One of the best things about the UAE is the number of cuisines available, and Indian cuisine is almost everyone’s favorite. That is why I have been anticipating this review ever since I received the lunch invite!
They have several branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Eastern Mangrove one, with a gorgeous view!
Peppermill has a large indoor dining area and even outdoor seating for when the weather is just right with an exceptional view of the marina.
For this review, I was seated indoors (as the weather wasn’t pleasant) and was welcomed by the restaurant manager. Can’t guarantee that my experience at the Eastern Mangrove would be the same in other branches but the manager was exceptionally knowledgeable about the food, their origins and how some dishes evolved into modern Indian menus. It was an absolute pleasure getting to discuss his favored dishes and hearing all about them. If you ever plan on visiting Peppermill at the Eastern mangrove, I recommend a quick chat with the manager!
All tables are served with the starters above, to get your palettes tickled with exceptional flavors of sweet, mint and spice.
For my starter, I began with the Mulligatawny Soup, which is a unique Lentil Soup with a hint of basmati rice and chicken. The soup, surprisingly, resembled the light Arabic version of Lentil soup found in Levant cuisine. It was really flavorful, light, fresh and just the right start to a meal. The manager kindly walked me through the origins of lentil soup, and how the “poor man’s dish” became one of the most popular soups in indian cuisine. Definitely a great starter.
This was an all-new for me, Karare Palak Chaat which is basically batter-fried spinach topped with mint, tamarind chutney and yoghurt sprinkled with spices and coriander. This is the first time I tasted spinach in this form, and I got to admit it was delicious. The starter did lose its form as it got soggy after some time, but while still crispy, it was delicious and popping with flavor.
While waiting for the main dishes to be prepared, and boy were there many dishes waiting for me, I was presented with their Strawberry Colada, a refreshing drink if you’re into strawberries.
I often would want to try something new, but I was badly wanting to try the Butter Chicken!
Unfortunately for me, I was expecting wonders as I was impressed by Peppermill and the dish did not live up to the hyped expectations. Do not get me wrong, the Butter Chicken was very creamy, rich and nice, but it did not blow me away in terms of flavor. There was plenty in a serving for two people, and the chicken was tender, juicy and the cubes were just the right size. I liked it a lot, but was begging for a little more flavor. Maybe I am asking too much!
The manager recommended two types of bread, the Garlic Cheese Naan and the Pudina Paratha. To be honest, they were delicious but admittedly, the Garlic Cheese Naan might not have been the best flavor to go with the Butter Chicken. The bread alone though, was amazing. The Pudina Paratha is essentially a whole wheat flat bread flavored with mint and this was just right, not too minty, and worked really well with the curry. The menu is huge and has over 10 types of bread!
It wouldn’t be complete without a unique specialty dish by the chef, and I was lucky enough to get one! The dish is traditionally called the Kadai Paneer, which is Diced Indian Cottage Cheese cooked with onions and pepper, topped with fresh coriander seeds and red chilies, and the specialty dish was called Kadai Prawns, which was Black tiger prawns in a onion tomato mix & kadai spices. This was definitely the dish of the visit. The prawns were quite large, tasted extremely fresh, cooked to perfection and the spices just made it perfect! I loved every bit of it. As you can tell by now, I was served a lot of food and this was the only dish I actually finished.
If that wasn’t enough, they brought me a platter of Peppermill’s popular grills to try!
This platter was the only dish that wasn’t served in full size.. well.. there was no way I could eat all this food! Here are the three grills:
Seekh Kebab – Minced lamb with spices, hand rolled over in iron skewers, slow cooked in a clay oven. I really liked this and found it quite spicy. Certainly enough flavors to last you a while!
Tandoori Chicken – Chicken delicately spiced in rare spices and yoghurt baked in tandoor for enhanced flavors. This was also a very nice grill, I would have opted for more spice but certainly delicious.
Tandoori Malai Prawn – One of the nicest grilled prawns I had tasted in a while, very nice flavors, and lightly spiced.
It does seem like they are very good with prawns at Peppermill as both prawn dishes were exceptional.
And just as I was about to explode, I was introduced to their Chicken Biryani
Lovely display and serving but the flavors lacked for me. The rice was cooked well, and the chicken was very tender but there was a lack in flavor. I had a quick chat with the manager as everything had a lot of flavor but the biryani didnt. He explained that there are various levels of spice that can be ordered and every level is one round of chili water applied to the biryani. I tried to have it spiced a bit and although it became a bit more flavorful, it wasn’t where I needed it to be.
I loved the rice, chicken and presentation for sure, but the overall biryani wasn’t up to expectation.
I was about to leave but then…
The manager brought on the Shahi Tukda – Toasted brioche caramelized and served with pistachio ice cream drizzled with saffron sauce and topped with a pistachio biscotti (all made in house!). I cannot begin to express how incredible this dessert was. The little sponge-cake-like brioche in the bottom was super soft, the ice cream was to-die-for and together was just heavenly. I could not breathe but it would have been an absolute waste to not finish this, and so I did! Incredible dessert and not too sweet either with a lovely amount of pistachio to go around. Absolutely loved it.
Overall, this was an exceptional experience of Indian cuisine. Peppermill would be considered a high end Indian restaurant but it actually is quite decent. It was a great lunch with delicious, unique and fresh food, cooked by people who definitely knew what they were doing and served by people who knew the food just as much as the people who made it. The menu is huge, and has about a hundred or more dishes to choose from.
The Service: It was very good! I was there just when the lunch peak had begun and the amount of staff going around indoors and outdoors serving people was sufficient. Response times were decent and the staff were always incredibly happy to serve. I may keep repeating this, but the manager was truly the highlight of the staff at Peppermill. He had incredible knowledge of the dishes, their origins and ingredients.
The Value: A digital copy of the menu can be found here: http://www.peppermill.me/pdf/pappermill-menu-online.pdf and it is priced quite well for high end Indian cuisine.
The Place: 7 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food: 8 / 10
Overall: 7.7 / 10
If you are hungry for Indian Cuisine, Peppermill is a definitely recommendation. Great place, fresh ingredients, friendly staff and a must-have experience.