What does vanilla bring to mind? If you’re like most people, vanilla is but chocolate’s less popular cousin. This luxurious, aromatic spice, has over time become the pejorative shorthand for all things boring, bland, and banal.
From vanilla ice-cream to ‘Plain Vanilla Camilla’ the spice has gained a reputation.
If vanilla has a PR problem, then Mövenpick’s Forknife has fixed it. Restoring the maligned spice to it’s former, fragrant glory with their Vanille Salée.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to sample their menu on their opening night. Located on the first floor of Mövenpick’s West Bay branch, Forknife is a softly lit alternative to the hustle and bustle of West Bay perfect for an intimate dinner with friends.
My sister, who was accompanying me for the evening, and I were joined by two other local bloggers, as well as Sara Assad and Aprille Balbin from Mövenpick’s PR team.
Vanille Salée is a selection of six savoury dishes (salée is French for savoury) that incorporate vanilla as one of their key flavours.
Inspired by the success of the Vanille Salée in Europe, a similar menu was created for diners in Asia and Africa. Vanille Salée will be available in every Mövenpick in Qatar and across the Middle East, Asia and Africa up until the 21st of March.
Without further ado, let’s get to the meat of this post. (See what I did there?)
Vanilla is not a spice that shows up often in Japanese cuisine, and certainly not with sashimi. So naturally, I was curious to see how well Forknife’s chefs would pull it off. The sashimi was fresh and beautifully plated, and the tangy vinaigrette had just enough vanilla to really bring out the taste of the sashimi.
Never one for fish, my sister ordered the white onion velouté soup. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a soup quite so pretty, I was almost sorry to see her drink it.
For my main course, I ordered the Wild Chilean Sea Bass and Witlof. This is hands down one of the best sea bass dishes I’ve ever eaten. Sea bass, with witlof, vanilla, and black salsify is a pairing that deserves to go down in culinary textbooks around the world. The fish was cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. And the vanilla which was only a subtle aftertaste with the sashimi took center stage with the sea bass.
The salsify, the witlof, the white chicory, the sea bass, and of course, the vanilla came together in an ambrosial masterpiece that tasted even better than it looks. This is the kind of dish that will bring diners back again and again. And again.
While I was absorbed in the culinary experience that was playing out on my taste buds, my sister was digging into a hearty veal tenderloin jardinière. I may or may not have stolen a little bit of her veal. As expected, the meat was perfectly tender, not overspiced like veal often is, and perfectly complemented by the assortment of vegetables that came with it.
While not part of the Vanille Salée menu, Sara and Aprille offered to let us grab dessert from the buffet.
To the left is a beautiful mango parfait topped with what tasted like a crumbled macaroon. I loved that we could taste real mango instead of the overly sweet synthetic flavouring that some places opt for.
To the right is a white chocolate cremeux topped with pistachios and a single blueberry. Pretty to look at, delicious to eat.
My sister and I had a wonderful evening; there was great company, exquisite food, and a relaxing ambiance. If you’re looking for something different while still enjoying a quiet night out, head to Forknife for a meal overlooking the glittering buildings of West Bay. I can promise you won’t be disappointed.
Vanille Salée is anything but vanilla.
Vanille Salée is running every night at all Mövenpicks across Asia and Africa until the 21st of March.
Note: While I was a guest at Forknife on this occasion, all opinions are my own.