Time Out Dubai reveals the best restaurants in Dubai
Time Out Dubai staff
Restaurant of the Year
Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, InterContinental Dubai Festival City
Aside from the quirky, contemporary and rather romantic décor, and the wondrous culinary creations that see to come straight from a children’s fantasy book , Reflets’ biggest selling point is the sublime service. Cuisine of such complication (as is Gagnaire’s want) requires translating and explaning, a task that is carried out with politeness and genuine warmth by the maîre d’ – your guide to what is always a memorable culinary journey. The sommelier is equally professional and the rest of the staff exude a dignity that is rarely seen in Dubai’s restaurants. This isn’t to say that the food plays second fiddle. Dishes such as as roasted rack of lamb rubbed with garlic and oregano, or Gillardeau oysters served on a carpaccio of yellow beetroot and black pepper, prove out of this world. It doesn’t matter that Reflets is relatively quiet on most nights – the food speaks volumes.
Outstanding Contribution Award
La Petite Maison
DIFC, Gate Village 8 (04 439 0505)
Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa (04 888 3444)
STAY by Yannick Alléno
One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1010)
A restaurant shouldn't be commended for being 'un-Dubai', but La Petite Maison scores points for offering excellent comfort food in a setting that provides a sense of escapism in a city that, at times, runs short on imagination. The decor oozes continental charm without being contrived and the Niçoise dishes are wonderfully realised. The runners up in this closely contested category were as difficult to choose as the winner. In the end we settled for Armani/Hashi (if the decor is fine-tuned, this restaurant will give Okku and its rivals a run for their money in the 2012 awards) and STAY by Yannick Alléno -a mesmerising restaurant, with a great sommelier and some wonderfully crafted dishes. We expect these three to be competing for top honours next year.
Best South- East Asian
Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730)
Karama (050 26 0889)
Shangri-la Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 405 2703)
All the steamy seduction of South-East Asia is splendidly realised here in Dubai. The region's cuisine invariably makes for a diverse dining experience, which is summed up by Pai Thai. The achingly romantic setting, friendly service, quality fod (of which the portions are enormous) amd reasonable pices have once again seduced us into awarding Pai Thai this year's trophy. As tasty as it is cheap, the food at Betawi Café has elevated this Indonesian restaurant from hiherto obscurity to a highly commended accolade in this category, while the Vietnamese food at Hoi An, with its flashes of French influence, is also highly commended.
Best Latin American
Maya by Richard Sandoval
Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa (04 399 5555)
The Palace, The Old Town, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 428 7888)
Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 348 0000)
From succulent Mexican steaks to burritos bursting with flavour, Latin American cuisine is as diverse as the corner of the world from which it hails. Luckily, the spirit of salsa has been successfully transplanted to Dubai thanks to a handful of quality restaurants. This year, the team at Maya by Richard Sandoval have quietly been conjuring up some really interesting dishes that helped them nail the award, and their inventiveness is aided by regular visits from Sandoval himself. Our annual restaurant awards wouldn't be the same without a mention of Asado and La Parrilla. The two venues have long dominated this category and still deserve high praise, making them worthy recipients of this year's Highly Commended accolades.
Monarch Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8777)
Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626)
DIFC (04 425 5660)
Japanese cuisine has become the food of choice for Dubai's beautiful people, with many of the city's Japanese establishments doubling as trendy nightspots. But substance has to take precedence over style: Okku has both, and its food makes it a worthy winner. Since arriving in Dubai, Chef Hugh Gardiner has dligently set about fine-tuning the Okku menu to near-perfection. Dishes such as the koro koro steak, the yuzu-saikyo miso black cod and the yuan crispy duck always satisfy and excite. Nobu, last year's winner, still serves some of th most exquisite sushi and sashimi dishes in Dubai, thought there is a modicum of inconsistency when it ventures into wagyu territory. Zuma, meanwhile, is still up there with the best, and after recent innovations in the menu is likely to be vying for the top award next year.
