Eauzone: Boasting a gently lit, waterside location in the calm surroundings of the One&Only Royal Mirage, this international eatery sets expectations high on sight. If you're after a child-free affair, this is the place to come for a wine-and-dine romantic night out. The bread basket is very much an international affair. A stack of prawn crackers, fresh breads and a sort of herb-filled croissant will enchant the tastebuds. Main courses can be a touch drab, but Eauzone gets back on track with its desserts, the double chocolate tart, a deliciously rich treat is accompanied by a white chocolate sorbet and a caramel chocolate sauce – possibly the best dessert in Dubai.
Call 04 399 9999 for more information.
Elia: Despite its Greek menu, there’s a distinctly Swedish feel to Elia. Decked out in clean lines and white furniture, it’s a dining room out of an IKEA catalogue. Thankfully, the air-conditioned terrace is heavy on candlelight and mood rather than fixtures and fittings. The menu is varied, though some of the dishes might need to be explained to you as the descriptions are a little on the concise side. Starters are light, flavoursome and emerge quickly from the kitchen. Unfortunately, both meat and fish main courses are a long way behind and arrive lukewarm to the table. Elia has no problem with flavour, but the slow pace and disinterested service – even on a quiet weeknight – is disappointing. The food, for the most part, is worth visiting for.
Call 04 501 2690 for more information.
Magnolia: Vegetarians rejoice: there is a five-star vegetarian eatery in Dubai. Situated in the divine surroundings of Al Qasr, where you can arrive on an abra from Mina A’Salam if you wish, only adding to the serene ambience, as you waltz up to the candle-lit outdoor garden or spa-like interior. Expect to be surrounded by yoga instructors and fitness fanatics, as you peruse the menu, consisting of imaginative veggie concoctions such as pasted artichokes on mash with mushroom shavings and semi-dried tomatoes, couscous starters, and date and rye bread served with a flavoursome pumpkin dip, all minus heavy sauces and calories. As could perhaps be expected, the food isn’t as flavourful as elsewhere, yet the delicious setting and worthy knowledge that you’ve not just gained any extra pounds makes dining at Magnolia a delight.
Call 04 366 6730 for more information.
Nineteen: Nineteen offers a lovely escape from the city. No matter how many al fresco terraces you’ve dined on, few offer such peace and quiet as Nineteen’s, which overlooks the Montgomerie Golf Course’s rolling greens and lake. You can’t see much of it in the dark (which is why the Friday brunch is an extra-good option), but the lack of skyscrapers, building works and road noise is unbeatable. The service, too, is friendly and efficient, while the prices are reasonable, and would be excellent, if only the food were a bit better. With amuse-bouches, cleansing sorbets, a very select menu and good presentation, it just didn't quite live up to its promise, with the food. It's known for the decent roasts, so a safe bet is to go for the rotisserie meats. Of the two, the chicken is juicier, with well-cooked and well-seasoned veg. It’s likely that you’d return to Nineteen thanks to its unique location. If the kitchen upped its game, it would become your only place to go.
Call 04 390 5600 for more information.
Ossiano: Sublime is the word that best describes an evening at Ossiano. Considering what an achievement it is for a chef to gain three Michelin stars for a restaurant – not to mention just how few three-star restaurants there are in the world – it’s easy to appreciate why a meal here will set you back a small fortune. Guests are treated like royalty, an attitude that is reflected by the interior design of the restaurant. One wall of the dimly-lit interior is occupied entirely by an aquarium, which accentuates the venue’s tranquility. We heartily recommend the tasting menu, which plays on the tastes and textures of Catalan cuisine, and takes diners on an unforgettable gastronomical journey. In short: Chef Santi Santamaria’s first restaurant outside Spain is a pure delight.
Call 04 426 2626 for more information.
Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire: Aside from the quirky, contemporary and rather romantic décor or the wondrous culinary creations that you’d have thought belonged in a children’s fantasy book, perhaps Reflets' biggest selling point (if it’s not too louche to describe such a decadent demure restaurant as having a ‘selling point’) is the sublime service. Cuisine of such complication (as is Gagnaire’s want) needs translating and explaining, a task that is carried out with gentle politeness and genuine warmth by the maitre d’ – your guide to what is always a memorable culinary journey. The sommelier is equally professional and the rest of the waiting staff exude a dignity that is rarely seen in Dubai’s restaurants. This isn’t to say that the food plays second fiddle. Menus such as the lamb based L’Agneaux du Quercy, and the oyster Les Huitres tease and please the palate to equal measure, each dish providing sensory surprises and push the boundaries of culinary creation. An absolutely unforgettable experience.
Call 04 701 1111 for more information.
Rhodes Mezzanine: The restaurant’s dazzling, porcelain white décor gives a visual indication of the food served within – nearly as flawless as the aesthetic, embellishing old-world culinary values with flashes of modernity. The effect is profound and dishes that are featured on the ever-changing menu, such as roasted and braised squab pigeon with white asparagus and a rich lemon gravy and glazed cauliflower, and Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese mousse with sautéed globe artichokes and baby onions left a lasting impact on both palate and memory. While the reputation of the desserts promise much, they can be a little inconsistent – the Great British pudding plate features some wonderful takes on British classics such as sticky toffee and bread-and-butter pudding, but the jam roly-poly has known to disappoint. This, however, should not undermine what is otherwise an excellent gourmet dining experience in the marina.
Call 04 399 8888 for more information.
Rivington Grill: Perched on the waterfront at Souk al Bahar, the restaurant is reminiscent of a London gastropub – think whitewashed walls, light woods, and chrome appointments. The result is resoundingly positive and Rivington succeeds in striking a balance between laid-back lunch venue and high-end restaurant. The menu is an extension of the décor and atmosphere, sporting an array of hearty British staples such as chicken and leek pie, fish and chips, and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It’d be unfair to say that Rivington Grill is an example of style over substance, but it is true that the food doesn’t quite live up to the environs in which it is served. This said, the food is decent enough and well priced at that. What’s more, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to peruse the Sunday papers over a pint of boutique ale.
Call 04 423 0903 for more information.
Verre: Since opening just under 10 years ago, Verre by Gordon Ramsay has played an integral part in shaping Dubai’s identity as a fine-dining destination. The restaurant was Ramsay’s first venture outside the UK and the first to open in Dubai under a Michelin-starred chef’s name. A Dhs395 set menu offers foie gras des Landes with delicately spiced pineapple cubes and a vine tomato minestrone sang with fresh beans, celery, carrot, zucchini, tortellini, and roasted langoustines. A sea bass main and truffled gnocchi, comes expertly paired with smoked salsify and artichoke, while braised belly of Bavarian pork comes with creamed Savoy cabbage, glazed apples, and crackling complementing the dish perfectly. The chilled Valrhona chocolate fondant, wrapped in a towering honeycomb is, as with all Verre's puddings, excellent. The service, a key component at any fine-dining restaurant was knowledgeable without being intrusive, however the setting still needs a little pizzazz to really make Verre sing.
Call 04 227 1111 for more information.
Vu’s: Impressed? You will be. Vu’s restaurant certainly has a wow factor attached to it and that’s before you have tasted the food. After walking into the lobby of the impressive Emirates Towers hotel, take two lifts up to the 50th floor. The clue is in the name and the view is amazing, looking out over Sheikh Zayed Road and beyond that, Jumeirah – and on a clear night you can see the sea. The restaurant is slick and smart and the dress code follows this (proper shoes for gents). A starter of seared scallops melted in the mouth and after choosing a Black Angus beef tenderloin and a slow-roasted lamb loin – neither were disappointing. The serving of sorbets between courses is a nice touch. No matter how good the food, however, it’s the vu (sorry…) that you’ll be telling everyone about when you finally come down from the clouds.
Call 04 319 8088 for more information.