There was an ongoing undercurrent going around the Dubai foodies regarding Indian cuisine which wasn’t your traditional Indian. With preconceptions of heavy naan bread and the inevitable regret that follows a rich feast, my judgement was clouded. That is, until I kept getting enticed by some incredible Instagram shots showing what you could actually experience in the world of Indian cuisine.
What we love about Passion F&B, the company behind Trèsind, is that they are indeed focused on 3 things: passion, food, and beverage. As soon as I was in touch with the marketing brains Kevin Joshi, it wasn’t just a case of booking us in for an experience, but actually getting to know the brand. I headed to their offices where we spent the next hour discussing the brand and the highs and lows of being in Dubai before Bhupender Nath, the founder, casually walked in. With a huge hearty smile, he continued on with the conversation, asking opinions and chatting like a long lost friend.
In short, this isn’t just about an Indian restaurant, modern or not. This is about unravelling a story and experience and revealing the heartbeat within the brand.
Trèsind Dubai is in a relatively unassuming yet non-offensive hotel. No, you’re not driving up a sweeping driveway, dazzling with the finest Ferraris and glitz and glamour. Instead, you’ll be taking a slip road off Sheikh Zayed Road to the Nassima Royal Hotel and heading into an ordinary lift. But keep an open mind because you will be delighted.
You’ll feel the love the moment you enter. The whole staff experience is unfaltering, and I don’t say this lightly. With 20 years in recruitment and employer branding, I am on this like a hawk and can categorically confirm that the warmth of the staff was second to none. They actually made me feel as if I was part of a family. Although I had dining companions this night, I could easily go to Trèsind as a solo foodie and still have the best experience.
When you walk in, you’ll be in a room of Ralph Lauren blue, warm and welcoming. There are chic, modern chairs on one side, inviting you to slow down and have a seat; to the left, you’ll pass through to the bar area, which is where you’ll find the entrance to Trèsind Studio. (It’s the smallest restaurant in Dubai with only 18 seats and on our agenda for our next visit.)
The open-plan layout leaves plenty of space to move around and each section easily flows to the next. The design is upscale and modern and indicative of the cuisine you’re about to experience. The only thing I might recommend is to remove the large table holding the water as it reminded me of a posh breakfast-style table. Instead, though it may be meant to be minimalist, it seems like they’re missing the opportunity to scatter the frames around the restaurant.
For me those frames could be telling the story of Bhupender and his team to date – it would be lovely to have the brand brought to life instead of left empty. After all, part of a good brand story is being able to form an emotional connection with your audience – something much easier to do when there are names and faces to show. From meeting the team at the office to getting to know them in person, it felt like a relationship beginning to flourish and made me connect with them on a personal level, not just as another trendy restaurant.
While it was fairly quiet the night we visited, we still got a good feel for the vibe and can only imagine it’s amplified on busier nights. The audience was made up of couples and friends heading out to supper together and I could also see a good mix of locals and expats.
As for Trèsind Studio, although we haven’t been yet, we have a feeling it will be awesome for social or corporate gatherings, given its intimate seating size. I think I smell a #caviarsociety or #caviarcollab event in the near future!
Before you sit down for dinner, I highly recommend heading to the bar for an aperitif. Anna, my bestie and fellow #rebelleboss, and I plonked ourselves down and our partners had to gently nudge us 1.5 hours later to see if we might be able to head over to the table (finally!). We were addicted not only to our bartender, who was an incredible mixologist and storyteller, but also to the wow-worthy cocktails.
We’re not talking about a standard pour-and-shake. We’re talking about Jamaican tea strained through birdbaths and raspberry dust; gin and tonics served with a twist and the negroni with an Trèsind-branded ice cube. If cocktails aren’t your taste, the wine list has a fantastic selection and is well-priced, too.
The cuisine here is, in a word, exceptional. If you’re thinking poppadums, heavy naan, and masalas, then think again. The whole meal from start to finish was utterly delicious and Chef Himanshu Saini has put together both a la carte and tasting menus (of which there are both vegetarian and non).
We began our journey with a Trèsind tradition, which is an aromatic, smoking pot to refresh the senses. Then we moved onto a version of English Breakfast Tea, which was a wild mushroom chai with dehydrated mushroom and truffle milk powder served in tea cups.
After whetting our palates with this teaser, we moved onto a spread of starters, which included dishes like tandoori lamb chops with rosemary reduction and butter pepper garlic prawns, cooked table side by a chef who charmingly chatted with us while explaining what he was doing. There are several dishes across the menu that are cooked at the table and we loved this extra form of entertainment/learning as we ate…Trèsind, what do you say to having us in for a cooking class, pretty please?
Where Trèsind steps it up is with the presentation. We ordered duck rotis for a starter, where the little rotis came hanging on a “washing line”, set atop a bed of grass to complete the image. We each plucked one from the miniature clips holding them and made our own hors d’oeuvres-sized duck rolls, a really lovely Indo-Chinese fusion. The yuzu and blueberry sorbet (the palate cleanser) was the scene stealer, though. It was served with an entire little lemon tree, on top of moss, with dramatic “mist” shrouding it to make it look like early morning fog rolling away.
For the main course, we nibbled our way through dishes like chettinad chicken curry with Thai black rice appam. If you order off the a la carte menu, there’s something for everyone, including vegetarian dishes like peanut butter paneer medallions and mixed vegetable kofta (some of which are specifically for the Jain diet) along with plenty of meat options like various biryanis (chicken, mutton, and prawn), wagyu satay, and rice crusted sea bass.
The last part to the meal was the killer OMG-don’t-think-about-the-calories deconstructed black forest cake. Also prepared at the table, this intense dish had chocolate soil, chocolate brownie chunks, fudge, caramel sauce, frozen whipped cream, hot chocolate sauce, red currants, cocoa powder…
As each new ingredient was introduced and added to the growing mountain of dessert, we were all torn, knowing full well we’d devour this and then spend the next week repenting at the gym. I’m not a big dessert fan but even I couldn’t stop myself from enjoying this. Before digging in, the entire table made a public apology to Kev, our personal trainer who works with all of us.
What did help is that the portions for the rest of the meal were very reasonably sized, so we weren’t feeling that uncomfortable fullness that often occurs with multi-course meals.
All in all, Trèsind is great value for money, and you’re guaranteed to be wowed by flavours, presentation, and service. Due to the location, I’d say once you get there, just stay there and make an entire evening out of it. Give yourself plenty of time before your reservation so you can enjoy a cocktail or two and then have dinner at an easy, relaxed pace before rolling yourself home after a full night of indulgence.
The team all deserve a high five – they really do make the Trèsind experience exceptional – and we wholly support them in this crazy city called Dubai. Now we just need to check out Trèsind Studio and Carnival by Trèsind!
Level 2, Nassima Royal Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai