A culinary revolution is taking root in the heart of the Arabian Desert. The United Arab Emirates, renowned for its opulent hotels and extravagant dining, is embracing a new, more sustainable approach to food. The farm-to-table movement, a concept that prioritizes locally sourced, fresh ingredients, is gaining momentum in the UAE, transforming the country’s dining scene. This article takes you through the UAE’s most innovative farm-to-table dining experiences, showcasing the restaurants and farms leading the way in sustainable gastronomy.

 

BOCA, Dubai

Nestled in the heart of Dubai’s financial center, BOCA is a vibrant restaurant making waves in the culinary world committed to sustainability. The restaurant’s team is discussing sustainability and actively implementing it in their operations. This is reflected in their locally sourced menu, a unique feature in a desert nation where many restaurants rely on imported ingredients.

BOCA’s dishes, while inspired by the coastal regions of Spain, Italy, and France, are a testament to the local environment. The menu features beetroot risotto and grilled calamari, but the real stars are the locally sourced ingredients. Desert plants take center stage with pickled khansour blooms, pureed homaid leaves, and salty seedaf vinaigrette served with Dibba Bay oysters. The menu also includes kingfish from the Arabian Gulf and vegetables grown locally using hydroponic methods.

BOCA’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond its food offerings. The restaurant’s Spanish wine list highlights smaller, lesser-known regions like Castilla and Somontano, and their cocktails are made with ingredients from the kitchen that would otherwise go to waste, such as a mixer made from pineapple skins.

In April 2023, BOCA’s dedication to green practices earned it the Sustainable Kitchen of the Year award from the renowned French restaurant guide, Gault&Millau. The restaurant also offers a well-thought-out vegan menu and a list of organic wines, making it a well-rounded dining spot.

BOCA is not just about sustainability but also about taste. The menu is full of Spanish flair, with dishes like deconstructed patatas bravas-style BOCA potato chips, vegan crispy quinoa, snap pea salad, and the signature Garden in the Desert made with native UAE desert plants. Seafood lovers can enjoy oysters from Dibba Bay, Sultan Ibrahim fish, Gulf calamari, and Gulf of Oman halibut.

The restaurant’s service is spot-on, and the atmosphere is buzzing, especially on the pretty terrace surrounded by twinkling fairy lights and towering office blocks. With its cool, urban, and laid-back vibe, BOCA is a must-visit for those seeking a dining experience with a story to tell.

BOCA Gate Village 6, DIFC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Phone: +971 4 323 1833 

Website: http://boca.ae/ 

 

Cassette, Al Quoz

 Located in the artistic epicenter of Dubai, The Courtyard at Al Quoz, Cassette is a Parisian-style restaurant that is not only known for its delicious and photogenic meals but also for its commitment to sustainability. The founder, Haider Madani, has gone beyond just serving food, creating a business with sustainability and environmental awareness at its core. Cassette’s approach to dining is unique, with every aspect of the restaurant planned to positively impact the planet. This includes efforts to save energy, reduce waste, and reuse materials.

The restaurant’s design reflects its values, with reclaimed materials used for flooring, fixtures, and fittings. The straws are plastic-free, and the disposable cups and takeaway boxes are plant-based. The menu at Cassette is a testament to its commitment to sustainability. The restaurant strives to use organic ingredients sourced from local suppliers, reducing transportation pollutants and supporting local farmers. This approach also allows for an adaptable and fresh seasonal menu that changes weekly, dictated by nature and creativity.

The Cassette is also dedicated to reducing food wastage. They are conscious of portion sizes and strive to achieve a balance that leaves customers satisfied without being wasteful. They also make every meal from scratch, including their bread rolls, pickles, dressings, and stock, which allows them to use every part of the food they purchase and minimize waste.

Cassette is more than just a restaurant; it’s a model for sustainable and eco-friendly dining in the UAE. With its sustainable practices, delicious food, and commitment to making better choices for the planet, Cassette is leading the way in the future of the restaurant industry.

The Courtyard, Al Quoz, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Website: https://cassette.ae/ 

Telephone: +971 4 349 1966

 

Dibba Bay Oysters

By the tranquil shores of the Indian Ocean, with a view of the Hajar Mountains, Dibba Bay Oysters is quietly disrupting the UAE’s seafood industry. As the first farm to grow oysters in the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf, Dibba Bay is a testament to the innovative spirit of the UAE’s farm-to-table movement. The farm supplies fresh oysters directly to local markets and restaurants, contributing to the growing demand for locally sourced seafood in the UAE. 

Address: Fishing Harbour 2 – Umm Suqeim 1 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates

Website: https://www.dibbabay.com/ 

Telephone: +971 54 438 8537 

 

Mary Anne’s Fresh Produce and Emirates Bio Farm

In the desert outskirts of Dubai, Mary Anne’s Fresh Produce and Emirates Bio Farm are pioneering sustainable farming practices in the UAE. Mary Anne’s Fresh Produce grows edible flowers, microgreens, and herbs using aquaponics, a farming system that drastically reduces water usage and eliminates the need for pesticides. Emirates Bio Farm, the largest organic farm in the UAE, grows crops directly in pure desert sand, demonstrating the potential for sustainable agriculture in the region’s arid landscapes. http://www.maryannesfreshproduce.com/education.html 

 

Farmhouse, Ras Al Khaimah

Farmhouse, located at the Ritz Carlton in Ras Al Khaimah, offers an authentic, truly unique farm-to-table dining experience. The restaurant is known for its selection of meats, aged to perfection and sourced from the finest providers, as well as homegrown vegetables harvested straight from the Ritz Carlton’s farm gardens. The menu features a variety of dishes from the Farmhouse smokery, including the 12-hour oakwood smoked black Angus short ribs served with garlic mash and charred chili. Salads are also a highlight, with options like wood-roasted heirloom beetroot, marinated goat cheese, beet labneh, and pomegranate.

The restaurant’s setting is as impressive as its menu. Nestled amidst the tranquility of the Desert, Farmhouse offers stunning views of the surrounding ghaf trees and local wildlife, which guests can enjoy through the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows. The interior design complements the natural surroundings with warm earthy tones, dark wood, black metal, and textured red brick walls creating a biophilic and slightly farmhouse-rustic appeal.

The menu at Farmhouse is well-considered and diverse, featuring wild meats, seafood, and intriguing farm-inspired ingredients. The House Oakwood smoked meat-tasting platter is popular, offering melt-in-the-mouth short ribs, brisket, and chorizo served with grilled corn, red cabbage slaw, and ripe blue cheese. Other meat options include the Greater Omaha tenderloin, Australian black grain-fed onyx, and the New York striploin, all cooked to your preferred temperature on the Mibrasa Grill. Side dishes are equally enticing, with super-cheesy truffle macaroni, garlic broccoli with smoked butter, ember creamed corn, and garlic-scented farm mushrooms.

Farmhouse is not just a restaurant but a destination. It offers a unique dining experience that combines exceptional food with stunning views and a tranquil atmosphere, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique dining experience in the UAE.

Farmhouse The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, 

Al Wadi Desert Al Mazraa, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates 

Phone: +971 7206 7777 

Website: Farmhouse

 

Conclusion

The farm-to-table movement in the UAE is more than just a culinary trend; it’s a testament to the country’s commitment to sustainability and innovation. From the bustling cityscape of Dubai to the tranquil deserts of Ras Al Khaimah, restaurants and farms across the UAE are embracing locally sourced, fresh ingredients, transforming the country’s dining scene. As the farm-to-table movement continues to grow, diners in the UAE can look forward to more delicious, sustainable, and locally sourced meals in the future.

 

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