Well, I must confess, I have surprised myself. I didn’t expect this to happen. I really didn’t. I miss the one and only truly beautiful organic café in Dubai. Believe it or not! Surrounded by hundreds of options here in Vancouver and I find myself desiring to pop into my regular spot for one of their scrumptious daily creations. I can’t help but wish that I could show all of my Canadian friends this place, introduce them to a place that I consider my saving grace in the Middle East.
For those of you that are either Dubai locals or were lucky enough to be dragged there by myself- you may already know where I’m talking about. For all you Dubai foreigners, I am speaking to a charming café and ‘concept store’ in Dubai called Comptoir 102.
This delightful gem is found in Dubai’s’ notorious neighbourhood of Jumeirah on Beach Road, just a few blocks past the Jumeirah Beach Mall. Referred to as a ‘concept store’- you really get the gift of “two-in-one” at Comptoir 102. Not only is it the home of a beautiful organic café whose menu changes daily based on what is locally available and the chef’s inspiration; the café has several rooms, decorated differently, in addition to a store featuring stunning, cutting-edge fashion and accessories. The brains and creative-source behind my favourite spot in Dubai are two fabulous women, Alex & Emma, business partners that are both France natives. I can quite confidently say that they were present every time I visited- so, needless to say- they play highly active, foundational roles in their business. This point is emphasized by their admirable style- both always dressed in a way that commonly left me envious; European chicque with an edge of nonchalant, laid back, at-ease sophistication.
Clothes & accessories aside, where do I start? Oh right, the food (of course). I was first brought to this fantastic place (I refer to it as my very own Middle East Mecca) by one of my father’s colleagues, a fellow Canadian native. Upon meeting at a business dinner, we quickly bonded over a shared love for green smoothies, fitness and nutrition. I knew I could trust her in choosing the location for our lunch meeting. Little did I know she was going to blow me out of the water.
As I previously mentioned, the café has a menu that is transformed each day. In addition, the menu features around 6-8 items that are always available; their staples. These items include fantastic salads, sandwiches and one of my favourites, the avocado crostini. Now, in this day and age, an organic café would not be complete without a delicious array of fresh juices and smoothies as well as organic teas and coffees. Comptoir 102 is no different featuring a list of organic fruit and vegetable juices such as the ‘Skinny Boost’ that includes pineapple and a variety of greens like cucumber and the ‘Energy Kick’ made from carrot, fennel and ginger. The menu itself has many layers of holistic nutrition- which is such a great thing to see in Dubai. The daily features include elements of Ayurveda & herbal medicine, such as an Ayurvedic balancing soup that stole my father’s heart!
The mastermind behind the menu is chef Chris Clarke who is described as a dietary nutrition expert, something clearly demonstrated during the café experience. One thing that I thoroughly enjoy about this café is its versatility. It has been designed in a way to welcome any guest, regardless of their background, orientation or taste. Upon entering the café, you are greeted by a group of warm and friendly staff (who are always there, I might add) who are passionate about the food (especially the desserts). For me, I have a hard time leaving the café. It truly does feel like I am in my own home that has been embellished with a fantastic wardrobe and beautiful furniture. It’s the kind of place where you really feel a cohesion on the concept, from start to finish. The rooms are so beautiful designed, all of the items for sale are of a particular style and genre of fashion- and the food is all so delicately created and executed. The beauty is truly is in the details at Comptoir 102.
When it comes to Dubai’s ‘holistic industry’, it is arguably developing. As with most things in Dubai, once the ball gets rolling- it increases in it’s velocity exponentially. The last time I was in Dubai (almost 4 years ago), there really was no choice when it came to availability of organic, vegan and sustainable foods. Fast forward to now- there are Organic food stores (Organic Foods & Cafe), Farmers Markets on the weekend as well as reputable organic food farm suppliers for restaurants and the larger food businesses (Greenheart Organics). Thus, although there is a long way to go- change is taking place and there is an observable movement taking place. Of course, when it comes to organics & food (and change in general)- there is always going to be resistance. Dubai isn’t exactly the most desirable place in the world to grow food sustainably (think a desert + soil quality). That being said, where demand is created (and grows), supply must increase. From my limited time in Dubai, I can say with certainty that the awareness is growing and the demand is there. All you have to do is take a trip to Comptoir 102 and observe the bustling energy of it’s happy patrons at any time of the day (that is, during the working hours of the concept store- aka, don’t go at midnight).
All in all, no matter who you are and where you are on your health journey (or lack thereof)- Comptoir 102 has a little bit of something for every taste. From the hearty, fresh sandwiches & smoothies to the nutritionally inclined dishes (such as the seaweed pate)- I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. For me, when it comes to eating out- it’s about the entire mind, body experience. Not only am I satisfied with the taste of the food at the end of a meal, I know that I have treated my body with love- and my spirit is enlightened with the whole experience. I have never left that cafe feeling less than fantastic. If you are looking for somewhere new and fresh in Dubai, somewhere healthy and fun, or a new spot to meet a friend for tea- Comptoir 102 is the place; this I can guarantee.