Boxpark is Dubai’s hippest new hangout. I like to think of it as the JBR on the other side of town (for those who are familiar with the city geography). This snazzy and vibrant, ‘just over a kilometer’ strip is generously dotted with unique retail experiences and vivid eateries through the distinctive aesthetics of funky ship containers. I decided to explore chic Markette on a friend’s recommendation and wasn’t disappointed (that’s just mildly putting it!).
The menu has something for everyone, ranging from Mexican to classic Italian, Asian, Arabic, Indian and even French! The crepe menu is one of the best I have seen so far in my exploration of the wonderful gastronomic landscape of this city! I’m actually wary of places that promise you an ‘everything under the sun’ kinda menu – I mean great on the range but what do you really do well? The easy answer to the little cynic in my head is Markette’s diverse menu, backed by the promise of freshness, heartiness, vibrant ambiance and heart-warming service.
We started the evening with some mojitos (there’s some hipper name for it on the menu) and Fried Squid, Oxtail Fries and the Shish Taouk Platter – a Middle Eastern Chicken recipe that’s widely cooked and eaten in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and other territories around. The oxtail fries I could have given a miss but the other two dishes will not be easily forgotten. Squid despite being a pretty temperamental meat was done to perfection. Crackle-pop crisp on the outside and beautifully succulent inside. The Shish Taouk came generously presented with fresh salad and hummus and I couldn’t fault the cooking of the chicken from any angle!
On the mains – the winners were Chicken Paillard, Granny’s Lasagna cooked with beef and Chicken Teriyaki. Chicken Paillard was not our instinctive choice but was strongly recommended by Sahil – our waiter for the evening. Big thumbs up to him for knowing his menu like the back of his hand. His description of the paillard painted a picture in our mind that instantly convinced us to order it. In my mind, the association of chicken breast is always with a chewy and rubbery texture of meat (which is why it didn’t come as an instinctive choice). I lose to the Paillard experience at Markette though. Granny’s Lasagna was deservingly presented in a comforting casserole over a red and white checks napkin straight out of an Italian grandma’s kitchen and tasted flawless. Chicken Teriyaki came as a wonderful surprise to me. The delicate balance of honey and soy (opposed to chicken dredged in honey as I have come to experience it as most places), combined with the crispiness on the chicken is the thing that separates a dish from being rustic and messy to elegant and contemporary. It’s the thing that makes you dive in for more!
On the flipside, the simple Aglio-Olio though marked with a chilly on the menu (to indicate spiciness) lacked the anticipated hit of chilly that I’d have loved to see on the dish. The giant prawns served with rice was not up to scratch either. Reading the menu, one would assume prawns to be the hero on the dish, but the huge proportion of the accompanying rice really makes you wonder if it’s a prawn dish or a rice dish. Also, the lack of a sauce to tie the dish together just didn’t make the cut for me. Was it inedible? No. Does it drown the fantastic memory of the other fabulous dishes on the table? No. I just probably won’t recommend it or order it again.
Despite that I strongly keep announcing myself everywhere as the one ‘without a sweet tooth’, I never miss desserts on a menu! Markette was an exception, but for all the right reasons! The portions are so generous that the starters and mains didn’t leave space for the desserts and crepes that the place is much known for! But in saying that, generosity isn’t a bad thing! At least this one time, it has ensured that I’m soon going back to explore their menu some more!
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4 | Ambiance: 4 | Service: 4 | Overall: 4
Meal for Two without Alcohol: AED 120 Inclusive of taxes | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes |
Timing Lunch 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM (Sun-Sat); Take-out: 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM (Sun-Sat) | Wheelchair Access: Yes
Address: City Walk Phase 2, Al Safa & Al Wasl Road Intersection, Al Safa, Dubai, UAE
Telephone: 04 3471847
(Disclosure: This review was done after repeated anonymous visits to the restaurant with food paid for by reviewer in full)