Celeb chefs and local culinary heroes on where they REALLY dine
When chefs eat out, they must be among the hardest to please. So what about Dubai’s top culinary purveyors? From fine dining to takeaways and even cappuccinos, we’ve grilled some of the most well-known chefs in the city to find out where they dine (without naming their own eateries); from Michelin superstars such as Nobu Matsuhisa, Jeff Galvin and Atul Kochhar, to TV favourites Eric Lanlard, Silvena Rowe and George Calombaris, plus Time Out Dubai’s own top two young chefs of 2013 – Anup Pawar and Luke Wonnacott.
Anup Pawar Indian, speciality sous chef at The Address Downtown Dubai
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Anup? Green Chillies and Green Leaves in Discovery Gardens: both easily accessible, quick service; it is one of my favourite eateries. Also Bu Qtair is the ultimate for fresh seafood.
Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? There is a quaint seafood restaurant in Mumbai, India, called Trishna. It uses the best crabs, which are flown in daily from Kerala.
Atul Kochhar Indian, Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai? At.Mosphere in Armani Hotel for its brilliant food. I love the Australian free range salt bush lamb there. In terms of funky places, I like La Petite Maison; I come to Dubai five or six times a year, and as a ritual, I would go there at least once a year. I recently started going to Okku, more for ambience, than the food, I’ll be honest. For my Indian fix, I like Calicut Paragon in Karama, the South Indian flavours are so pure there it just takes me back in time.
Chris Driver English, head chef, Alfie’s by Dunhill Favourite Dubai restaurant? Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire at InterContinental Festival City.
Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? Chez Bruce in Wandsworth Common in London. The service and food quality is always consistent and it’s good value for money. Describe your worst experience in a restaurant: It was at a very high-profile restaurant in New York. From start to end the service and the food were very, very poor considering the amount of money we paid. I left feeling very disappointed. Being a chef, feedback is always valuable to help improve the cuisine and services offered. I provided my thoughts online, however it was promptly removed and no reply was ever sent back in return. As a result I probably wouldn’t return.
Eric Lanlard French, celebrity patisserie chef Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Eric? I used to stay at The One&Only Royal Mirage so I ate there. Also, at Grosvenor House Dubai. I like the Gary Rhodes restaurant Rhodes Mezzanine. During this visit, I ate at The Supperclub, which was good as well. Last time I was in Dubai, I stayed at Atlantis The Palm, as it had just opened. I’ve eaten at Nobu there and there’s so much choice. I love Nobu; I’ve eaten at Nobus all over the world and it’s the same everywhere. The consistency with the food is really unbelievable.
Francisco Araya Chilean, director of school, SCAFA
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai? La Petite Maison; great food, service and presentation. Zuma; I love the food and relaxed ambiance. Zheng He’s serves the best duck in town. Aappa Kadai, the original branch in Karama – the appams are amazing, they must have a secret ingredient because I’ve never tasted better! Aroos Damascus in Deira for great Syrian comfort food. And BiCE for the mushroom ravioli – it is bursting with flavour.
Best coffee in Dubai? Definitely Rostang, its brew is of exceptional quality and served in proper cups.
Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? Chez Wong (by acclaimed chef Javier Wong) in Lima, Peru. It serves authentic Peruvian cuisine including the best ceviche in town.
Describe your worst experience in a restaurant: It was totally unexpected at a lovely place! I ordered French onion soup next to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was terrible and so was the service. I complained and left with the intention to never go back.
George Calombaris Australian, Masterchef Australia judge and Melbourne restaurateur
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, George? In Dubai, I’ve tried all the ‘named’ restaurants. Last time I was here I went to At.Mosphere on top of the Burj Khalifa. Amazing views. It’s a must to go and sit at the bar there and have a drink. I love going to Chef’s Ali’s Levantine at Atlantis The Palm. I’ve heard about this fish place across from the Burj Al Arab, which I want to go and try [Bu Qtair].
Jeff Galvin British, chef patron at Galvin Restaurants, Galvin La Chapelle, London Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Jeff? La Petite Maison and Zuma, both are beautiful restaurants with an incredible atmosphere. The cooking is of a very high standard with great service. I have the carpaccio of scallops and the grilled veal chop at La Petite Maison and in Zuma, the black cod and the spicy beef with sesame. Best coffee in Dubai? The coffee and bread at Armani/Peck is the best I have had. Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? L’ Oustaù de Baumanière, Les Baux de Provence, France. It has an incredible setting in the hills of Provence, together with some of the best food and service that I have ever experienced.
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Lorraine? Ravi’s for Pakistani food and Dapoer Kita for Indonesian, both located in Karama. I love to visit them.
Favourite Dubai restaurant? The Ivy. I really enjoy the general ambience, efficient service and the food. I especially like to try the seared scallops.
Describe your worst experience in a restaurant: It was years back at a steakhouse in London. I ordered a medium rare steak and was given something that could bounce off the walls, in all honesty. I asked the server if I could meet the chef as I had a tip for him. When the chef appeared, he was clearly disappointed as he was expecting a cash tip and certainly not the advice that I gave him – which was that he should take up another profession.
Marta Yanci Spanish, owner and founder of Marta’s Kitchen
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Marta? For family meals, Carluccio’s. The staff there are extremely friendly, the food is tasty and healthy and they have the best lemon tart ever. I am a big fan of Vietnamese food and Voi at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray finds the perfect balance between traditional Vietnamese food and refined French cuisine. If I want a romantic dinner with my husband I choose Rhodes Mezzanine. It surprises me every time, and I feel that I learn every time I go, which is inspiring.
