Sat, 28 April 2018
With excellent gastronomy at surprisingly reasonable prices, Gallery 21 restaurant is an aesthetically pleasing dining spot.
The foyer of the Gallery 21 complex has all the trappings of a swanky venue in the midst of the culinary hub, Adliya – unusual furniture, nouveau chic colours and floor patterns that take you to the Mediterranean. But as you enter the restaurant, you’ll find yourself in a place unlike any other. The sight of the floor-to-ceiling garden wall, rife with myriad shades of green (and a smattering of purple) foliage is an arresting one. Pedestalled statues make imposing centerpieces, and white Grecian columns stand out against the indoor greenery.
As we chomped on delicious focacia and pored over the menu, the clouds played with us through the sunroof, casting a shadow for a few seconds to give a rainforest-like feel. They floated away soon enough to restore the atrium’s bright, airy ambience. The restaurant’s repertoire began with a prudent assortment of Ceviche; I opted for the Hamachi. Bite-sized cubes of well-cured Japanese Amberjack came tossed with cilantro, scallions, tomato, red pepper juliennes and a hint of garlic – a good start to the meal. The unusually soft-textured Burrata Cheese (which is my new favourite dairy treat) went perfectly well with red and green peppered tomatoes. The basil olive oil hiding underneath gave it an intriguing flavour kick.
For hot starters, I’m glad I agreed to my colleague’s choice – Eggplant Parmigiana. Layers of delicately fried aubergine slices, basil and parmesan cheese all drenched in a robust tomato sauce, were surrounded by a moss green moat of basil oil. The combination of flavours is so delightful, hardcore carnivores won’t even miss the meat.
Main course number one – Black Lemon Marinated Rack of Lamb came with a lacy, red, savoury tuile delicately tucked between two gloriously grilled cutlets. An incision revealed a juicy blush interior, perfectly complemented by browned button mushroom, microgreens and saffron risotto (which was so well made, I could eat it for three square meals a day).
This was followed by Beef Tenderloin ‘Tagliata’ – mini slices of the tenderest beef were accompanied by a vintage balsamic reduction, generously dressed with rocket salad, olives and shards of parmesan. The intensely potent sundried tomatoes transported me straight to the rooftops under the Italian sun.
Penne Arrabbiata lived up to its global popularity for being pasta cooked just to the right level of al dente, coated in a bright orange-red sauce, garnished with olives and basil. Small pieces of cheesy tuiles lent the dish a chic Gallery 21 feel.
The menu has a whole section dedicated to after-dinner beverages, both hot and cold, but we made a beeline for dessert. I opted for the Vanilla Crèam Meringue Cake, and my colleague went for the Chocolate Mousse. My vanilla cake was blanketed with creamy meringue, torched just until golden brown at the foamy peaks. The light layers of sponge were interspersed with delicate custard. My dining companion’s decadent creation was a rich chocolate crème anglaise, sandwiched between a sweet, dark chocolate cake base and tart raspberry jelly, surrounded by a vibrant berry coulis.
The prices on the menu have recently been revised to give diners a true fine-dining experience that’s easy on the pocket. Given the high standards of ingredients, preparation and presentation of the food, the prices will take you by surprise, as will the unique ambience. No wonder the venue is in such demand to host small weddings and celebrate important milestones. Till we meet again, little enchanted garden!