My ongoing quest for the perfect lunch spot took me to the Garden Center this week. It inspired me so much that I decided to write about it and add to it the lunch spots that I have discovered in my past 1 year that made me fall in love with either the place or the food or both.
To give you a bit of a back ground, my office is in the heart of an industrial area with only warehouses around me. There are no eating spots within a 10 min drive. The scenery outside is pretty blah and most days the Dubai weather isn’t exactly ideal to sit outside on the bench and enjoy your home made sandwich.
Being a mother of two very young kids I am also an advocate of healthy food and am all for home made food where you know what ingredients have gone in and exactly how it has been made.
But like I said, this 1 hour break between my 8-5 works hours isn’t just a lunch break… it is me taking a break from the stress and pressures that have already built up through the first half of the day. Waking up at sunrise, making sure everyone is dressed up on time (picture me screaming on the top of my lungs not to forget sunhats and jumpers) and fed proper breakfast (read stuffing their mouths with cereal and milk). Making myself mildly presentable, just enough so that I don’t scare my neighbors on my way to the car.
Fighting my way through traffic to reach work on time. My makeup routine consists of three items; Concealer for the constant dark circles under my eyes (#workingmotherissues), eye liner and lip gloss. I also have 3 traffic signals on my way to work. One for each makeup item 🙂
Luckily I have a boss who understands my challenges as a working mother and lets me off the hook with just an angry glare in the morning for being perpetually 5 minutes late.
By the time I am on the desk my inbox is already active and has unread emails from clients and coworkers some sent as early (or late) as 4 am.
Anyways to cut this already long story short, after many hours of BS (for the lack of a better word) from subcontractors, suppliers and client I burst out of the office door exactly at 1:00pm…
Most times I am looking for the following;
- A nice place to sit and maybe read
- Good Healthy food which tastes good too
- Good view is a plus. (A place that can give me a bit of a Zen moment from my otherwise constant-on-the-go day)
- From a background in design, any place that is a bit unconventional and inspiring is a huge bonus.
Below are a few places which will blow your mind away and if you are living in Dubai you will never be able to thank me enough for compiling these gems together.
First and foremost is the place that was my first find. I think I was taken aback more because I was least expecting a place like this in the setting that it was in. This café is also in a warehouse and the urban fabric of this area like I mentioned is very industrial complete with a maze of warehouses and roads lined with truckers and tankers. The entrance to the café is very subdued and underplayed. I had been passing that road almost on a daily basis but never had I noticed it. It was only when another restaurant mentioned to me that they used to cook in Riders café that I put it on google maps and decided to find out what it looked like.
And it was like how I was imagining it and how the name suggests but only better. The feel is a bit rustic yet minimal and industrial. It’s perfect for a quiet lunch alone and they also claim to have one of the best coffees in town. So if you are in Al Quoz and like places that are a bit unconventional & free spirited do pay Café Rider a Visit!
Anyone who is looking for that Zen experience should go here, for lunch or otherwise.. Alone or with company. This is like a literal oasis in the middle of al Qouz. Imagine being seated inside a small cozy structure complete with greenery till as far as you can see, lively chatter all around you and the amazing aroma of fresh food and cakes. It seems to be designed with bringing the outside in concept because when you step into the gazebo like structure enclosed with glass windows.. You would still feel you are in the middle of a vast garden.
The food looks awesome and tastes awesomer (I know I invented a word). It’s definitely instagram worthy J
Book Munch Café:
Out of all the cafés and restaurants listed in my blog today, this is definitely the closest to my heart. It’s been started by a mother whose back ground is the perfect combination of both culinary and literary worlds and it is only but obvious that she would start a place that combines two of life’s greatest pleasures; reading and eating.
This place has such a casual and comfortable reading room ambience that you just wouldn’t want to leave once you are here and the food is absolutely scrumptious. It’s definitely one of the most fresh and filling food I have had in Dubai, and don’t even get me started on the taste. I mean oh my god. Try it to believe it.
What makes Book munch café so much more awesome are its ever ongoing programs and event like book signings, storytelling and readings etc.
Inspite of all said earlier there are still day when I can’t get out of the office even in the lunch hour. Either I am too lazy or I have too many things to catch up on…
So for days like this salad jar comes to rescue. It’s just behind my office so that helps in a quick delivery or take away, which ever I may prefer.. It is the absolute perfect blend of flavors and textures. The quantity is generous and the range that they have to offer at the moment, although small but is very interesting nonetheless.