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FACT Review: Chef Izu brings his Midas touch to Maison de la Plage

What happens when one of the region’s most lauded chefs opens a beautiful beach club?

Chef Izu Ani requires little to no introduction. The accomplished chef and restaurateur responsible for the hospitality hits Alaya, Carine, Gaia, and Kai Enzo has built an impressive restaurant empire on the notion of fine food. Maison de la Plage is his love letter to the French Riviera. A beautiful beachfront concept boasting a restaurant, swimming pool and swathe of golden sand packed with pretty parasols on the shoreline at Palm West Beach.

The Vibe

Chef Izu has staked his reputation on simple French-Mediterranean cuisine. Derived from the French phrase that translates to ‘beach house’, Maison de la Plage’s design is sophisticated and quietly understated. Inspired by the daily market rituals of French culture, the stunning spot recreates the market where Chef Izu met his wife, Carine. Decked out in awnings that drape seductively over rattan furniture topped with plump cushioning, it’s a chic space.

Crafted by the London-based design studio First Within, the market feel of the restaurant brings the outside in, with latticed archways and flourishing fountains. There’s even a turquoise swimming pool traversed by a glass-sided bridge leading down to the beachfront, where a beach bar, cabanas and day beds kiss the shoreline.

Effortlessly melding the charm of the Cote d’Azur, guests can select langoustines, lobsters and the catch of the day at the seafood market, fresh vegetables from punnets, or premium cuts from the dry-ager and meat fridge. Once gratified by the gourmet offerings, sink into a seat for a true toes-in-the-sand dining experience.

The Food

Known for his straightforward, ingredient-led approach to cooking, Chef Izu’s sharing-style menu offers a taste of the Mediterranean. The à la carte offering boasts all of the chef’s signature dishes, including Grilled Harissa Prawns (AED 95), Lentil Salad with pickled vegetables (AED 65), Onion Tart (AED 90), Snails with Butter and Anchovies (AED 105) and the ever-popular Izu Burger (AED 135).

Conveniently split into salads, hot and cold entrées, pizzas, sandwiches, main courses and sharing dishes, we begin with the signature Lobster Salad with Pomelo Dressing (AED 225). Presented in a deep bowl, the verdant mix of asparagus, avocado, lettuce, and lumps of luscious lobster is designed for sharing. Keeping things light, we indulge in a small vegetable basket (AED 125) procured from the onsite Marché. The produce is top-notch, showcasing asparagus from Mexico, cherry tomatoes from Uzbekistan and an array of parsnips, carrots and cucumbers served as crudités with Houmous, Tapenade d’olives and Tzatziki. Never has raw food tasted so good.

Maison de la Plage

The Grilled Octopus (AED 105) is a meaty morsel. The tender tendril is enlivened by a sweet bell pepper sauce and the smooth yet mild flavour of cauliflower purée. Chef Izu’s lamb dishes have become somewhat of a signature and the trio of Marinated Lamb Cutlets with pita bread and spiced aubergine (AED 205) do not disappoint: tender, juicy and moreish. 

At La Poissonerie, diners can select their fish and have it served raw, grilled, baked Mediterranean-style, served with a salt crust, prepared Harissa style or pan-fried meunière. Thanks to its Mediterranean stylings with spiced tomato, olives and potatoes, we devour a slender seabass that’s as flakey as it is flavoursome.

You simply can’t skip dessert. The menu features all of the expected classics, including Crème brûlée à la vanille (AED 75), Fudge Tiramisu (AED 75), Pain Perdu with Chantilly cream (AED 75) and Tarte Tatin (AED 170). Regular diners at Izu-fronted concepts will likely make a bee-line for the towering Hokkaido Cheese Ice Cream (AED 110). A literal mountain of dairy adorned with roasted strawberries that is easily enough for two or even three people to share.

Maison de la Plage
The Verdict

Thanks to a combination of thoughtfully sourced ingredients and expertly executed dishes, Chef Izu has once again found the recipe for success. La Maison de la Plage is a beautiful beachfront haven serving simple yet elegant cuisine that prioritises premium ingredients. The Cote d’Azur might be 6,400 kilometres from the UAE, but it feels closer at Maison de la Plage.

GO: Follow @maisondelaplage_ on Instagram for more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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