Blow-your-socks-off settings and fine dining at these eateries
Time Out Dubai staff
101 Dining Lounge and Bar There are few better-located restaurants than One&Only’s 101. Perched on the tip of The Palm’s crescent, 101 can also be reached via boat from sister hotel One&Only Royal Mirage. Visit 101 on a good day, and you’ll likely have a sublime dining experience; visit on a rare off day, and you can console yourselves with the great views and setting. One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai (04 440 1010).
Al Dawaar There are plenty of reasonable buffet dinner deals in town, but few of them involve sitting in a slowly rotating restaurant overlooking Deira. Al Dawaar manages to be both minimalist and cosy, marrying the warm tones of a typical Arabic restaurant with the contemporary feel of a more European spot. It’s a philosophy mirrored in the kitchen, and once you’ve made your way round (sorry, too easy) to the spread, you should have no difficulty finding a dish to suit your fancy. Hyatt Regency Dubai, Deira, Dubai (04 317 2222).
Al Muntaha To journey is often better than to arrive, so the saying goes. Located on the 27th floor of Burj Al Arab, the fine European cuisine is secondary to the impressive surroundings. The hotel welcome, glass-lift ascent to the restaurant and Star Trek-ish make promises that the food doesn’t live up to. If you visit for dinner, try to bag a table overlooking the glittering Palm and Marina, so the breathtaking views do not disappear with the daylight. Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, Dubai (04 301 7600).
Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge It may involve a longer journey than most Dubai residents have become accustomed to when in search of refreshment, but this open-air lounge is one of the most relaxing drinking spots in the city. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for camels on the horizon. Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Dubailand, Dubai (04 809 6100).
Aquara Restaurant and Lounge If a view is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong at Aquara. Set in the Marina Yacht Club, the bar and restaurant offer a sweeping vista of the marina and JBR, which is breathtaking when the sun goes down and the myriad lights from the towers set the water sparkling. It’s the reason Aquara has proved perennially popular with the after-work crowd. If you can tear yourself away from the panorama, the menu is worth a look, focusing on seafood with an Asian twist, alongside poultry, steak and stir-fries. Dubai Marina, Dubai (04 362 7900).
At.mosphere There was always the potential for ‘the world’s highest restaurant’ to be packed full of gimmicks. Luckily, At.mosphere avoids this pitfall, instead offering high-quality food in sleek surroundings, albeit at a lofty price. The small yet focused menu sees steak choices kept to a minimum, with just a handful of cuts to choose from (including a couple of top-end wagyu options), but the kitchen does them proud, serving flavoursome, tender meat accompanied by thoughtfully prepared sides. Yes, a meal here is on the expensive side, but no more so than at any of Dubai’s top-end steak venues – at least here you get a great view thrown in to ease the shock of the Dhs1,000-plus bill. Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 888 3828).
Bateaux Dubai Sightseeing may normally be associated with snatched meals and overpriced tourist fodder, but dinner cruise Bateaux Dubai continues to trump all expectations, offering a relaxed trip along the Creek accompanied by generally delicious cuisine. In recent months, the boat has added a ‘high tea’ option, which includes unlimited tea and coffee and a selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes stacked across three tiers. Compared with the rapid service during dinner, you may find it a battle of wills to get your tea and coffee refills before the scones leave you with an uncomfortably dry mouth – in which case we advice slathering on plenty of the homemade jam. So sophisticated does Bateaux Dubai make sightseeing, even the residents are joining in. Bur Dubai, Dubai (04 399 4994).
Bice Mare Classy understated decor, impressive food and a charismatic maitre’d makes Bice Mare a truly memorable experience. With fountain views, black-and-white pictures on the walls, white tablecloths and an invariably busy reservations list, Bice Mare is a ‘special occasion’ spot. The menu focuses on creatures from the sea. The signature dish is a salted cod for two, however the turbot in truffle oil is definitely recommended and rich in all the right ways. Service can be a little underwhelming on the knowledge front, but it’s sincere all the same. Prices can also be a bit of a shock with a small (although delicious) seafood linguine costing over Dhs100; but atmosphere and quality of flavours make the bill easier to digest. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 423 0982).
