, the sweet voices of Charles Aznavour and Amy Winehouse escapes from the speakers, make the ephemeral restaurant, nestled in a canyon, a truly rocky alcove, where taste buds are as amazed as the eyes.

On the menu one find sesame tuna ceviche, accompanied by avocado and flavoured with a sweet onion vinaigrette (we order for more) or the traditional (but still delicious) grilled lamb chops, and the “mac and cheese from my childhood” (truffled, however). All of this is complemented by non-alcoholic cocktails (the famous mocktails), which are as ingenious as they are tasty.

 

Two Frenchmen in the desert

The managers, Slim Beusek and Geoffrey Decrouy, both French nationals based in Dubai, are not new at this. “We’ve already made a number of pop-ups, including one for Jeddah Season. The challenge is to be able to adapt to the terrain which, however magnificent it may be, presents some constraints. For example, the kitchen is very far away, temperatures can drop below zero, so we had to figure out how to make sure the plates arrive hot. It wasn’t easy, but we’re satisfied with the result.

 

It should be noted that, if we found the experience incredible, it is indeed under the stars that the setting reveals all its’ splendour, says the restaurant manager…