Designed by local studio Bishop Design, La Serre is a recently opened Parisian bistro and boulangerie that offers customers an array of dining experiences. From the ground floor boulangerie to the second floor bistro, the new locale’s design incorporates a number of authentic and inspired decors that pay homage to the south of France.
“I wanted to create a boulangerie/bistro experience, creating a fusion of cultural identities to produce something unique. The challenge was in combining a sleek and contemporary location which typifies modern Dubai with the charm of a Parisian bistro,” comments Izu Ani, La Serre’s prominent head chef who also formed the restaurant’s concept.
Upon entering La Serre, customers are greeted by the warmth of a traditional French bakery that offers freshly baked goods and crisp, warm bread. The imagery offered is oevocative of provincial France.
Paul Bishop, managing partner, Bishop Design, explains: “A more casual walk-in dining experience with an integrated boulangerie offering up freshly prepared dishes [was to be located on the ground floor].
This was considered as a natural extension, or overflow, to the boulevard and was reflected in the use of materials, furniture, details and finishes applied within, with the emphasis concentrated upon the open kitchen and food preparation areas forming an integral dynamic to the space.”
The first floor, which can be accessed directly from the street via an independent main staircase, maintains a more refined, provincial inspired style. The black and ivory porcelain tile floors evoke imagery of traditional French kitchen design, while the polished white walls and counters mixed with wooden details such as the chair legs and flooring offer a calm and elegant setting.
When commenting about the first floor, Bishop explains: “The requirement upon this floor was to accommodate a chef’s table that would be a versatile space allowing it to open to the main kitchen and restaurant alike, an accommodating drinks bar for pre and post dining, and a more formal dining experience for lunch and evening sittings, yet still maintain a…connection to the venue below.”
Although the two levels differ from one another in terms of formal etiquette and ambiance, Bishop is adamant that the two work well together and are undeniably connected.
“Each floor has an independent culinary food offering and differs in its visual aesthetics. Each was intrinsically linked to the other… A sensory connection was established between levels as the aroma of freshly baked pastries and breads tantalised the atmosphere within,” he notes.
La Serre comfortably measures at 1,003.76m2 in the newly refurbished Vida Hotel on Emaar Boulevard. The home grown idea created by the celebrated chef Ani aimed to provide a classical environment that would also blend well with the architectural surroundings of Dubai’s downtown.
Discussing the project’s finalisation, Ani notes: “The design is in-keeping with the concept…and it taps into some of what I was imagining.
There are some elements that aren’t as traditionally French as I had originally anticipated. It was a challenge to create something that was classically French without being a caricature and the design had to blend within the environment that it exists.”
Ani and Bishop Design had agreed to create a space that would ultimately speak of the cuisine’s historical culture, but neither wanted to ape traditional French design. And with such an objective in mind, Bishop Design and Ani managed to pull off an authentic patisserie design that truly does transport diners to a more romantic place.
Throughout the restaurant’s two floor layout, diners and customers can enjoy a charming mix of Parisian and contemporary elements. Such elements include the smooth cement surfaces, which range in textures from polished to etched, distressed wooden flooring, “chop house” tile flooring, lava stone counter surfaces, and an edgy combination of cage, jar and rusted metal pendant lighting, which contrast nicely against the more traditional hand blown glass and crystal chandeliers.
Additionally, the furniture pieces that can be found throughout create a sophisticated environment and maintain a natural balance between traditional, antique, readymade and bespoke pieces finished in a variety of textured upholsteries.
“We wanted to achieve a restaurant that communicated the French culture to Dubai, and for it to come through in the design as well as the food. We did it by incorporating elements within the design which
are very typical of France, such as the tables and furniture,” explains Ani, before adding: “Details that evoke the culture but without suffocating it.”
The main eatery on the first floor also allows views of the chef’s table, a large semi-private room that seats a large party of nearly 12 customers and has folding doors along one wall.
“This allows diners to be able to walk into the kitchen and observe the sights, smells and tastes that are happening in the kitchen—[making for] a true sensory experience,” Ani notes.
The first floor centres around the chef and the open kitchen. According to Bishop, the brief requested the integration of the majority of kitchen equipment into the interior design. This allows for a transparent relationship between customer and chef.
Further, Bishop explains that such an objective was achieved by “the subtle use of styling and finishes applied to the varying vertical and horizontal surfaces integral to both spaces, yet independent to each. These spaces were then fused together through the application of the serenely dynamic hand blown chandeliers that animate the atrium of the connected venues.”
The chandeliers are also worth noting, as they offer a successful exercise in industrial lighting. Hanging together from one canopy, multiple cage work light pendants create an industrial chandelier, baring style and light. The modern style and use of brass bode well and juxtapose against the aforementioned polished surfaces and the Swarovski encrusted globe spotlights.
In addition to Bishop Design, who Ani felt understood his vision, Derek Horn from Sefton Horn and Winch also served as a design consultant, particularly for the kitchen. Emaar Hospitality, too, collaborated with Ani on the concept.