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25 February 2024

Come as you are for this unique dining concept

The restaurant traces the origins of its produce for diners. (SUPPLIED)

By Rachel McArthur

As the saying goes, you are what you eat, but when dining out, chances are you don't know where most of your food is coming from.

With a country as diverse as the UAE, it's not uncommon for restaurants to supply produce from different regions. But let's face it, when it comes to tracing its sources, most places aren't exactly keen to share secrets.

This is where Azur comes in. Knowing exactly where the food came from before it reaches your plate is this Dubai Marina restaurant's selling point.

Azur (pronounced 'As-You-Are') lives up to its name by being the emirate's first "farm-to-fork" dining experience – meaning all the produce can be traced back to its origin, of which at least 70 per cent is organic.

Located at The Harbour Hotel, Azur offers authentic no-nonsense Mediterranean cuisine, which is tasty, generous in portion size, and most importantly, not too harsh on the wallet.

The restaurant's intimate surroundings make it ideal for couples or hosting business dinners. But judging by the menu choices, little would appeal to children. Luckily, we didn't have that problem.

Spoilt for choice with the starters alone, all the favourites, including grilled halloumi cheese and poached lobster salad, were on the menu. After much pondering, we opted for the fried squid set on a base of yellow split-pea puree.

It was obvious from the first bite the squid – straight from Oman – was fresh and cooked to perfection; not too brown and not too chewy either. However, the bizarre-tasting pea puree did nothing for the dish. Given a choice, I would love to order it again, minus the fancy dressing.

The mains offered a seemingly delicious selection of grilled specials to choose from; and while my dining partner was the winner with his fillet steak (which our sources told us was from South Africa), I made a weak choice with the chicken brochettes with toomi. Lacking the right seasoning, the chicken was slightly too moist for my liking, which may have been rescued had it been allowed to cook on the grill a little longer. But considering it is 100 per cent organic (from Austria by the way), I am told it is non-organic chickens that tend to taste more on the dry side.

But the mediocre main had a silver lining – leaving more room for dessert. It was suggested I try the caramelised banana flambe, prepared at my table, and who was I to object? A well-made choice indeed; deliciously sweet and buttery, the banana (100 per cent organic from the Philippines) was simply perfect. No losing there.