Where to impress your clients into making a deal ...
Time Out Dubai staff
Café Chic: Always just shy of trendy, this otherwise excellent French restaurant has, at various intervals, served some of the city’s best (and most traditional) Gallic fare. It quietly relaunched in July last year but still hasn’t managed to attract the crowds it deserves. Starters of king prawn ravoli and a tuna and salmon carpaccio (served with winkle butter) were simple dishes that worked but didn’t astound. A milk-fed veal tenderloin was presented brilliantly: each side formed a neat square and the whole represented an attractive grid but again lacked a little flavour, though came with an interesting pumpkin gratin.A lobster plate served like a haute TV dinner with a mini-cauldron of lobster and coral soup was filling but, again, lacked seasoning. Save room for the restaurant’s signature soufflés, of which half a dozen are on offer. The strawberry version is the most intense dish of the lot. Café Chic still has potential, which would normally be a promising sign. But considering that the restaurant has been around for nearly 10 years, it needs to really fulfill this.
Le Méridien Dubai (04 217 0000)
Manhattan Grill: Somewhere amidst the wonderful rainforest of the Grand Hyatt lies the sublimely sleek and silky gem of a restaurant, Manhattan Grill. It's a classy affair from the moment you walk in: darkly-lit, it has a sophisticated yet gentle atmosphere – one that, true to name, you'd be likely to find in New York. Every member of staff strikes the balance of good service perfectly – they're there when you need and not so when you're after a bit of privacy. Finished plates are cleared immediately and there's a confidence instilled to handle even the most complex of requests with a broad smile. If the service is good, the food is a delight. The grills, from the wagyu beef to the lobster, are knockouts. You'll struggle to find better in Dubai in terms of taste and texture. The chefs demonstrate an excellent understanding of what makes a good grill and this, combined with a presentation full of finesse and panache, makes Manhattan Grill a true winner in a land of faux-grills. Throw in, too, a mouth-watering selection of desserts, particularly the yummy cheesecake, and you have everything. This is by no means a cheap eat but you'll have no regrets parting with your dirhams for what will be a special meal.
Grand Hyatt Dubai (04 317 2222)
Okku: Not one to sit on its laurels as a pretty place for pretty people to sit, drink, nibble on sushi and absorb attention, Chef Hugh Gardiner has diligently fine-tuned the menu at Okku, ensuring the food lives up – if not surpasses the shimmering, glittering environs. Reassuringly, Hugh says that there’s work to be done, though you wouldn’t think so after tucking into the velvety sushi, wasabi rock shrimp tempura and the old favourite – black cod. The restaurant does have its shortcomings, mind – the so-called ‘sushi bar’ is little more than a bar where they park customers who didn’t call in time to reserve a table. But if you can, reserve a private dining booth – a sunken room with cupboard like doors where you can dine in utmost peace and quiet…and if you get stuck into the fabulous mixed drinks you might be tempted to try and stay.
Monarch Dubai (04 501 8777)
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.
InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111)
Rivington Grill: Perched on the waterfront at Souk al Bahar, the restaurant is reminiscent of a London gastropub – think white-washed 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. On our last visit we tucked into the pea and leek soup and the salmon salad for starters. The latter dish was expertly presented: a plump, pink cut of salmon resting serenely on a fresh bed of emerald salad. A rib-eye, a handsome cut of meat that was well cooked, proved a little too fatty. A chicken and leek pie, meanwhile, consisted of fluffy, expertly prepared pastry encasing generous chunks of chicken, fresh leeks and a rich white sauce. 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.
Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0903)
Ruth’s Chris Steak House:Proud of its 45-year-old American heritage, the chain has restaurants in more than 32 US states. Far from being stereotypically brash and boisterous, it takes the best bits of American hospitality (first-class service, a lively vibe), then adds sleek, modern décor and sinfully tasty food for a dining experience that ticks all the boxes. The Dubai outpost of the chain, nestled in The Monarch, doesn’t have the same heritage, but that hasn’t stopped it from drawing a loyal following – unlike many restaurants in this city, it attracts a buzzing crowd most nights. As for the steaks? You can always trust the Yanks to get it right: prime cuts of meltingly tender USA Midwestern beef are served on plates heated to 500F and sloshed with diet-busting melted butter. Sides are sold separately and follow the American tradition of bigger-is-better: we’d advise sharing, provided you can agree on which of the seven different types of potato to try (the sweet potato casserole is divine). If all those carbs haven’t done you in, the sizeable desserts are the perfect way to round off your meal.
Monarch Dubai (04 501 8666)
The Exchange Grill:There are many fine-dining restaurants to choose from in Dubai that promise mouth-watering cuisine and a handful that offer an impressive steaks. However, many restaurants lack atmosphere and ambience to go with the food, which is where The Exchange Grill places itself above the rest. Situated on the fourth floor of the Fairmont Dubai, it's charmingly cosy, perfectly lit and the size of a large dining room. Specialising in grills and seafood with ‘modern flair’, this is the place to go to for steaks with a twist – but don’t be tempted to forego starters. The tuna tartare with avocado is generous in size and taste, while the tasty blue crab cakes with smoked bell pepper butter are perfection. For mains, we opted for the 10oz filet mignon, which was grilled just so, and the steaks were served alongside a medley of potatoes (the crisp truffle and parmesan fries were particular standouts). If red meat’s not your thing, there are abundant offerings, such as the pistachio-stuffed chicken, and butternut squash ravioli.
Fairmont Dubai (04 311 8316)
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.
Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8088)
Zuma:Although it’s been open a few years now Zuma hasn’t lost any of its shine, the split level bar and restaurant is always full every night of the week with businessmen, families and regulars who adore the legendry miso black cod. Choose between the impressive sushi bar or comfy tables whilst the waiting staff zip back and forth, we’ve yet to see them make a mistake. Zuma’s Japanese menu is extensive and to navigate it takes resolve, because everything sounds so good. If you can’t decide, indulge in the new tasting menu – six or seven courses that includes lobster miso soup, sashimi and maki (which come with fresh wasabi impressively grated at your table), carpaccio, tuna tartare, the afore mentioned black cod and the biggest pile of desserts we’ve ever seen. Trust us when we say you’ll need a few hours for this, but it’s a fantastic way to while away a weekend evening. Part of Zuma’s popularity is it is a place about town to be seen (and a pre dinner mixed drink upstairs helps you do just that) but also the attention to detail, whether it’s in food quality, dining requests or attentive staff is remarkably refreshing, in a city where all too often mediocrity rules the roost.
Sheikh Zayed Road (04 425 5660)
Azur All-Day Dining: Overlooking the splendor of the Raffles Botanical Garden on the third floor, Azur features an international buffet with an abundant choice of Pan-Arabic and Asian dishes. Watch live cooking stations before hitting the dessert buffet to find an array of mouth-watering cakes, pastries and Arabic sweets. Soak up the sun on the outdoor terrace, which is surrounded by a luxuriant tropical garden. Heaven.
Raffles Dubai (04 314 9888)
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Italiantaste May 26, 2011 07:59 am
We love this place: it's one of the few restaurants in Dubai where price is justified by high quality food and service.
And it's really elegant, not pretending to be so. Maybe the big crowd is not there only for the location or for bad P.R.