Outlet 360: Intersect by Lexus

Intersect by Lexus opened in DIFC in December 2015, with Tomas Reger at the helm as executive chef

Custom art: the focal point of the venue is behind the bar.
Custom art: the focal point of the venue is behind the bar.
Cooker: the entire range is custom-made by Control Induction from the UK.
Cooker: the entire range is custom-made by Control Induction from the UK.

Front of house

Intersect by Lexus opened in DIFC in December 2015, with Tomas Reger at the helm as executive chef, offering cusuine he describes as “feel good food”.

The Dubai-based outlet was designed to enable people to experience the Lexus brand, and engage with it differently — through food, design, art, fashion, culture, movies, music and technology.

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Developed by interior designer Masamichi Katayama, founder of design firm Wonderwall Inc., Intersect By Lexus aims to create what it calls ‘a third space’ between home and work, to relax and connect with other people. The space includes a library, a garage space that will host Lexus concept cars among other installations, and a display of lifestyle items. The latter is born from a series of collaborations between artisans and designers, creating fresh interpretations on classic products in harmony with the Lexus spirit of craftmanship.

It is evident throughout the venue that the concept has been carefully created with the brand in mind — the bamboo wall is a design representation of the Lexus Spindle Grille, and the upholstered seating is made of the same leather used in the Lexus LFA supercar.

“We’ve had fun making sure there is a subtle hint back to Lexus, creativity and craftsmanship,” shares Benjamin Nicholas, head of Intersect By Lexus. Nicholas, who has more than a decade of experience in UK and UAE hospitality, leads the front-of-house team.

“There is a story for everything [in the outlet] and what the connection is to Lexus. And once you sit down there is a story for the food. Chef Tomas Reger has really focused on the design of the food and the creativity to connect to what Lexus tries to do.”

He continues: “The idea of Intersect is about creativity; it’s not just a restaurant. Yes, we offer food and drink but ultimately we are a creative space for people to connect and create,” adding that this is one of the benefits the outlet brings to the area.

He tells Caterer Middle East: “In DIFC we have restaurants that are within the top five or 10 in Dubai. We’re not here to compete with them, we’re here to complement them. The more restaurants and art galleries that come here, the more it drives people into this space, adding value.”

Dubai is only the second city in the world to host the concept, following a successful Tokyo opening in 2013, but many of the design elements, as well as the menu, are different for the Middle East venue.

Overall though, Nicholas says everything the team has done “connects back to what Lexus tries to achieve — showcasing creativity and craftsmanship”.

Back of house

The menu at Intersect Be Lexus was created by its executive chef Tomas Reger, who has worked for a number of kitchens in the region, and is the man behind ‘Dubai’s Secret Supper Club’, ‘From One Chef To Another’ and ‘Bloomie’s Kitchen’. His dishes on the Intersect By Lexus menu, such as beet and barley risotto; Chilean seabass with yuzu glazed turnips and slow cooked beef short ribs with celeriac purée, are intended to be wholesome, relatively light fare, leaving diners satisfied but not uncomfortably full.

“To best describe the cuisine... I like to call it ‘feel good food’ because none of the dishes are heavy or overcomplicated so they leave guests feeling nourished and invigorated. The cuisine is cosmopolitan with the main focus on ingredients, and their natural flavour is enhanced by modern cooking techniques,” Reger remarks.

Nicholas adds: “The chef has tried to be organic where possible and wants to connect with Middle East food items and products, so he really wants to connect with farmers growing vegetables in the UAE. Our menu, wine and coffee will constantly develop, depending on the time of year and temperature.”

“Intersect By Lexus fits into the type of people that we have here [in DIFC] — young, stylish people who want to have healthy food but are on the go. I like the concept of organic, fresh, simple yet tasteful and flavoursome. We are offering a style of food in a place you can feel comfortable. You can just come in and have a nice cup of coffee, make yourself at home, look at beautiful design books, and have great food and drink at the same time,” comments head sommelier Sarah Belanger, who was the winner of Caterer Middle East’s Sommelier of the Year Award in 2013.

She adds that the wine selection and the food menu work in unison. “We have a philosophy of offering organic products and with the wine list we are 100% organic. It fits with the food and chef Tomas’ vision — to have good quality wine that doesn’t affect the price, we are supporting the wineries that follow that philosophy. It [our wines] gives you the true expression of the grape variety to have organic wines showcase actual grape, the soil and the climate. We worked closely with A&E and MMI to handpick organic wines from their portfolio. We offer all of our wines by the glass and the wines are from all over the world — we picked them because they match the food.”

Discussing the glassware, Belanger continues: “We have great glassware, great food and great wine. We utilised the sommelier range [of glasses] — hand-blown, crystal glass that someone has spent time making. Every single glass we have can be matched with a specific wine; if this type of glass has this particular shape I will purse my lips a little bit more when drinking so then the wine will go more to the back of the throat and hit a specific area of tastebuds, or the amount of oxygen that is mixed in [is a factor in taste]. We chose beautiful glasses for wine — Riedel is an Austrian company and we imported it from its factory. The brand is very well known for its quality and especially the sommelier collection because of the crystal quantity in the glass and the fact they are hand-blown.”

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