Buthaina Al Mazrui and Alamira Noor Bani Hashim have been hosting the most exclusive pop-up dinners in the UAE. We catch up with The Dinner Club 57’s foodies to talk about their success and the opening of No. 57 Cafe in Abu Dhabi.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Buthaina: I consider myself a huge foodie! I’ve always liked trying new things, exploring new places, and travelling the world. I love to cook for my family and friends, especially new recipes. My background and full time job are in Economics, but my passion is definitely food!

Noor: I’ve always been a very visual person. I’m drawn to things that have beautiful packaging and great graphics. I’m always paying attention to design elements and the way things look, even down to the fonts used during movie credits! I’ve been known to try to track down ones I’m particularly drawn to. My full time job is in Urban Planning and my favorite color is grey.

Are you the perfect match? Do you feel that your settings influence your menus and vice versa?

Definitely.We both have different personality traits and interests. Buthaina is focused on food and the business aspects. Noor is focused on the design and décor. We never step on each other’s toes, we both trust the other to do what she’s best at. Noor is organized and focused on the tiniest details. Buthaina is relaxed and calm under pressure. There is such a good fit between us. Our strengths and weaknesses balance out perfectly.

When planning and designing dinners, the event site absolutely influences the menu. After we choose a location, Noor is able to plan the layout and design. After that, Buthaina brainstorms the menu.When we held a dinner on the 126 floor of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the space was entirely bare. Noor created a beautiful and sophisticated picnic space, so Buthaina’s menu was full of easy-to-eat, upscale picnic food like beef sliders and, of course, our signature dessert, the Ermahgerd.

Signature painted animals and setting by The Dinner Club

Signature painted animals and setting by The Dinner Club

No. 57 started with the idea of creating a boutique café. But your plans for the café got obstructed and that is when you decided on creating The Dinner Club. Now, here you are, after a year of successful dinner clubs, do you feel that you have come a full circle?

We’re actually glad things happened the way they did. In the beginning, we were so frustrated that opening No. FiftySeven was taking so long, but in the end it worked out in our favor.We’ve learned so much with The Dinner Club in the past two years and met such supportive, amazing people along the way.We’ve been able to build our brand and hone our skills, which will make our café that much better. It’s also been an absolute pleasure to work with many of the people we’ve met through The Dinner Club on items related to the café.

Noor, you create beautiful settings with each of The Dinner Club’s exclusive, invite-only, and secret locations dinners. The café, will be an everyday-boutique café.What design elements from The Dinner Club will we find at café?Would the Café No. 57 have been the same without The Dinner Club?

Probably not. The Dinner Club helped us refine our brand’s style and substance.The learning experience has shaped what the café will be. Our

You’ll see we’ve paid the same amount of attention to the smallest details at the café. Guests can also recognize some of the same elements found throughout our dinners- neutral colors, layered textures, classic and sophisticated design. We also have a little surprise in store at the cafe, mirroring The Dinner Club’s mystery. At dinners, we’re always thinking of ways to surprise guests with the unexpected while having a consistent aesthetic. That’s what you’ll see at No. FiftySeven, too in its most refined form.

Buthaina, you’re the chef and mastermind in the kitchen. It’s so exciting to be able to order some of your creations.What will be on the menu?

Our most important focus is on seasonal ingredients. We’re so excited to be working with local farms to source ingredients and create a café menu that is international- with our own influence. We’ve added several dishes to the menu that were guests’ favorites at Dinner Club events, such as our quinoa salad and beef lasagna. Our signature dessert is the Ermahgerd,named because people can‘t help but exclaim that on first bite! It’s everyone’s favorite, with plenty of chocolate and marshmallow. Because I’m obsessed with burgers, I’m quite intent on perfecting our own version.The menu is heavily influenced by street food and packed with other elevated comfort foods.

Mini Burgers

Mini Burgers

Beautiful settings created

Beautiful settings created

Guests leave with memorable gifts

Guests leave with memorable gifts

What would be your perfect meal?

Buthaina’s favorite meal is breakfast! Lunches and dinners often feel rushed, but when meeting close friends or family for breakfast, there is a real sense of being relaxed and having time to enjoy.The one breakfast dish she’ll never get over was a perfectly made Florentine Benedict: poached eggs on a toasted English muffin, topped with spinach, mushrooms, brie, and an impeccable hollandaise. We’ve adapted this and added a Benedict to our menu. We hope guests can relax, unwind, and share memorable meals at No. FiftySeven!

If you were to plan the perfect wedding, how would it be like?
The ideal setting would be an outdoor venue, something gorgeous that didn’t require much ex- tra. We love creating an atmosphere that’s stun- ning but not stuffy, so that would be a priority. We’d want guests to feel at home and comfort- able, able to enjoy themselves fully. Among dishes made with fresh ingredients and modern flavors would be Noor’s favorite food- french fries!

You can find No. FiftySeven Boutique Cafe at Building Two in Al Marasy, Marina Bateen, Abu Dhabi. (+971) 2 4416100. (Opening October 29, 2014)