October 2010 Tragic Note: Bluefields is now SHUT. *disbelief* *shock* *choke* *breaks out into crazy inconsolable wailing fit*…If you want to know what a gem of a place Dubai has lost, then continue reading my original post:
You know you’ve hit a foodie’s gold mine with a restaurant when ALL of the following hold:
(1) Its founder creates a facebook page for her restaurant AND regularly updates it with daily specials like Ox-tail and Lamb Shanks with Granny’s Rice & Peas and Salad (bring on the meat mon!)
(2) …which then get sold out even before dinner time hits – “LORDIE we’ve sold all the Ox-tail… (wat my gonnah tell da resta people…:-)”
(3) …AND you have a trail of ardent fans uninhibitedly spewing their innermost trivia across the group’s facebook wall for the world to see: “Can you please move the restaurant to Palm Jumeirah?? Am pregnant and having some wicked “Bluefields” cravings right now!”
(Please note – All quotes are real and based on actual people, and can be found on the Bluefields facebook group page)
With so many rave reviews, and the uncontrollable drooling action that threatened to drown my keyboard as I fervorously scrolled through each person’s comments, I just had to get there and try it for myself ASAP. Would all the facebook glam and glitter really turn out to be gold?
I got there with my three friends around 2pm-ish the next day, to find a hole-in-the-wall joint that was totally empty. Perfect. Exactly what we needed if we were going to go in there true Spartan style and ravish that menu like the brave warriors that each of us are. Zero distractions, rapier-edged focus on the noble act of putting the most prized and sacred Jamaican treasures on that menu in their rightful place – the Tum of Yours Truly.
Fine, maybe that’s a stretch. In fact, far from the bleak battlefields of 300, the place pulsed with every color that any child would be mortified to not find in the crayon box that his mom just bought him for school. I mean literally, the walls and the massive photo collage screamed the bright essence of the Jamaican flag in the face of entering diners, lest someone walked in and suffered temporary amnesia about the kind of food they’d come here to eat. And my friends – while worthy companions in all things food – were not as gung-ho about going all out and ordering ‘one of everything for kicks.’ Dang. So much for that.
Despite the defeat of my Spartan-like approach, I still managed to convince the group to order a decent amount of food. Fried shrimp with mango and sour cream for starters, and then a hearty feast of Jamaican jerk chicken (not ordering that in a Jamaican joint would have amounted to treachery), crispy adobo deep-fried red snapper (the WHOLE fish. Hell yeah.), and both specials of the day: curry goat and oxtail. Just hearing our server repeat those dishes made me want to get up and start jammin’ to the Bob Marley beats in the background.
It was like sitting in your grandma’s kitchen, with the cook (Sri Lankan, not Jamaican. But that said, Jamaican food has been influenced by so many different ethnic groups that traded through the islands that there’s a little Jamaican cook in everyone) weaving himself in and out of the kitchen, explaining the dishes to us, and exuding a warmth and easiness that happily blended in with the tropical flair of this crayon box restaurant.
Back to the culinary battlefield, our starter marched in triumphantly with six tiny Jamaican jerk-spiced shrimp (Dhs. 26), floating like innocent inflatable rings in a pool of mango-sour cream sauce – but releasing a naughty heated singe the second our teeth sank into its plump, spice-speckled flesh. Also bobbing around in the mango-colored pool were little crunchy green-orange-red capsicum bits and freshly snipped parsley leaves, completing the same kindergarten color wheel within the dish that we could see splashed across every other aspect of this restaurant.
Each of the entrees we ordered – save the curry goat which may have overdosed on turmeric and faltered off the battlegrounds – proved to be tough opponents against each other. Of the three remaining dishes, I’ve definitely tasted Jamaican jerk chicken a few times before, but nowhere as yummy as the chicken I had here. The tender breast meat (Dhs 33 for ¼ portion) had sopped up the jerk spice all the way to the bone, and paired wonderfully with the coriander and lentil-flavored mouthfuls of pliable Jamaican roti that we’d asked them to sub in for rice. Though even the rice, with soft black beans studded between its coconut-flavored grains, was absolutely delicious.
Next was the red snapper (Dhs. 45), which didn’t look particularly delectable under the haphazardly strewn mound of white Spanish onions, but was delicious enough to make a fan out of my not-so-psyched-about-fishies friend. Deep under its crunchy spice-rubbed skin, the red snapper had trapped in the taste of salty ocean breeze in a way that transported me back to spring break in Cancun, when my college friends and I devoured (sober I might add, and at the peak of our sophomore culinary senses) freshly caught, grilled fish on an island nearby. It was like the chef at Bluefields had blown up a tiny vinegar-filled grenade in the kitchen, drenching the onions and the soft white shreds of snapper flesh in a tangy, lemony, lip-smacking flavor.
My taste buds had already been martyred and gone to gastro-heaven by this point, only to do it all over again when they dove into the ox-tail curry (Dhs. 50). The ox-tails had been pressure-cooked for an entire hour, simply in onions and their own juices (and maybe a few secret ingredient s – crack may well be one of them – that the chef may have kept from us when explaining how he’d created this eighth wonder). The result: chocolate brown medallions, with tender, gravy-dripping strands of luscious dark meat, meshed in places with gooey bits of melted cartilage. Insaaaanely good.
Super important note: The oxtail curry and curry goat are both specials, and only made on certain days. I was super lucky to taste both when I got there, but I could have also been that person sticking a fork in her head out of frustration if oxtails were not on the menu that day – or worse, if they’d run out. Don’t be that person with bloody fork scars, CALL before you go.
Food coma was just minutes away by this point. Enough time to squeeze in a quick round of the only dessert available at the time, apple tart (Dhs. 18) with vanilla ice cream. I hadn’t heard much about Jamaican desserts, so I wasn’t prepared to be blown out of my mind. But exceeding my expectations, this apple tart –more like a gigantic slice of pie crust slathered with caramelized, not-too-sweet, granny smith apples – was a simple and fitting end to the afternoon’s gluttony.
Bluefields, the victory is yours, and defeat has never tasted better. I adore you. I crave you. I drool over you. Yep, you’ve just won another ox-tail raving customer and fanatical facebook fan.
Phone: (04) 335-7377
Oud Metha, opposite Enoc building near Lamcy Plaza
Bluefields Facebook Page