By Ishita B Saha: The introduction from Cassette, the new bistro in Al Qouz, caught our attention and we took up on a lunch invite combining it with our weekly work meet up. Every week, we sift through the wonderful invites that arrive in our inbox and settle for two or three which seem novel and different. The two reasons for choosing Cassette bistro in our case were – firstly, for its location in The Courtyard; and secondly, for the nostalgic association with the word ‘cassette’ for a generation who has actually used them and the lure of a playlist that promised a bit of retro and quirkiness.
Cassette Bistro: Art, Music, Food and More
We are obsessed with The Courtyard. It is not only one of the oldest buildings in the industrial district of Al Qouz, the old-world charm of cobblestones and the lush green inside this creative sanctuary offers a tranquillity like no other. Cassette is another addition to its creative collection of local homegrown art galleries, small business houses and F&B concepts. The bistro is spacious, bright and modern and has been conceptualised by a design company – H2R Design, whose office incidentally occupies the first floor just above Cassette. We chatted with the owner Haider Madani, who explained how his dream has been brought to fruition after three long years of hard work. Previously the space hosted an art gallery which has now relocated to another space within The Courtyard. Cassette retains the vibe of an art gallery and the designing of the space has been done so that it is an organic extension of the creative space that The Courtyard promises, rather than an intrusion with some overwhelming design aesthetics. The entire ethos of the bistro is in sync with The Courtyard’s own design philosophy of using recycled and repurposed materials.
The concept: Art and music are two important elements here and the high ceilings have been specially designed to provide soft acoustics to its curated playlist. The lyrics, ‘It was all a dream’ (I’m not sure who used the words first in their song, but it was a debut album by American girl group Dream and also by other rappers like The Notorious B.I.G.) hangs over the entrance doorway and that already paves the way for the vibe that one can expect inside. Cassette intends to be an evolving community space for a cool hangout with friends, a convenient work space with colleagues, or a simply a place that welcomes get-togethers with family. Good food, drinks and specialty coffee to keep everyone company. The works of local artists are displayed on the walls and a vintage vinyl collection stacked in a pretty shelf in an interactive shelf – both available for purchase.
The Food: The menu, although fuss free, had quite a lot to offer – from vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, keto to the regular fare. It’s a casual take on French cuisine and offers salads, soups, burgers, tartines and a few classics. We arrived for early lunch and although the breakfast offerings are available throughout the day and looked equally tempting – Classic Benedict, Buckwheat Pancakes, Savoury Waffle with duck confit and more, we ordered off the lunch menu. I ordered Lamb Strap (AED 83/), a yogurt marinated lamb loin served with roast parsnip puree, roasted baby carrots, goats cheese cream, pickled blueberries and lamb jus. Debbie ordered a Cassette Burger (AED 62/), a beef patty with caramelised onions, gherkins and cheddar – all put together inside homemade brioche buns.
The Desserts: Desserts were exemplary – a Sticky Toffee Pudding (AED 45/) made with dates, toffee sponge, toffee sauce poured over vanilla ice cream, and a delicious Lemon Yuzu Tart, the latter being off the menu that day. The Cassette menu dedicates a few ‘specials’ every week, and it was the butternut soup, feta quiche, steak fillet etc on the week we visited. Ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible and big efforts are being made to be environmentally conscious with various sustainable methods a ‘no-plastic’ policy which we love!
Coffee & Beverages: Cassette offered a variety of specialty coffees, something that always piques the interest of my coffee-snob co-partner Debbie! The beans are sourced from homegrown roastery Seven Fortunes and the baristas have been trained by the former as well. We recommend the Shakerato and the Beet Latte, the former being an orange infused expresso that’s served cold and the latter, an Instagram-worthy star! Besides good coffee, one can expect a range of wellness teas, smoothies, milkshakes, mocktails, fresh homemade juices and special healthy juices. The prices ranged from AED 16 for an expresso to AED 23 for the special lattes, including one golden one!
The signoff: We visited Cassette on the week of its opening, and already the space was buzzing and quite full – from word of mouth and all the social media buzz going around. Here’s hoping that the creative space that is, in its own words, ‘inspired from a deeply rooted love for art, design, music, food and the culture that surrounds it’, may continue to inspire all the discerning diners and coffee lovers in Dubai as well!
Cassette Dubai is open from 8am until 6pm daily
The Courtyard, Street 4b/ street 6, Al Quoz Industrial 1
Disclaimer: Debbie & Ishita were hosted guests at Cassette. This compilation has been drawn from their own experiences at the time of the visit. All images and videos have been taken by Team FoodeMag, unless mentioned otherwise.