Bussola An elegant Italian restaurant below, with a laid-back pizza terrace perched on the roof. Bussola caters for two very different audiences, yet keeps everyone happy with its well-prepared Italian cuisine. The restaurant menu concentrates on high-end specialities, including diminutive portions of pasta, plus grills, seafood and risotto, prepared with care by the chefs and presented by well-drilled waiters who glide amid the sleek tables. Hunting for something a little more laid-back? Climb the stairs and you’ll find a roof terrace peppered with wooden tables, plus an open kitchen in the centre preparing authentic, tasty thin-crust Italian pizzas. Jumeirah, Dubai (04 511 7136).
Calabar A bar any visitor to (or resident of) Dubai should go to anyway for its unrivalled views of the Burj Khalifia. But the Spanish tapas are what make Calabar worth dawdling in long after the vista from the bar’s billowing terrace has got tired. There are about a dozen or so small dishes on the menu; the dynamite roll is fried sushi, the Quesadas textbook Mexican, the chilli shrimp would not be out of place in a French restaurant, et centra. A single plate will set you back Dhs50-plus (you’ll need about five to fill up a couple), but each portion is lovingly prepared with precision and taste; the food nearly as classy as the bar itself. The Address, Downtown Dubai, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 888 3444).
La Parrilla A perfect combination of South American style and sumptuous substance; the Latin American restaurant way up on the 25th floor of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel combines a grand setting overlooking the majestic Burj Al Arab with some pretty darn good cuts of meat. Appetisers and palette-refreshers in between courses, such as gazpacho amuse-bouche and lime sorbet, are a nice touch. Meat-lovers should start with the beef estaparda, followed perfectly by the huge rib-eye tomahawk steak on the bone for two. If you’re lucky, you’ll dine amid live Latin American music and dancing. Not the cheapest steakhouse in Dubai, but you will certainly get what you pay for. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah, Dubai (04 348 0000).
La Veranda We will continue to loyally frequent this al-fresco-only beachside pizza joint for one reason, and one reason only: you can sit, enjoying a glass of grape and a pizza for a decent price, while listening to the waves lap onto the beach and staring at the Burj Al Arab. You are literally right on the beach. Location, location, location. Yes, the food isn’t amazing – but it’s passable: we say stick to the pizza, which at around the Dhs60 mark, is affordable, well-cooked and inoffensive. Service is very sincere, and despite lacking knowledge of their cuisine, they’re more than happy to go the extra mile, and did we mention you’ll be sitting right on the beach? We can forgive bland tomato paste when we can sniff the sea air. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah, Dubai (04 406 8999).
Mango Tree Another in the magnificent shadow of the Burj Khalifa Dubai Fountains, Mango Tree was one of the first restaurants in Souk Al Bahar to offer Downtown diners a place to go for a reasonably priced dinnertime experience. Unfortunately, it seems to be sitting on its laurels. Busy every night of the week, you’ll have to book ahead to get a space on the terrace, while inside the restaurant is split into two parts: a modern bar/restaurant and a much quieter back room, which feels a little forgotten and lacking in atmosphere. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 426 7313).
Margaux Restaurant & Lounge Having shed its French restaurant mantle for one of ‘contemporary cool’, the new-look Margaux’s décor is eclectic. Dark woods prevail giving the place an air of sophistication, but is somewhat undone by the bizarre wall hangings – it’s hard to decide whether the portrait of the Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie holding an orangutan’s hand or Arnie lighting up a huge stogie are a stroke of insane genius or just a bit naff. The menu is equally eclectic (wagyu beef rolls wrapped around grilled asparagus, for example) but you can’t help but feel that if it was all fine tuned a little more, and less attention was paid to ladies’ nights and happy hours (it’s a lounge too), Margaux could be a genuinely excellent restaurant. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 439 7555).
