When we first heard there was a new place opening at The H Dubai, we were very excited. But we’ll come clean, when news that it was to be an American gastropub filtered through, we were a little confused. What could the US possibly do to improve that one thing that England definitely gets right, the pub?
In all honesty, there’s plenty that could be done to improve most watering holes – getting rid of the pub bores, lairy types and mouldy carpets being just three. Tired old seating, a small variety of beverages on offer and generic, loud music being pumped out are another trio of pet pub peeves. It’s set where the ingeniously named Belgian tapas bar Bapas sat previously. Thankfully, the very tastefully (and not very differently…) decorated The Black Lion manages to tick almost every box. It’s cool – you could go with mates, on a date, or for a business meeting, and whoever you took along would be impressed. It has a good atmosphere – we could hear bar staff discussing the best way to mix a drink, people chatting at the bar, and groups at dining tables putting the world to rights over plates of tasty grub. The decor is fresh – black tables contrast with whitewashed bricks, red and camel-coloured leather chairs invite you to sit at a table, and kooky photographs and art lines the walls. It’s like all of the places we’ve read about in Brooklyn boiled down into one.
The music was really good – during our visits we heard artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross & The Supremes and Eels. There was plenty of choice – whether you’re after an inventive mixed drink, an off-kilter bottle of hops or a speciality short, the bar menu has them all. However, it is a little pricey; draught hops (which come in smaller measures than most will be used to) are upwards of Dhs43, grape comes in around the same price and mixed drinks a little more (though, they are good). With a few deals and the introduction of a happy hour, you can see this place really taking off.
There aren’t many gastropubs in Dubai and we hope that The Black Lion sticks around for longer than Bapas. The team behind Reform Social & Grill are responsible for this new addition to Dubai’s nightlife, so we shouldn’t be surprised that we like it. And whatever (perhaps xenophobic) misgivings we had about it taking influences from the US were quickly forgotten once we were inside. In fact, we’re checking out flights to Brooklyn right now.
The Black Lion