Omnia | October 15.2014

By Aysha Majid

Not known for a thriving health food scene, Dubai is slowly but surely finding its feet when it comes to sustenance that is kind on your arteries and sympathetic to your waist line.

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Nestled in a quaint café in Al Souq, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Omnia, Arabic for wish (aptly named given the whimsical foliage hanging from the ceiling and Ottoman style ‘wishing well’) serves modern Middle Eastern food and ticks a myriad of health buzzwords (think raw, vegan, paleo). Unsure whether or not this café, frequented by a mix of Expats and Locals, may fall short due to the prerequisite hype that often surrounds nonconformist concepts in the city, I decided to check it out.

Fresh 'meat' (or not as the case may be) to the food scene in Dubai, can often be analogically described as a swarm of bees on honey and when the bees move on, you're sometimes left with a wilted flower that once was… Luckily, it doesn't seem Omnia's charm will fall privy to this and with Turkish/Bulgarian owner, Silvena Rowe fighting its corner who would dare argue. Having developed a growing media presence, Chef Rowe's larger-than-life style emanates throughout the restaurant's four walls. Standing out from the crowd, this casual addition brings an interesting twist to the Middle Eastern food scene.

The waiter energetically takes our order with good knowledge of the menu. Dishes arrive promptly; of black truffle labneh with roasted sweet potatoes, crispy maple glazed veal bacon and zucchini 'linguine', avocado pesto and cashew nut ricotta with walnut crumble. The flavours are harmoniously put together and the locally produced ricotta sits on the plate like a star pupil. The daily catch fishcakes (which happen to be sea bream and cream dory) and harissa quinoa with chai seed sweet potato cakes and feta cheese (these just might be our favourite), are lightly crisped with the subtle piquancy of feta and work nicely together, satisfying our savoury craving. The chocolate and coconut budino tastes a little synthetic, but the cashew 'cheese' cake mango and passion fruit makes up for this entirely…

If Omnia manages to maintain the fresh and dedicated approach it currently cultivates it will stand the test of time and traditionalist food lovers should not fear – you won't be disappointed here. Enjoy gluten and dairy free, raw and vegan dishes and leave not only satisfied, but with a smile on your face.

We look forward to seeing what Rowe has next up her sleeve. A 'little birdie' tells us there are plans to launch a more formal restaurant in Downtown. Watch this space…