As much as I love to eat out and explore new places and food as I do, there are times when you just want to sit back in an old favourite, look at a familiar menu and order the usual. And what better place than Cream Centre to do so. An Indian (read, desi) restaurant to the core, a vegetarian one that too (clearly reasons enough to be on my favourite list, which it has been since my Mumbai days). I call the cuisine desi despite there being pastas and pizzas and now even an oriental section on the menu, because, well those are very Indian renditions of those popular international dishes. Customized to the spice loving Indian palette. And the proof is in the fact that every visiting relative from back home, we have brought here has absolutely loved the food. But it isn’t only the food we go there for. It is also one of the best serviced places I have been to in Dubai across all budget segments. It is place where the servers welcome you as an Indian father would welcome the guests at his daughter’s wedding. And the kind of staff that leaves you feeling good about the place even on a Dubai-hot summer’s night when you are sweating all over your food due to faulty air conditioning (happened last summer). The kind of place that even offers you free trial dishes on the house if it is your lucky day (please make those dal paranthas a permanent feature on the menu, they were fabulous). And more importantly, despite being immensely popular, the place loves to try new things, be it the winter outdoor seating or a new dishes on the menu.
On one such night last week, wanting the comfort of known menu, we dined at this Oud Metha eatery. Almost everything we have tried on the menu till date has been satisfactory. The paneer tikka double decker sandwich is a must order, it is the only time when I happily eat white bread. A double layered grilled sandwich with spicy paneer tikka, tangy mint chutney, crunchy kachumber salad and flavourful oven dried tomatoes all creating a riot with each bite. The mister’s favourite is the Italian sizzler – a cleverly designed assortment of their most popular pasta dishes like spaghetti in tomato sauce, baby potatoes in parmesan cream sauce, and macaroni in red pepper sauce, served on a hot sizzler plate on a bed of veggies and potato wedges. In the last two months since our last visit, they seem to have made some additions to the menu such as a full page ‘oriental’ section and a few other items added elsewhere on the menu. We also ordered one such addition along with the above two favorites – the CC Signature parantha. The old favourites were just as expected. The signature parantha – well it was not quite a parantha, reminded us more of a wrap, like a pita pockets or a quesadilla perhaps– roomali roti stuffed with veggies like bell peppers and cabbage served with raita and dal. The dal and the raita didn’t somehow go too well with the parantha, but otherwise the parantha was ok. The spicy tangy crunchy mustard flavoured carrot pickle deserves a mention here, I usually munch on it as is while waiting for food to arrive, it comes complimentary with every parantha order (though they even have it as a menu item, in case you want to take home some). They also have a Biryani festival on currently with a long list of all vegetarian biryanis from different parts of India. Made a mental note to come back before the festival ends to try out some of them. Apart from what we ate, the most attractive dish at this place has to be the chole bature, simply, because the batura is the size of a football, actually bigger (yes, it is round and huge, turns heads each time someone orders it, though I have never been able to get myself to order one due to my hatred for all things deep fried).
Do I need to say whether I will visit again or not? Of course I will. Whenever I am too lazy to think of a new place, whenever we cannot make up our mind on the cuisine and feel like a little bit of everything or whenever I just want a good ol’ paneer tikka sandwich, I will return to Cream Centre.