From one Greek to you all, GAIA is a must-visit restaurant

Greek cuisine is finally taking some well-deserved time in the spotlight with the opening of GAIA, DIFC’s new hot haunt. Now, most people who meander DIFC are suited booted and shiny – with statement spectacles and leather totes (read: fancy folk) – something which doesn’t automatically chime with Greek grub. But when it opened its doors last month, it ushered in all of the above and then some. Renowned chef Izu of La Serre and carine repute is practically smashing plates with chef Oresti from Greece’s Peloponnese region, as they come together with a menu that’s both rustic and modern. As a Greek with very high expectations, the litmus test for me is always: ‘do I feel transported to a beach-side taverna?’ Let’s just say GAIA’s menu made my heart flutter with pride and joy. Here’s why you need some of it in your life.

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It’s just like Yiayia does it

Everyone’s familiar with Greek salad, moussaka and perhaps our penchant for charred octopus. GAIA goes to the very heart of the cuisine with proper Kalamata olive oil, oregano peppered lamb chops that slide off the bone, spanakopita (spinach pie) made with the loving attention of a yiayia (grandma), baked feta doused in honey and encrusted in sesame and a modern iteration of our beloved sea bream. In Greece we are all for transparency, hence the fish in full form. And you can’t miss the ultimate Greek comfort food: rizogalo – creamy rice pudding.

GAIA Dubai

It’s all Greek to us

Hot stepping around the fresh fish display are the largely Greek kitchen staff who bring a distinct degree of Mediterranean vibes and volume. What brings GAIA’s DIFC PO Box down to earth is the happily animated staff who (even if they’re not Greek) are in the spirit of Greek: fun, chatty and charming.

GAIA Dubai

There’s a souvenir shop in the basement

And no, it’s not crammed with kitschy trinkets. Instead you’ll find books on Greek mythology (spruce up on your gods and goddesses for those quiz questions) old Greek vinyls which can stir a misty-eyed longing in anyone, not just Greeks; the Greek flag for some borrowed patriotism and of course Windex – not really, but I hope you appreciate the reference.

It’s a local favourite already

 

And by local, I mean local, local. I went on a Saturday afternoon (I.e. buzzing brunch hour) and the place was brimming with Emiratis. I happily stood out like a sore thump. Something tells me that the locals who go in their droves to Mykonos over the summer are getting their feta and filo fix at GAIA. Welcome one, welcome all!

And if it’s good enough for HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum…

Then it’s good enough for you, too. HH Sheikh Hamdan was spotted at GAIA earlier this month tucking into some Greek goodness. Enough said.

GAIA is located at Gate Village 4, DIFC. To make a booking call: (04) 241 4242, email: reservations@gaia-dubai.com or visit: gaia-dubai.com 

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