Say hola and bienvenido to the latest restaurant on the Dubai scene, Quiero. Spanish for “I want”, it brings to the emirate the traditional flavour of Spanish food, authentically cooked by a Spanish head chef.
Located in Barsha South, the restaurant is the brainchild of Anisia Pienaar, who missed the authentic tastes from her childhood cooked by her mother. Not wanting the rest of the world to miss out, Anisia decided to open her own restaurant and make her Mum, Mary, the head chef.
Stepping in to the quaint and cosy restaurant feels like being transported to Andalusia, with Quiero’s simple yet homely design and images of Spanish locations projected on the large screens. The open kitchen is a site to behold, where diners will be welcomed by Mama Mary, cooking with colours and fragrances.
Dishes include creamy scrambled eggs with garlic mushrooms, pastries of the day or typical Spanish toasted bread with olive oil and salt. The lunch and dinner menu is bursting with tapas options from patatas bravas to gazpacho, breaded vegetables, an assorted Spanish cheese platter and various seafood dishes such as calamari, cuttlefish, and prawns.
Of course, grand Paella dishes are available, cooked with either chicken, seafood, vegetarian or black rice. Quiero also has a Fideuá, which is the same as a paella, but with a small pasta instead of rice.
The restaurant is open for dine-in and takeaway, from 8am until 10pm, seven days a week. Here, we interview Anisia for a look at the new venue.
Tell us about how you have chosen the name ‘Queiro’; is there a story behind it?
Quiero means “I want” in Spanish and I wanted to bring something new to the market. When you add “te” in front of it, it becomes “te queiro”, which means “I love you”, but it was that feeling of “want” that we wanted to convey.
What were some of your mum’s dishes that made you think this would be a hit in Dubai?
Chef Mary’s menu will take you to Valencia and its surroundings, where the dish Paella is said to be the perfect union between two cultures from Spain: the Romans, for the pan and the Arab, who brought the rice.
Her tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette), gazpacho (chilled tomato soup) or delicious Paella (vegetarian, chicken, seafood or mixed) are a few of the highlights from our menu. We’ve had many Spanish guests say it reminds them of their childhood and already a lot of happy repeat visitors from around the world.
What challenges have you faced when opening a restaurant, especially during a pandemic?
Having to do business over video calls. We’re so lucky that we have the technology to be able to do this, but nothing beats a one-on-one conversation, especially when we needed to visit locations, meet with banks and acquire the necessary permits. Everything just felt like it was taking more time than ever, which is when I learnt my most important lesson in the whole process: patience.
How are you planning on competing with the new Spanish venues popping up all over the emirate?
We pride ourselves on our quality, not our quantity. We’re a small restaurant, but everything we do, we do with perfection and passion. From the incredibly large wooden tables in our cosy restaurant to the impeccable and authentic food, we’re keeping true to our Spanish roots and providing an authentic experience.
What would you tell diners who have not visited yet?
Come with a hungry tummy as our portions are extremely generous! We always recommend starting with a Gazpacho, then a couple of tapas dishes shared finally moving on to our magnificent paellas, which can easily feed three or more.
How do you blend experience and food?
Chef Mary has more than 20 years’ experience. She previously worked at our restaurant in Spain, in a small city called Onda. Last year, I enrolled in a course at Dubai College of Tourism, where I learnt how to create a successful business here in Dubai. Combining this business knowledge with Chef Mary’s expertise and talent meant we knew we could create something really special.
What are your expansion plans?
We would like to expand Quiero from catering for birthdays, gatherings or a simple dinner with some friends in the comfort of your home, when you don’t feel like spending the whole afternoon in the kitchen.