Deep within the underground arcade of DIFC’s Marble Walk, Refresh Delux Café catches the eye with its honey-toned timbers, shimmering copper accents, peacock-blue armchairs and terracotta pots that hold a profusion of lush, leafy plants. These vibrant pops of green offer the perfect introduction to this eco-minded eatery, which is reshaping the concept of ‘fast food’ in the city.

Owner Nicholas Couvaras is on a mission to bring fresh, wholesome dishes to the time-poor, but taste-savvy, diners of DIFC, with a commitment of ‘kitchen to table in 10 minutes’. Offering an antidote to the fridge-cold sandwiches and pre-prepared salads many of us resort to during our lunch break, Refresh’s modern Mediterranean menu places an emphasis on organic, locally grown produce, bolstered by cherry-picked ingredients from Europe.

So, while the tomatoes and basil served with your caprese benedict are homegrown, the buffalo mozzarella has been flown in from Italy. The butter for the exceptional house-baked croissants is delivered especially to the cafe from France, and the feta, kalamata olives and oils have made their way from Greece to your table.

Inspired by these premium ingredients, British chef Max Strait has done a stellar job of bringing the sunshine-bright flavours of the Mediterranean to this subterranean space. The lunch and dinner menu features elevated cafe favourites including steak sandwiches, kale salads and smoked salmon bagels, alongside restaurant-quality mains, such chilli prawn linguine or seared seabass with spinach and wild rice.

Refresh Delux Cafe review

We’ve arrived during breakfast time to find a tight edit of eggs, pancakes and nourishing bowls. We kick things off with strong, sweet Greek coffee, then order a handful of dishes to try. First to hit the table is a healthy twist on pancakes. Here, avocado adds an underlying richness and pale green hue to the fluffy pancakes, complemented by a not-too-sweet blueberry compote, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes and sunflower seeds for crunch.

Next is a Mediterranean omelette, a winning combination of organic eggs, herbs, olives and feta that offer a nod to Nicholas’ Greek heritage. To finish, we share a bowl of sugar-free coconut bircher muesli, which has a gentle hint of sweetness thanks to the accompanying roasted apple puree and fresh berries.

There’s balance and restraint to each dish, as the kitchen’s minimal use of oil and sugar allows the natural ingredients to shine through. In a town where breakfast can often leave you feeling ready for a nap, Refresh Delux Café is a breath of fresh air.

Shop 20, Level B1, Main Gate,
Marble Walk, DIFC, Dubai,
tel: 04 770 6698, visit: refreshcafe.com

Hungry for more sustainable restaurants in the UAE? Check out The Lighthouse in the Design District or Sean Connolly’s seafood restaurant at Dubai Opera.