Things were off to a good start when we arrived early to take advantage of breathtaking view of the sunset from the outdoor terrace. The decor, as expected, was stunning: a dark wood, modernist interior gives way to a multi-level space with sunken seating and understatedly greige-coloured bean bags. (Griege is the happy marriage of grey and beige, if you have to ask – the colour that is to the noughties what magnolia was to the ’90s: safe, ‘classy’ and ubiquitous.) By day this terrace is light and relaxed; by night it is dimly lit and relaxed. But at all times Calabar offers one of the city’s best views of the Burj Dubai, the nearby Souk Al Bahar and what – once it’s finished – looks set to be the truly spectacular sweep of The Dubai Mall’s promenade.
It seemed like nothing could break our reverie, we were all set to dub this sleek bar as our new favourite spot in Dubai. And then we tried to order.
Our relaxing experience quickly turned into a game of ‘grab the waiter’. Even after we hunted our server down at the night’s end to settle up, we were left waiting for the bill, until, finally, we had to track down an elusive staff member on our way out). The drinks and the food, to give them their dues, were mainly spot on. The crisp-coated hammour rivalled Japanese tempura in the lightness of its batter. Though the mussels, floating in an otherwise deliciously smoky chimi churri sauce, were gritty. But at these prices (teeny ‘tapas’ ranged from Dhs50-Dhs75), and in this setting, we expected more.