Describe your worst experience in a restaurant: It was at a very well-known restaurant with my husband for our wedding anniversary. We ordered the tasting menu and the whole experience was a disaster. The fish was overcooked and dry – the list goes on. We actually left before finishing, but I spoke with the manager in a nice way and she really appreciated the feedback.
Musabbeh Al Kaabi Emirati, executive Oriental chef, Jumeirah
Zabeel Saray Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai? I visit Lemongrass restaurant regularly, as well as Latitude and Beachcombers at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I love Latitude because it is a huge place with a choice of many cuisines, and Beachcombers has views overlooking the Burj Al Arab.
Best coffee in Dubai? You’ll find the best ever local Arabic coffee you can drink in Dubai World Trade Center.
Nick Alvis English, chef patron, Table 9 by Nick and Scott
Favourite Dubai restaurant? Bussola at The Westin is very chilled out, I often go during the cooler months for a pizza and to be able to sit outdoors. It’s a great spot.
Describe your worst experience in a restaurant: We went to a very well-respected chef’s restaurant and we were very disappointed with the whole experience. We didn’t complain as it was a little embarrassing to be honest. We asked for the bill before dessert, paid a lot of money and left. I don’t think they even noticed our disappointment. For me, that is bad service.
Nobu Matsuhisa Japanese, Nobu Dubai
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Nobu? When I’m here, my head chef at Nobu Dubai chooses restaurants for us to visit. We’ve been to 101 at the One&Only. Last time we went to TOMO, which is more traditional Japanese, in terms of the presentation, the service, and the food.
Paul Frangie Dutch, chef and model
Who makes the best coffee in Dubai? Raw Coffee is by far the best coffee!
What is your favourite restaurant outside the UAE? For fast food, I like the chain Chipotle. My favourite restaurant is Nopi in Soho, London.
Describe you worst experience in a restaurant: In Dubai I ordered a mixed grill at a popular restaurant. The meat had been re-heated and was obviously not freshly grilled, it was very dry and a bit burnt from the re-heating. I complained and sent it back because I had eaten much better food at this restaurant before. When they brought my ‘new’ dish it was exactly the same meat I sent back in the first place! Needless to say I didn’t eat it.
Scott Price English, chef patron, Table 9 by Nick and Scott
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Scott? When I have friends and family over I always end up at the Rivington Grill. They have a great team, are very consistent and always look after us.
Favourite Dubai restaurant? I like the relaxed tapas menu at Al Hambra at Al Qasr and also Zuma.
Best coffee in Dubai? Raw Coffee, no question. Their dedication and love for their craft is inspiring.
Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? At the moment it would be either be The Ledbury in London or L’enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria. Both are very forward-thinking but with classic roots.
Silvena Rowe Bulgarian-Turkish-British, celebrity chef and consultant chef at The H Hotel Dubai
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Silvena? Al Fresco is an unusual suspect, but is the best Italian cuisine in town and has been going for years. Also Hakkasan: the food is crisp, clean and just so exciting.
Favourite Dubai restaurant? Calicut Paragon: it’s rugged, rustic, authentic, real Keralan food. A must-try is the fresh crab curry made with the local catch of the day, and the appams, which are delectable.
Tomas Reger Czech, chef consultant and pop-up chef
Favourite Dubai restaurant? It must be Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire, not just for the food, but also for the amazing service. It is hard for my wife and I to completely relax in a restaurant, because we both work in hospitality, but in Reflets we always can. It is also one of the few restaurants that keeps innovating and reinventing their menu.
Best coffee in Dubai? Raw Coffee, without a doubt, also because of the overall feel of their roastery in Al Quoz.
Favourite restaurant outside the UAE? Koya on Frith Street in London. It is an authentic Japanese ramen shop with a blackboard menu that keeps constantly changing.
Uwe Micheel German, director of kitchens at Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek
Which restaurants do you visit in Dubai, Uwe? Cactus Jack, it is just around the corner from our home, and has good food, a very friendly team and is good value for money. We always have the mixed starter plate and spare ribs.
Favourite Dubai restaurant? Table 9 by Nick and Scott. Great ingredients, cooked to perfection, and nice flavours.
Best coffee in Dubai? I am a cappuccino man and Costa’s is still the best for me.
Jeff Galvin British, chef patron, Galvin Restaurants How often do you order takeaway? Normally when we don’t have time to cook or don’t have shopping in, but not too often though.
What’s the last takeaway you ordered? A Chinese set meal for eight after some friends arrived unexpectedly.
What is your fast food guilty pleasure? A McDonald’s drive thru with my children, but only once or twice a year.
Luke Wonnacott South African, chef de cuisine at Ossiano How often do you order takeaway? Hardly ever.
What’s the last takeaway you ordered? Burger King in Vietnam. After a while eating all the local food I was just craving a cheeseburger.
What is your junk food guilty pleasure? A hot dog with mustard and ketchup.
Maxime Luvara French, executive chef, Burj Al Arab How often do you order takeaway? Two to three times a month.
What’s the last takeaway you ordered? I ordered very good noodles from the Noodle House. What is your fast food guilty pleasure? Having kids means that you cannot avoid ordering takeaways. I tried a burger from Fat Burger on Jumeirah Beach Road and I must say it was good. It was cooked à la minute, with juicy meat – perfect!
Chef recommendations direct to your phone
Where Chefs Eat An electronic version of the 700-page ultimate guide to where to eat across the globe, as recommended by the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Daniel Boulud and René Redzepi. www.wherechefseat.com.
Chefs Feed Currently focused on North America and London, the app offers recommendations from more than 700 chefs including the legendary Thomas Keller. You can even follow your favourite chefs for updated recommendations. www.chefsfeed.com.
Find.Eat.Drink While this app operates similarly, with personal recommendations from chefs, it goes a little further to include information from bartenders, sommeliers and more. www.findeatdrink.com