It is always refreshing to sit down to a meal and be surprised with how the chef has taken an everyday dish and made it their own. If anything, it’s what makes us come back for more as consumers knowing that it is only here that you will have that one plate in a way that no one else will serve it.
That was exactly the case when I was invited for a special tasting of Chef James-Knight Pacheso’s latest revamp of 3in1’s new menu at the Vida hotel in Dubai. Having been part of the first 10 people to go on this exciting journey I felt honored as I listened to his passion behind each dish and how he had chosen to highlight each ingredient in a unique way.
Pacheco has worked under some of the best chefs in the world (including Gordan Ramsy); no stranger to the kitchen, he was brought in to the Vida family to add to an already existing stunning venue, developing what is now a matching menu.
His mission is simple: how to give a different look at Arab cuisine, creating different fusions using influences and ingredients from around the world.
We started our meal with what Pacheco has coined as the Super Q, and his take on what is known as oriental salad in most Arab cuisines. His super food version is a mesh of both black and white quinoa, charred capsicum, flaked almonds, kale, broccoli and pears. The dish is far from ordinary and would suffice on its own as a light snack, leaving you satisfied. It is priced at a descent price point of 45 AED.
We then were braced with another interesting take on a modern day dish, roasted sea-bass served with thyme potatoes, ratatouille and capers. Although the fish was cooked to perfection I must say it was the other tastes on the plate that really had me wanting more.
The ratatouille adding reference to a more French cuisine, yet still paying homage to the Arab world by using what would usually be seen in a tomato based tajine. Tucked under the sea-bass so that you get the full bite, you are met with a mix of flavors that are truly pleasing to one’s palette.
The side of potato is once again a simple take on a roasted potato, yet accented with crumbled-aged olives and thyme. The mix between the two textures fits perfectly, completing the dish and staying true to the elegance the dish has to offer. Priced at 130 AED this could work for either lunch or dinner, filling on its own or paired up with a light mezza to start with.
A mixed grill is standard on most menus across the Middle East, each served with its own variation yet mostly comprised of lamb, veal and chicken. I especially appreciated this dish although the portion looked quite small when compared to most of its kind but it actually breaks down as the perfect amount for one person to enjoy.
Laying on a bed of Sultana rice, an array of lamb chops, lamb kofta, veal skewers and shesh tawouk. Garnished with ground peanuts and pomegranate and a piece of pita, it is served with a Samble Olek Mayo. Priced at 180 AED it is definitely worth every bite, especially that aftertaste of sumac that just makes everything better.
Last but not least, Pacheco’s butterscotch, popcorn cheesecake with a peanut base gives you that perfect dessert for two. The butterscotch keeps the dish rich, yet is balanced with the cheesecake itself. Paired with an espresso this meal left me impressed and looking forward to my next visit.
I would give this meal a 4 out of five based on price point, taste and overall value. I would have liked to see more out of the fish dish, and although the desert was very pretty on the eyes I felt the popcorn and the peanut mix was a little overwhelming, hence the sharing for two!
WE SAID THIS: The menu is now available at the Vida Hotels 3in1, a must try!