Sapore is at the cutting edge of fine modern Italian dining – a vibrant, temperamental cuisine that will keep you on the edge of your chair with eyes shut tight as you deeply enjoy the tastes that play with your senses.
The setting can be relaxing, don’t get me wrong… the restaurant is after all located in the fresh gardens and swimming pool area of Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, and the soft lapping of waves from the Indian Ocean reach your ears if you choose the outdoor seating, but for me, personally, the chef put on such a dazzling display of culinary fireworks that I was transported beyond reach of my other senses, and Taste took over completely – I was temporarily blind, deaf, and immobilized as each mouthful took over.
Perhaps it was my frame of mind on that particular evening, but I can only portray my own experience at Sapore, and so I report how I felt.
It was not a tranquil nibble by the seaside. It was not “oh well, let’s have another hotel dinner” which so often turns into a very neutral, almost bland, international cuisine, aimed to play it safe and please all but electrify no one – Sapore left neutral outside and pulled first gear into the red zone!
And that is how it should be. If you are going to present your guests with a signature restaurant that can stand on its own two legs regardless of the hotel around it, then you have to push hard; you have to ride the razor’s edge, and forge into innovative territory – take no prisoners, and blast your way to stardom.
Sapore did that for me. Fully five stardoms. Take the entire universe, in fact!
I was blown away by the prodigal tastes. Sapore is how you say taste in Italian; and I guess the chef really took on the challenge of making the restaurant’s namesake proud!
And so I asked to meet the Chef himself, to see with my own eyes who the puppet-master was, to meet the maestro… and Chef Abhishek emerged from his kitchen, a humble virtuoso, a soft-spoken genius, with a creativity that wins awards from his peers in the industry and certainly applause from his guests.
Make no mistake: do not let the docile façade fool you! Just a glint of his intensity escapes from his eyes, and I felt the sharp steel edge beneath. This man is a lethal weapon fully focused on a culinary mission – and your taste buds are his fun and games.
Besides the succulent roasted snails above, who else dares to serve a tuna carpaccio?
This is a tricky dish to propose as some people may back away from the raw texture of the fish – and who thought only the Japanese eat super-fresh fish? Italian Carpaccio is traditionally beef tenderloin from the tip end of the roast, also raw, but the sushi-grade tuna served at Sapore is a winning twist to an old favorite!
This lamb shank melts in your mouth, and the intense flavors after the very slow cooking reduced the sauce to a point that it could be served without the lamb and nobody would notice! See how dry the bone is, and the meat just falls off in delicious chunks without resorting to a knife.
Now, please don’t let me scare you. It is true I felt the fireworks and the taste engine firing on all pistons, but Sapore after all is geared to pleasant seaside meals and not just for cutting-edge dishes. It depends very much on what you choose from the menu. Around me were plenty of diners who were enjoying a tasty meal in a lovely setting and good company – they weren’t all intensely sitting on the edge of their chairs like I was, being blown away by the intensity of the flavors (how, I do not know!) – but I selected my dishes provocatively, especially to bring out the tastes.
Sapore is above all a pleasant restaurant where you can enjoy a good meal – a very good meal! – and not even notice the Chef’s machiavellian work behind the scenes. Your dishes will work, your drinks will complement them, you will most certainly feel it is delicious, perhaps not quite knowing why – and that’s fine, too. Indeed, that is also the trademark of a successful gourmet restaurant.
But for those who pay attention, see the eyes in the green mask below, a decoration part of the Sapore ambience? It looks tranquil, but that’s Chef Abhishek behind the scenes, the man behind the mask cooking up a symphony of taste to delight your palate!
Sapore restaurant is located on a 230m stretch of a lovely sandy beach and fronted by the Indian Ocean with stark natural mountains forming the backdrop, Le Meridien Al Aqah beach Resort is far away enough to transport you to another world, but not too far to make the journey taxing – the new highway from Dubai means you can reach the softly-lapping waves of Al Aqah Beach in around 90 minutes.
I would do the drive just to dine at Sapore!
Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort is part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide group, one of the world’s largest hotel companies.
Dibba Road, PO Box 3070, Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
Tel: +971 9 244 9000