Embarking on a gastronomic journey is always very exciting. Fernanda Langhammer experienced an exceptionally flavourful trip at My Cafe.
Many restaurants claim to be inspired by different cuisines, however, finding a place that mixes them with mastery is a rare gem, and My Cafe is undoubtedly one of them. We visited the Riffa branch (with a slightly different menu from the Adliya location), which opened about eight months ago, to explore the extensive menu orchestrated by Chef Konstantinos Bouklis.
Everything about this eatery exudes beauty and funkiness, from the carefully arranged outdoor seating area to the modern and tastefully decorated indoor dining space. As soon as you enter, a massive white giraffe greets you with a delicate crystal chandelier in its mouth – an artful piece that will put a smile on your face. We then took the elevator and went to the upstairs area. Right in front of us, a massive tree emerged and, on the left side, there was a semi-private area with a large table that looked like someone’s dining room. The wall had shelves with eye-catching art pieces and low chandeliers made with natural materials giving the ambience an intimate vibe.
After exploring the space and soaking in its beautiful details, it was time to please our palates. The first item we tried was the Pizza al Tegamino, made with tomato sauce, cherry tomato confit, parmesan, basil, fried egg and beef bacon. In my opinion, pizza dough needs to have a crunch to it and hold the toppings well; this one didn’t disappoint – it was just perfect! You might find it uncommon to have a fried egg and beef bacon on top of a pizza, but this is where My Cafe stands out; everything is done to taste its best, and the recipes have an out-of-the-box approach. If you are looking for dishes that will challenge your senses and play with your taste buds, visiting My Cafe will take you there.
The menu is broad, and there is something to please literally everyone. But even simple dishes come with an out-of-the-ordinary element. The Crunchy Chicken Waffle, a staple breakfast in the United States, was a combination of pan-fried buttermilk chicken with maple butter and coriander sitting in one of the best waffles I have ever had in my life. The waffle was crispy on the outside and soft inside, with the right touch of sweetness. The Spinach Feteer had a light and flaky dough with the right ratio of spinach, cheese and olives. The Chicken Tikka Ravioli was probably the best example of fusion done right. The small pockets of fried ravioli dough were filled with well-seasoned chicken and curry sauce accompanied by mint yoghurt. The crunchy dumpling was an explosion of taste in our mouths and a gift to our taste buds.
Chef Konstantinos told us that they constantly add to and change the menu, but some dishes are untouchable, and the reason is not to upset regular customers – I love that! One of these dishes is the Date Salad made with rocket leaves, feta cheese, blanched almonds, caramelised dates and orange blossom vinaigrette. I believe it thrives for its beautiful balance of ingredients.
It’s important to highlight that everything cooked in the My Cafe kitchen is homemade, from the pasta dough to the pastrami, using the freshest ingredients in the market. Chef Konstantinos is also very proud of what his culinary team can accomplish by upholding high standards and quality while offering such a varied menu.
The Saffron Arancini is an encounter between East and West. The rare Eastern spice gives another dimension to this simple dish, adding a subtle earthy-sweet profile with a tinge of bitterness on the tongue to the famous Italian fried delicacy made with creamy rice. The fried disk is placed on a bed of chicken carbonara sauce made with porcini mushroom, parmesan, gruyere and hazelnut balsamic dressing, decorated with petals of confit tomato. One bite is enough to linger on your palate for a while – a dish now engraved in my food memory.
I love pasta, and the Truffle Pappardelle was scrumptious. One of the secrets of this dish is that cheese and truffle extract are added to the dough, expanding its flavours when bathed in a sauce of mushroom ragout, truffle cream and pecorino and parmesan cheese. A synchronised dance happened in my mouth, and I felt that this comforting dish had just hugged me.
If you like seafood, you must try one of Chef Konstantinos’ signature dishes: Grilled Calamari. As you probably noticed, nothing at My Cafe is as simple as it sounds. All creations come with a certain level of complexity, whether in their execution or expertise in knowing which ingredients work well together. The calamari is sun-dried and then quickly grilled, then the mountain of thin rings sits on top of a pool of miso butter sauce, raisins, pickled fennel and crispy and pureed parsley. The combination of different textures and levels of sweetness and savoury elements gives the dish its brilliance.
For meat lovers, the Short Rib Orzo was cooked to perfection – falling from the bone and melting in the mouth, accompanied by tasty orzo, a short-cut pasta shaped like a large grain of rice. The meat is braised for eight hours and seasoned with thyme, chives and beef jus, reaffirming the commitment and excellence offered. The other meat dish we tried and were very impressed by was the Afghani Lamb (a family recipe full of childhood memories), a beautiful piece of meat on a large bed of rice pilaf with roasted nuts, crispy onion and caramelised carrots.
After a splendid spread of savoury morsels, we had to try some of the restaurant’s most loved desserts. The Russian Honey Cake had the perfect ratio of sponge and filling with a very light aftertaste. The San Sebastian Cheesecake was creamy and crustless, with a beautifully caramelised top; the rustic flavour and texture were spot on! But my favourite sweet was the ‘My’ Sticky Toffee Pudding, maybe because I have a thing for pudding, but this one was just incredible. The gooey cake was topped with frosted pecan, caramelised pistachios and vanilla ice cream for the perfect mouthful to end this marvellous culinary experience.
After this dining journey, I felt that there was a skilful team behind every single dish and that they deeply respected the ingredients they worked with – big applause to the whole team.
No matter if you are looking for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner, My Cafe has it all – and more, as it will expand your food knowledge and give you an unparalleled taste adventure.