I wanted our food to emphasize on farm-fresh ingredients, along with the most flavourful palette. Our goal was to design an unforgettable meal in a simple space with an energy that makes you cherish the little things that form a bigger picture and would encourage our guests to relax and socialize.” – Fadi Al-Said
The Concept: It’s the second time that I’m at Slab at La Mer. The first time was literally a few days after opening and soft launch menu was being served. Regardless of this, I was impressed at the quality of food, the flavors on my plate and the gorgeous presentation. On the first visit, owner Fadi Al-Said explained that they were waiting for their new chef to start, and that I should visit again as there were new dishes to be introduced to the menu. Fadi it turns, out is a seasoned traveller and passionate foodie, and whilst all of the above is true in terms of his vision, it’s clear to see that there’s a good mix of his travels and favourite foods intertwined in the menu too.
Slab was inspired by the idea of celebrating the simplicity of food and fresh produce at an affordable price, in a casual, relaxed and fun ambiance. I think they’ve delivered that, and then some! Located at the far end of La Mer, Slab boasts a decked outdoor terrace which blends seamlessly to an elegant indoor area. The large glass windows and doors allow you to feel like you are dining outdoors even when you are sat inside and vice versa. The kitchen is open plan and you can easily watch the chefs at work, which is something I love to do. In this instance it’s fascinating as it’s not the largest of kitchens and there’s a fair bit going on right in front of my eyes. Service is calm and ordered and I’m at home watching the action from my table. Tip : If you love watching chefs at work, move closer to the kitchen and sit at the raised tables for a really ‘up close and personal’ view of the kitchen. I’m fairly sure this will be a popular area for Chef hosted events in the future.
The Food: The menu is ingredient driven and at the heart of the menu, are really great fresh ingredients which deliver great tasting and looking dishes. The menu is not overly large, but there’s more than enough choice and some clever versatility to the dishes. The Tartines, for instance, which are made with house-baked bread, can be served as a plated version and served as a main dish. This is something that we tried on our first visit and worked really well. The plates were served with no reference to the fact that we were eating the filling to a sandwich, albeit a posh sandwich! I recommend the duck for this one, the depth of flavor was really quite special. On our second trip, we tried some of the new dishes that had been added to the menu. We loved the Dukkah Fried Chicken inspired by Al-Said’s home country, Jordan which was cooked Korean style, with the addition of Dukkah, crushed nuts for a crunchy finish (Tip : ask for some extra sauce for dipping if you can). We also had some exceptionally good side dishes, the roasted root vegetables with walnut butter was clever and rich, whilst the charred ricotta and heirloom tomatoes was fresh, sweet and dotted with a vibrant pesto which we loved. Also of note was the new potatoes and rocket with a rich tomato sauce. As a main plate, the Beef Tataki melted in the mouth and the jus was rich and packed full of flavour. With the exception of a little seasoning which needed to be added to one of the salads, I can’t fault the creativeness and flavor in the dishes.
Salmon and Avocado Tartine – served sans bread as a plated main course
The soup that stole my heart! Butternut Squash and Orange soup seasoned with Sumac
Desserts: There are only three desserts on the menu, and since I’m following a sugar free diet at the moment, all were out of scope for me, however the team made me an iced coffee with whipping cream instead which hit the spot perfectly.
Moving onto the dessert menu proper, my date tried the Dark Chocolate Bar, served with peanut ice cream and salted caramel sauce and a Yuzu Pain Perdue both of which he assures me were really good and I have to say looked gorgeous and were seriously tempting! The final dessert on offer is the Arab-inspired Mafroukeh Cheesecake which looked gorgeous but is as yet untasted.
Yuzu and White Chocolate Pain Perdue
Dare I say Snickers Bar …
Drinks: There are some really imaginative drinks on offer. We tried the Pina Smash, Italian Job complete with a passionfruit espuma which is truly Instaworthy, and Golden Temple – all made with homemade syrups. Psst … They serve Single Origin Ethiopian coffee from local roaster, Boon, which is a nice extra touch. Ask for the “Debbie Special” (only joking) – but seriously, the iced coffee with the addition of whipping cream is really good and a perfect dessert substitute for those not having sugar.
Signing off: Slab is an exciting addition to La Mer. We love everything about the concept. The clever pairing and use of good quality ingredients shines through and delivers much more than you can imagine from reading the menu. The butternut soup, for instance, was a clever combination of rich flavors, a myriad of textures and hidden surprises. As a ‘so so’ soup lover, it converted me in a heartbeat to a soup lover, as long as it is the Slab Butternut Squash soup with Orange. Here’s hoping it’s still on the menu for my next visit, or that Chef will share his recipe with me! Psst … they also do breakfast so I feel a return trip calling me.
[The Slab Chef story: Under the creative direction of Fadi Al-Said, the menu was developed by Culinary Consultant Chef Thomas Reger, who you may know from from Intersect by Lexus and who we are big fans on (yes Tom we have a foodie crush on you and your food ever since you catered for a Food Blogger event we attended #backintheday!). Chef Omar Rodriguez, ex Mayta joined recently and has been finely tuning the menu as well as adding some additional dishes. He tells me a new menu will be launched soon, but in the meantime do see the quick interview I did with Chef below.]