Noble House The Noble House is a Chinese take on haute cuisine – from small, perfectly presented plates that resemble works of art, to amuse-bouches and palate-cleansing sorbets between courses. Everything is served with a flourish and the imposing decor and incredible views only add to the wow factor. The large menu is equally spectacular, merging traditional Chinese flavours with modern fusion flair. The pan-seared Australian lamb filled with potato and lemongrass BBQ sauce is a particular highlight, while the more classic scallops steamed with Chinese cabbage and garlic soy are perfection on a plate. While the high price tag may mean Noble House is best kept for those special occasions, it’s guaranteed to be one meal you won’t forget in a hurry. Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha, Dubai (04 314 9888).
Pierchic It’s clear from the offset that Pierchic is a picture-postcard of a restaurant. Situated at the end of a pier off Al Qasr, it’s achingly romantic and this is without the aid of violins or live ‘jazz’ singers all too common in Dubai’s restaurants. Staff are courteous and charming, while the food is equally graceful. The seafood platter is a bonanza of seabass, shrimps and hammour, served on a bed of beans and vegetables, a feast that even two of the hungriest seafood-fanatics will struggle to finish. Everything from the smallest things – like the herb butter and soft bread and the accompanying fluffy rice – to the formidably sized oysters with delicate dressing and the lobster salad underline the strength in depth of the menu. Pierchic is a seriously romantic venue where Romeos will line up to bring their Juliets, but it also serves quality food, making it more than just a pretty face. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai (04 366 6730).
Rare Just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, Rare rewards visitors with a tranquility not often found in the city centre. It occupies an enviable position at the edge of the resort’s polo field, with an expansive covered terrace providing a panorama of the distant Downtown skyline. Luckily, Rare doesn’t rely on its setting to lure folk out of the city, offering a nicely edited menu of Black Angus and Wagu steaks peppered with a few seafood, game and poultry dishes. The food is nicely presented and very pleasing on the palate, although lacking the wow factor. Does the location give it that extra nudge towards greatness? We’ll let you make the trip to decide for yourself. Desert Palm, International City, Dubai (04 323 8888).
Rivington Grill Souk Al Bahar Unlike many of Dubai’s restaurant imports, Rivington Grill feels neither contrived nor out of place. The interior consists of an open kitchen where chefs busy themselves with contemporary British dishes. In the cooler months, book a table on the terrace, which affords great views of The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. Service is professional and friendly, and the food is consistently excellent – dishes are simple and straightforward (think fish and chips, beef Wellington and hearty soups) but shine thanks to aforementioned fresh, seasonal ingredients. It’s almost a cliché to say that this is a restaurant that succeeds because it does the simple things well, but there really is no other way to describe Rivington. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai (04 423 0903).
Shimmers Essentially a deluxe beach shack with wooden floor, heavy furniture, a slatted roof and no walls, Shimmers is a great spot for lunch or a chilled-out evening meal, while offering Burj views without Burj prices. Though the restaurant specialises in international fare, considering its proximity to the beach, it seems only polite (or at least logical) to order seafood (try the calamari), but then there’s also good rib-eye for that proper surf and turf experience. The quality of each serving is not always what it would be at a restaurant that specialises in one of the many cuisines offered at Shimmers, but this is more than forgiven on account of the wondrous location and laidback atmosphere. Mina A'Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai (04 366 6730).
Thai Kitchen You’ll still be astounded by the Creek Marina side terrace of Thai Kitchen, all water fountains, table a deux and sparkly-lit palm trees. It is, in essence, what you move to Dubai for. It’s a good job that the food then manages to claim back some attention from the view, with an interesting take on Thai cuisine. The menu’s split into sections such as grilled, steamed and wok but all the dishes are more like tapas size, and definitely are meant for sharing. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and seafood – with even frogs legs making an appearance but there are dishes for those that aren’t fans of the sea. As waitresses wander round with huge bamboo baskets of fragrant rice to mop it all up with, you won’t mind the slightly stilted arrival of dishes as they’re cooked, which really, just gives you more time to enjoy the atmosphere. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira, Dubai (04 317 2222).