The Westin, Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina (04 399 4141)
Frankie’s Italian Bar & Grill
Al Fattan Tower, Dubai Marina (04 399 4311)
The Fairmont Dubai (04 366 6730)
Italian passion knows no boundaries when it comes to food, and this sentiment is embodied in some of Dubai's top restaurants. However, we could only choose one and, for the second year running, it's Bussola. The Westin restaurant has managed to sustain itself as our favorite Italian in that it caters for casual diners (the pizza deck upstairs) as well as offering a more refined dining experience downstairs. Both the restaurant's components offer consistently excellent food. Meanwhile, Cavalli Club has married a greatly improved menu with its fantastic setting, making it a worthy runner up, while Frankie's offers great Italian food at affordable prices.
Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0909)
Beach Bar & Grill
One&Only Royal Mirage (04 399 9999)
Spectrum on One
Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 311 8316)
'International' cuisine is such a broad term. However, Karma Kafé has proved itself a worthy wnner and has redefined the notion of Internaitonal dining in Dubai. There's not a buffet station in sight - rather an exciting array of American-Japanese fusion food and inventive South-East Asian dishes. Meanwhile, Beach Bar & Grill serves everything from seafood to sandwiches in a setting that's ideal for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner. Finally, Spectrum on One offers a mind-blowing array of dishes from around the globe, and matches quantity with quality.
Dhow Palace Hotel, Bur Dubai (04 359 9992)
Indego by Vineet
Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina ( 04 399 8888)
20b Street, Karama (04 336 8332)
Dubai's huge Indian community ensures that the city is brimming with excellent Indian options, from backstreet eateries to high-end hotel restaurants. Choosing a shortlist was difficult, but after scouring the city for the best biryani and the tastiest tandoori, we managed to whittle the seemingly endless list down to 10, then three, then one. We eventually settled on Aangan, which edges ahead thanks to the overall experience it offers - good food, entertainment, service and ambience. Indego by Vineet is a solid option for high-end Indian fare with a contemporary, innovative twist, while perennial favourite Manvaar contnues to impress with its servings of colourful, flavoursome Rajasthani fare.
Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire
InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111)
The Address, Dubai Marina (04 436 7777)
Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222)
Modern-day restaurant culture has been single-handedly shaped by the French. It's no surprise, then, that Dubai's burgeoning restaurant scene features so many stellar French restaurants. And while the food at Reflets is probably best described as 'contemporary', it is still a quintessentialy French restaurant. After all, who but the French could possible invest the love and time into every element of a dining experience - from service to style and ambience to food - as the Reflets team obviously have? Traiteur, once again, has been a sterling contender, with its romantic setting, attentive service and hearty, honest French fare making it a French favourite. The same can be said of Rive Gauche, with its gorgeous setting overlooking the Marina, good-quality food and great service.
Best Contemporary European
Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire
InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111)
Verre by Gordon Ramsay
Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira (04 227 1111)
With Dubai's talented chef's continuing to push the boundaries of haute cuisine, the Contemporary European category gets more exciting each year. This year is no exception, with all the restaurants on the shortlist wowing us with their invention and attention to detail. However, this year we havd to give the gong to Reflets. The food doesn't get more cutting-edge than that prepared by chef Olivier Biles, who represents Pierre Gagnaire's Dubai venture with confidence and verve. The same can be said of Paul Lupton and Scott Price, who fly the flag for Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay respectively. However, as difficult as it was choosng between the three of them and the restaurants they helm, Reflets had the edge thanks to its incredible service and beautiful decor.
Deira (04 295 9816)
The Noble House
Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 314 9888)
Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730)
Coming from a country of 1.2 billion people, which spanns 9.6 million sq km, it's no understatement that Chinese food is one of the most diverse cuisines on the planet. Luckily, there are enough Chinese restaurants in Dubai to capture these culinary traditions. This year's best, we felt, was China Sea. The lo-key Deira restaurant is a haven for the city's Chinese expats and serves some of the least pretentious and most delicious Chinese food in town. its quirky interior and seating (which seems to comprise '70s wicker garden furniture) lools a little tatty in daylight, but the food more than makes up for it. The Noble House deserves commendation for its amazing selection of teas, sensational desserts and the plentiful taster plates, which allows guests to sample the restaurant's colourful selection of dishes. Zheng He's meanwhile, impressed with its ambitious dishes and combination of ingredients and spices.
Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626)
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Monarch Dubai (04 501 8666)
Choosing just one winner and two commendations from Dubai’s abundant steakhouse options was tough. But for us, this years winner had to be Seafire at Atlantis. For some, Atlantis symbolizes Dubai’s heady days of yore (pre-recession) – over the top and exaggerated. But for all its decadence, the hotel still boasts some the city’s best restaurants. Seafire in particular should be commended for great service, attention to detail and, above all, delectable steaks from cattle reared especially for the venue. JW’s Steakhouse came in a close runner-up thanks to its excellent service, beautiful setting and attention to detail from the staff and, of course, the velvety steaks. Likewise, Ruth’s Chris Steak House serves quality steaks, but the sublime service was enough to warrant a mention.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 8888)
Oud Metha (04 366 7177)
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730)
In just a few decades, the small fishing town of Dubai has rocketed skywards in the form of shining skyscrapers. But the city’s proud fishing traditions live on through the wealth of fantastic seafood restaurants that serve the ocean’s offering on the day they were caught. The seafood at Pisces exemplifies this – the setting is fantastic, and dishes such as salmon trout lobster ravioli with vanilla parsnip puree can’t fail but impress. There was some particularly tough competition in this category, and Fish Basket in Oud Metha and Pierchic at the Madinat are worthy runners-up thanks to their emphasis on fresh and expertly prepared dishes.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730)
Many of Dubai’s high-end restaurants seem to be purpose-built to impress a first date or wooing your intended, and in our opinion there’s no better place than Segreto. This classy Italian will most definitely make an impression. From the waterside setting (you arrive by abra) to understated but sumptuous décor, attentive (but not fussy) staff and first-rate cuisine. Segreto is the perfect scene for the most romantic liaisons. Bateaux Dubai deserves a commendation for its unique setting (a boat that takes you along the sparkling creek) and descent food. The winner of this category last year, Pierchic, is still a fantastic place for a romantic interlude-it’s setting at the end of a pier jutting out from the Souk Madinat complex is breathtaking.
Festival Promenade, Dubai Festival City (04 232 6299)
Al Bustan Rotana, Garhoud (04 282 0000)
The Dubai Mall (04 434 1320)
Meal times are fantastic family occasions. But let’s face it: eating out with the family can turn into a dinner-time demolition derby, which is why we chose More Café at Festival City as this year’s winner. Great for starving off dining squabbles, More’s ‘something for everyone’ menu (including a separate range for little people), top-notch grup and abundance of crayons and high chairs has long made it a family favourite. The Festival City branch gets our vote for its spacious terrace and view of the marina. For the category’s two highly commended restaurants we chose Benihana and Carluccio’s – both have great kid-friendly fare as well as ever-so-patient staff.
Dubai has no shortage of great restaurants opening their doors at lunchtime to serve affordable, exciting and delicious set lunch menus. Of there, we chose Zuma’s business lunch – the Japanese restaurant’s slick service and affordable deals (Dhs68 for express; Dhs120 for miso, two appetisers and a main) in the heart of Dubai’s business district ticks all the boxes. Worthy runner-up Manhattan Grill has always been a lunchtime favourite with Dubai’s movers and shakers. Not only is it great value (Dhs100 for three courses), but the chefs keep things interesting with an ever-changing menu. Finally, Okku may not be the first place you’d consider visiting for lunch, but try the three-course Tezukuri menu (from Dhs59 to Dhs99) and it’ll become a regular midday haunt.
Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222)
Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 8888)
Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626)
Ah, the Friday brunch – a Dubai institution. Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, wishing a friend farewell or welcoming newcomer to Dubai, there’s always an excuse for Friday gluttony. But there’s one brunch that continues to set it apart: Traiteur is a sublime dinning experience. Everything from the refined French food to attentive service and setting by the creek oozes sophistication. Yes, you may be paying for the privilege (the bubbly brunch costs Dhs595), but it’s worth every last dirham. Al Qasr was a close contender after slashing its prices while still offering one of the most lavish, over-the-top dining experiences in Dubai, while Saffron scooped a Highly Commended thanks to its mind-boggling food and drinks options at an equally mind-boggling price of Dhs325 – one of the most affordable and fun brunches in town.
Best Bar Food
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah (04 346 1111)
Highly Commended Caramel
DIFC (04 425 6677)
Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 428 5888)
Bar food is so much more than a tiny bowl of peanuts- often it can make or break a night out. This is why we’ve given this year’s accolade to Loca: where else does the waitress mix fresh guacamole at your table? Where else can you get sticky ribs and a pint for just Dhs65 on Monday nights? Caramel, a deserved runner up, serves high-end bar food that’s as good as its cocktails (the sliders are a favourite of ours), while Nezesaussi deserves recognition for its tasty Antipodean fare of consistent quality and reasonable prices (the Aussi Rules Mag-Pie features in Time Out’s recent best pie round-up).
4B Street (Behind the Ministry of Health), Karama (050 226 0889).
Deira (04 295 9816)
Satwa (04 331 5353)
While Dubai is awash with high-end restaurants, it’s fallacy that diners have to pay through the nose for a good meal. Tucked away in the backstreet of Karama, Betawi Café serves authentic and delicious Indonesian fare at authentic Indonesian price (read: cheap). The clientele consists largely of Indonesian expats and sailors, making for a wonderfully refreshing, alternative atmosphere. Betawi Café’s victory came at the expense of last year’s winner, China Sea. However, we still adore the Deira-based Chinese restaurant, which, in our opinion, is the best of its kind around. And then there’s perennial favourite Ravi’s. Yes, everyone knows it, but for good reason – after all these years it’s still serving some of the tastiest cheap eats around.
The Lime Tree Café and Kitchen
Beach Road, Jumeirah (04 349 8498)
Café culture in Dubai isn’t limited to Starbucks and Costa there are plenty of independent brands that have grown up here in the city, giving us more places to escape the bustle of the city life and relax with good coffee and even better food. This year, we’ve been enamoured with the efforts of The lime Tree Café and Kitchen, which has impressed with its desserts, tasty breakfast, cakes and take-home products (the cheese platters and chutneys rock our world). A newcomer last year, Baker & Spice has established itself as a Dubai favourite thanks to the owner’s insistence on using locally grown, organic produce, while local stalwart More Café once again proved a worthy runner-up because of its consistency in terms of both service and fooc, and we’ll always drop in for its huge portions of good-quality grup.
Khan Murjan Souk, Wafi (04 327 9795)
Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8088)
The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 438 0640)
Dubai is blessed with countless quality MENA restaurants, serving fantastic food from Addis to Damascus and Baghdad to Beirut. It’s difficult to know where to start on the quest to find the best restaurant in this category. Still, we persevered and thanks to its winning blend of authentic flavours, brilliant live entertainment and charming décor, Khan Murjan proved a worthy winner. Commendation goes to Al Nafoorah: as far as al-fresco dining goes, you’d be hard pressed to find better in Dubai, and the fresh, authentic food is equally impressive. This can also be said of Sarai, which offers Syrian specialties that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. The venue guarantees a memorable experience, no matter how often you visit.
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Jade de Pao Oct 03, 2011 11:20 am
ambika Jun 21, 2011 08:12 am
Kristian Apr 01, 2011 08:02 am
Thought we would give Rive Gauche a try as we have tried the other two and love them, but only a few days after the awards we rang to book only to be told that it has closed down and is being renovated, revamped and re-named!!?? Bit Bizzare??
Mar 30, 2011 10:28 pm
You guys are truly amazing you are number one
All the best chef
John Mar 30, 2011 09:57 am
Under Best Steakhouse you've spelled Exchange Grill wrong.
In fact, you've spelled it so wrong it now says Seafire, which may be misleading if someone was about to spend a lot of money on a steak.