Hidden Gem - A place of refreshing candour

Friends Avenue CaféThe café is ideal for a casual hang-out with friends or a quiet place to work / Image Credit: Friends Avenue Café

Cool breeze and a cosy al-fresco seating, crystal clear water and nostalgic decorations on the wall—Friends Avenue Café seems ready to entice the moment one walks in. Inside the restaurant, the décor is inspired by the back streets of New York, and is ideal for a casual hang-out with friends or a solitary place to work with a coffee in hand.

The story of the café's origin is interesting too. While most homegrown eatery concepts have revolved around their owners' love for Dubai, here's a different story. The three young entrepreneurs are originally from Uzbekistan and have chosen Dubai to start their different business concepts, the first one being the Friends Avenue Café. Probably one of the youngest restaurateurs in the UAE, the trio — Fazliddin Kosimov, Davron Hamidov, Ziyovuddin Alikhonov are all in their early twenties. Their café, which has just opened doors in February 2015, is gradually gaining popularity as a venue that serves delicious food and offers comforting space.

As the name suggests, friendship is the core concept of this restaurant. ''Everything started with our friendship,'' explains Fazliddin. ''Although we are originally from Uzbekistan, we spent a lot of time in the US, mainly in New York. I went to London to study and the others went to Finland. During our university years we constantly travelled to the US. We worked there and the three of us wanted to establish something that would be creative.''

The three had different ideas to work on and a few countries in mind while setting up the business, but finally ended up choosing Dubai.

''After landing in Dubai last September, we brainstormed and worked for 24 hours, doing everything ourselves — starting with the grilling and the décor,'' says Fazliddin. ''We wanted this café to reflect the friendship between the three of us at different levels, and the décor reflects that idea.''

The menu is a mix of street food as well as traditional fare. Although inspired by Jamie Oliver, the boys have added their own touches to the menu, which changes every week. The focus is on home-made healthy food that is also trendy. Everything is baked and nothing is ever fried.

While protein wraps share centre stage with friendly shakshouka and cinnamon flavoured French toast, Fazliddin adds, ''We want the younger generation to connect to us and try to make sure that this place is considered a casual hang-out with wholesome food and good coffee. You can sit out for hours and choose something from the menu that suits your mood''.

Raw Coffee Company supplies the speciality coffee and every effort is taken to maintain that the ingredients are locally sourced and organic, as much as possible.

The construction and the roadblocks do pose a temporary challenge, but there is already a long list of loyal diners. There are families who come from far during weekends as well as residents from the neighbourhood.

The shelves on the walls are detailed with knickknacks and antiques flown down from Uzbekistan, including the cotton flowers that come out of dried fig branches. If you are looking for that very special corner where you can escape for hours with a book in hand, or hang out with your friends over a good meal in a bright lively ambience, the Friends Avenue Café welcomes you and encourages you to come and say 'hello'!

Friends Avenue Café is located on the ground floor of Fortune Executive Tower, Cluster T, Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

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Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property WeeklyPW

The author is the founder of Foodemagdxb.com and the author of ishitaunblogged.com

This section features lesser-known places and events that are delightfully distinct in their own way. It could be a quaint little café or simply a charming lake. If it's got character and brings a smile to your face, it's a hidden gem that will find a place on this page. If you know of a hidden gem, email the Editor at: enag@gulfnews.com

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