The Meat Co. One thing that The Meat Co Madinat Jumeirah has over its rivals is its location. Perched by the sprawling faux-souk’s canals, the restaurant is perfectly placed to ensnare tourists or anyone who fancies a spot of steak in the area, which might explain why it’s always busy (quite something considering its size). The menu has something for everyone, though this ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ approach might turn off carnivorous connoisseurs. It’s also difficult to shake the fact that the money you spend here could be better used at one of the city’s slicker steakhouses. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai (04 368 6040).
The Observatory Perched high on the 52nd floor of the Marriott Harbour Hotel is one of Dubai’s best-kept dining secrets for an affordable meal. It can be a bit tricky to get to, but persevere. Interiors embrace mood lighting as though Marvin Gaye is about to walk in at any point, with the intimate setting complemented with glassy views of Sheikh Zayed Road and Dubai Marina below; all laid out like a slick game, complete with tiny motorised cars and flashing lights. The Observatory has a small menu that includes a lot of variety – grills, steak, fish, pasta and more – and you can enjoy a satisfying dinner there for under Dhs250 (with a glass of vino to boot!). For its outstanding service, quality of food and memorable setting, The Observatory offers unbeatable value. Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites, Dubai Marina, Dubai (04 319 4000).
Toshi This Asian fusion restaurant is on a mission to master every cuisine from China to Thailand. While the majority of restaurants in this city manage to fail such an ambitious task, Toshi get its right – especially if the crowds are anything to go by. On weeknights it hosts themed spreads and on our last visit, the place was heaving brunch-style, Thursday night offers an all-you-can-eat Thai buffet for an a very affordable Dhs215 (including drinks). Options for the à la carte menu are plentiful too. Whether you’re after sashimi, wok-fried king crab, Thai beef-style salad, wagyu beef strips or deep-fried ice cream, there is something for everything and it’s all totally edible, without being overpriced. Grand Millennium Dubai, TECOM, Dubai (04 429 9999).
Traiteur This French stalwart in the beautiful Park Hyatt hotel by Dubai Creek boasts an eye-catching venue, with high ceilings and plenty of natural light pouring through the large windows looking out to the water. Traditional and tasty French classics are lovingly prepared in the open kitchen (which guests can peruse during the renowned Friday brunch) and ferried to tables by polite, attentive staff. The snails, dripping in rich, warm garlic butter are the best you’re likely to have in Dubai, while dishes such as foie gras creme brulee, squash risotto, shaved truffles and cheese, and beef fillet with apple and sarawak pepper are highly recommended. Traiteur’s winning formula has, happily, remained the same for years, and we can only hope it remains untouched for many more. Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira, Dubai (04 317 2222).
Vu’s Perched in the upper echelons of the iconic Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Vu’s, as the name suggests, offers fantastic views of Downtown Dubai and the Sheik Zayed Road. Turn your attentions to the interior and you’ll find minimalist, chic furnishings and a menu boasting innovative takes on European cuisine, from skate to beef brisket to venison carpaccio to guinea fowl. However, the more casual diner would do well to look out for the regular set menu promotions, as well as the affordable lunch deals. It’s easy to forget that Vu’s, in comparison to the slew of restaurants that have opened in the past year, is one of Dubai’s older restaurants. However, like many of the premium grapes it stocks, it seems to be getting better with age. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai (04 319 8088).
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Arti Nanda Nov 27, 2012 07:11 am
Tried this outlet last weekend with visiting family. Felt it is a let down after all the hype created, especially mentioning it under 'food with a view'. We went for dinner and had to stand next to the window for any view, if you are sitting at your table (which was near the window as we requested) you had to actually crane your neck for any view mainly coz its a window set up rather than 1 uninterupted glass. I had clearly mentioned at the time of booking that we were celebrating a B'Day that evening, however let alone offering a piece of cake for the B'day boy, no one even enquired about it though we say that they did bring a small piece of cake and sang for another table. The menu was very restrictive - 2 to 3 appetisirs and 4-5 main courses to choose from, and absolutely no cocktail menu, though they did get Pina Colada and LIIT when requested. All in all I expected much more and had I know whould have planned somewhere else especially as we were celebrating a special day!
madhav Jun 23, 2012 04:29 pm
i am really interesting to learn about the restaurent