Enigma means a thing or person that is mysterious, difficult to understand or paradoxical, but no detective skills are required to appreciate this stylish Persian-themed restaurant
Ten minutes from Downtown, Palazzo Versace feels somehow further away, so it’s no surprise to learn it’s a popular ‘staycaytion’ for Dubai residents.
Inside, visitors discover a sophisticated vision of Versace style, unlike the extravagant rock-star aesthetic of its lead designer Donatella (who oversaw the design of the company’s Middle Eastern outpost).
Amongst the restaurants to be discovered within is Enigma, which started out as a rotating concept, tenured for three months at a time by a procession of the world’s best chefs.
Today, Enigma has evolved into a sophisticated Persian spot led by Executive Chef Mansour Memarian. It’s a beguiling experience and lends itself perfectly to an occasion where you are hosting a group of important guests. The slick service and elegant sharing style makes the breaking of the abundant piles of pillowy, warm bread feel metaphorical too. A low-lit ambience and subtly Arabian décor and music also deliver a sense of place if your visitors happen to hail from beyond Dubai.
The dishes represent a superlative expression of Iranian recipes, but with modern and experimental touches such as beetroot foam and dry ice. Their Masto (yoghurt) dishes are sublime, with creamy thickened yoghurt providing the base upon which flavours such as cucumber, shallots, raisins, beetroot and garlic dance. Charcoal-grilled eggplants and an abundance of fresh, vivid herbs punctuate the appetisers.
This is a masterclass in how important ingredients are – deceptively humble classics offer no hiding place to subpar components and every morsel is a revelation of pure flavour. It’s no wonder we overeat, but there is still somehow space to consume tender Kababs – beef on charcoal, minced lamb and saffron-infused prawns and chicken cubes.
An abundance of pistachio and pomegranate-jewelled rice accompanies the meal, which is finished with a magical series of desserts including a deliciously moist brownie served in a treasure box.
The honesty of the finest ingredients the kitchen can lay its hands on is clear in everything we try and it’s no surprise to see the restaurant full with in-the-know local diners, who clearly return here time and time again to savour candlelit family meals.
If you’re entertaining guests from this region who appreciate its culinary traditions, then Enigma sits at the pinnacle of its category. We also happen to think it’s one of the city’s best restaurants full stop – no mystery there. Palazzoversace.com