Caya is a pretty little Mediterranean inspired restaurant and café in Town Square Park towards the end of Al Qudra Road. At the time of writing, there was an unasphalted plot opposite the newly opened Carrefour Market which is used as a free parking lot. Irrespective of whether or not you’ve just had your car washed, park there as there’s nowhere else to park for the time being.
Designers have used whites and greys offset by Scandinavian wood to create an aesthetically and clinically clean interior. The fact that one whole side of the restaurant is made of ceiling-to-floor glass walls, tinted of course, means the interior is flush with light. Standouts for me were the cracked mosaic flooring and the giant potted olive tree in the middle of the restaurant. There’s a bakery bar on one end and a children’s play pen on the other. Ladies, you will LOVE this place.
The marketing blurb says Mediterranean but the Caya menu reaches further out, including breakfast items such as shakshuka from this region and karak and paratha from the subcontinent. In fact, breakfast is a significant part of Caya’s culinary ethos. I can’t wait to try it out. There’s a distinct bias towards the health conscious incorporated into the menu too with a full section dedicated to salads and power bowls – all the stuff I’d write off before but will now need to start taking seriously with my new low everything diet. But they also have PIZZA! and a dedicated page with proper food for kids.
With that in mind, I started with a salad called Greek by Caya – no guessing where that was from. Together with my host, Nicky, we ordered the Chicken Brochette and Crispy Calamari. He also ordered the Classic Bruschetta to test me on my first day of dieting – damn you, Nicky. I asked our patient waiter to have the kitchen chop up some green chillies to add to my salad – wow! I’m not a big salad person but I loved this salad – the dressing was perfectly balanced (not too sour) and that chilli added just enough of a kick to satisfy my inner devil. The chicken brochette was another hit, it had a beautiful smoky after-taste and was perfectly cooked.
We ordered the ribeye and the pan seared seabass to share between us. I’m sorry but an 89 Dirham steak has no business tasting this good – wow! And not just taste, they got the medium rare doneness down to perfection. The fish was equally good. Neither needed the sauces they came with and I would order both again. I can think of no higher compliment. I’d also like to try the fish and chips but that’ll have to wait for a cheat day.
The restaurant is new, and the big boss was on site – service was bound to be attentive. What I didn’t expect was for the staff to work as such a cohesive, well-coordinated team. Our waiter, a friendly young man named Rachad, was near brilliant, anticipating what we wanted. Nicky, himself a famous restaurateur, pointed out that the best way to determine how good the service at a restaurant is, is to monitor your glass of water. If it’s always full, your waiter has his eye on the table and doing a good job. Rachad had our glasses full throughout our meal – well done.
Caya is a welcome addition to the Dubailand culinary scene and well worth a detour.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on email@example.com.