Occupying the space that once served to house Madinat Jumeirah’s long-standing and not unpopular BarZar nightspot, Perry & Blackwelder’s injects a cowhide-embellished dose of Americana to the Arabian souk.
While it may have the old venue’s skeleton, this new bar and restaurant couldn’t be more different to the previous incumbent. Out with the minimalism and in with the retro rock ’n’ roll posters, neon drinks branding and old-fashioned tin signs. With so much faux memorabilia lavished on the wooden-slatted walls, ‘P&B’ (as it is also keen to be nicknamed), could well fall into the realms of kitsch, but it actually manages to feel like a real American bar. Stools line the four sides of the central seating area, as well as the second bar, positioned directly below on the ground floor. TV screens showing sports are viewable from the majority of the tall tables, booths and lounging corners, adding to the sense of familiarity for anyone who’s spent an evening or two drinking in New York’s East Village.
There’s no deviation from the theme on the drinks, bar and food menus. It’s a smokehouse with a deeply carnivorous core offering. And all good racks of ribs should be washed down with a stiff American drink. There’s a lengthy list of different malt-based varieties to choose from, as well as malt-based mixed drinks and all the usual suspects. Prices are what you’d expect for an outlet inside one of the city’s main tourist hotspots, at around Dhs45-50 for a pint of hops and Dhs45-80 for a glass of grape. Staff are helpful and flexible if not memorably cheerful. Make use of the outdoor terraces while you can, which have great views of the waterways and a more casual vibe than nearby The Agency.
It’s that casual, American feel that will keep us going back. As it gets hotter, Dubai’s drinkers will need somewhere cool to seek refuge in their shorts and T-shirts. With all its fun retro signage and slogans, country and rock tracks bouncing off the walls and kitchen towels on the tables for sticky chicken wing fingers, Perry & Blackwelder’s clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, and expects the same from its customers. Those missing BarZar would do well to give it a chance.
Perry & Blackwelder’s