Where to celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth's reign
Right now, the UK is preparing to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. That’s 60 years on the throne, during which time the Queen has made several state visits to Dubai. The official anniversary of her coronation is Saturday June 2, but those lucky Brits will be getting a four-day weekend to enjoy it. Cue plenty of Union Jack-waving, camping on The Mall in London to catch a glimpse of her car, and street parties up and down the country.
The latter is what everyone is really looking forward to: bunting-clad tables stretching the length of residential roads, piled high with cucumber sandwiches, Scotch eggs, Coronation chicken and Victoria sponge cakes. Sound good? Read on for Dubai’s own versions of this uniquely British celebration.
Barasti: Barasti first showed its penchant for a royal knees-up in April 2011, when it hosted a bash to mark the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Along a similar theme, this Dubai nightlife institution will be holding a special day of Jubilee events on Saturday June 2, giving revellers a chance to don their Union Jack hats once again. Guests will be able to watch all the royal events happening in the UK – including the Thames river pageant and the Jubilee beacons – on the venue’s big screens, and Barasti has also introduced a special menu. Uniquely, it hasn’t opted for the usual twee British angle, but is instead offering comic interpretations on a royal concept. Dishes include the ‘Hot Canine Deluxe’, which (breathe a sigh of relief) is simply hotdogs, and presumably a reference to the Queen’s love of corgis. Also on the menu is ‘Le Royal with Cheese’, ‘Roll Royce Tikka’ and a ‘Buckingam LT’ sandwich, but we’ll leave you to work those ones out for yourself. Free entry. Dishes from Dhs25. 11am-1.30am, Saturday June 2. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort (04 399 3333).
The Rivington Grill: This slick British venue will be adding some special Jubilee-themed blackboard specials to the usual menu. Coronation chicken, an Anglo-Indian-inspired concoction invented 60 years ago for the Queen’s coronation, will of course be on offer. A few other choice examples include Buckingham pâté with chutney and toast, beef Wellington, and queen of puddings. Guests can also enjoy king prawn curry and rice: although not particularly British, we’re sure Queen Victoria would have approved. Mains from Dhs180. Jubilee menu served noon-11pm, Tuesday June 5. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 423 0903).
Raffles Dubai: The hotel is going all out for the Jubilee, turning the Raffles Ballroom into a British-style street party (albeit indoors) for its brunch on Friday June 1. Think bunting, long tables – each with a different theme – and traditional roasts with all the trimmings. Also on offer is the ‘Mile End Pie & Mash shop’, a take on this East London tradition, and the ‘Billingsgate Fish Market’, named after the famous market in the British capital. Other food offerings being prepared especially for the event include smoked haddock and leek quiche, Scotch eggs, and gala pie, and save room for blackberry and apple crumble, sherry trifle and Bakewell tarts. Children can enjoy street-party entertainment such as a clown and face painting, while adults can enjoy something more luxurious with the chance to win a trip to the Savoy Hotel in London. Dhs475 (house beverages); Dhs300 for those aged 12 to 20, Dhs150 for kids aged six to 11, free for kids under six (max two per couple). Advance payment recommended to confirm booking. 12.30pm-4pm, Friday June 1. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 8888).
Bateaux Dubai: We all know the Queen has an affinity for sailing: after all, huge ocean liner the QE2 (currently moored in Dubai) is named after her. While we can’t promise you a trip on the famed cruise ship, Bateaux Dubai offers the next best thing, serving a distinctly British high tea aboard a boat on Dubai Creek. The afternoon tea includes gourmet sandwiches, scones, chocolate éclairs and baked pear tart. Dhs195 (bubbly). Daily 3pm (boat departs 3.30pm). Bateaux Dubai, Dubai Creek (04 399 4994).
Jamie’s Italian: Italian food, yes, but this British chef’s Dubai outlet will be putting on a special feast to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Designed as a series of small plates and platters for two to share, the feast menu will include the restaurant’s signature ‘meat plank’ of cured meats and antipasti. Also featured in the feast are Jamie’s penne arrabiata, truffle risotto, beef with polenta, salsa rosso crudo, polenta chips and hunter’s stew. Although, strangely, no ‘Regina’ pizzas. Dhs275 for two. Jubilee menu served noon-11pm, June 2-5. Festival Centre, Dubai Festival City (04 232 9969).
Eat like a queen in Dubai We reveal where to sample the favourite dishes of monarchs past and present.
Queen Elizabeth II (reigned 1953-present) Among reputed favourites such as smoked haddock and grapes, Her Majesty is also rather partial to chocolate cake. It is reported that in between cutting ribbons and studying official documents, the Queen makes time every afternoon for a light tea that includes a slice of her favourite cake. Among the best we’ve tried in Dubai are the sizeable chocolate cakes on offer at Magnolia Bakery, which can be bought whole or per slice. Bloomingdale’s, The Dubai Mall (04 350 5440).
Queen Victoria (reigned 1876-1901) Aside from more uncomplicated preferences, Queen Victoria is said to have had a penchant for ostrich eggs, a habit she is thought to have picked up on the French Riviera. Other egg-related habits include a daily breakfast of hen’s eggs, served with a golden egg cup and golden spoon. According to Tom Parker Bowles, a respected food writer in the UK (as well as the son of the Queen’s daughter-in-law, Camilla), Victoria was also fond of curry. Well, would you expect anything less from the first English Empress of India? For an authentic and uncomplicated British curry, head to Brick Lane, which offers homely, traditional comfort food. Barsha (04 399 6786).
Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) England’s Virgin Queen held her own ‘Good Night Ceremony’ every evening at 9pm, which involved eating white bread, which was not commonly available at the time. Like the current queen, Elizabeth I also reputedly preferred fish, rather than meat. Want to try some in Dubai? Pierchic was named Best Seafood Restaurant in Time Out’s 2012 Restaurant Awards, so it’s the most fitting destination to ape this iconic queen’s dietary mores. This restaurant may have a French name, but Elizabeth would be relieved it’s not Spanish. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).