Classic cuisine and fresh flair go hand in hand here
Time Out Dubai staff
Winner – Best European Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014 The Ivy Famous first and foremost for its sister venue in London’s Soho (frequented by the city’s celebrated), Dubai’s The Ivy might not look like much from the outside. Once you’re in the door, though, the restaurant space expands and unfolds like a Tardis of charm. You’ll find moodily lit, darkened wood panelling and stained glass features, while regular live jazz adds to a deliciously vintage vision of Britain. Service rides a perfect wave between ultra-efficient and polite, with an expertly appropriate sense of informal warmth. It is, in fact, some of the most skilled and personable service we’ve experienced in Dubai. While we’ve noted a few bizarrely out of place additions to the menu this year (Sri Lankan lamb curry is one example), the menu is still largely characterised by a classic, sophisticated combination of French and British dishes, prepared with creativity and skill. The Ivy also offers a particularly expert line in traditional English meats, including lesser-served calves’ liver. Open Sun-Wed 8am-11pm, Fri 9am-11.30, Sat 9am-11pm. The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.theivy.ae (04 319 8767).
Highly Commended - Best European Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
101 Dining and Lounge Bar Located on the very tip of the Palm’s outer crescent, and sitting on its own private jetty, 101 Dining and Lounge Bar offers stunning views of the Marina beyond. Inside what appears to be a giant marquee, you’ll find cooling tones combined with the beauty of nature in organically shaped slabs of tree trunk and coral motifs in silver. While service wasn’t quite as exceptionally sparkling as our visit last year, staff at 101 continue to display efficiency, a willingness to oblige and a comprehensive understanding of the menu. Within the modern and unfussy one-page menu, you’ll find an overarching Mediterranean theme, with many a nod to Spanish cooking, such as the caramel sweet high-quality beef Iberico starter, paellas and dishes prepared on a josper grill. Presentation is clean and uncluttered, while dishes are prepared with sophisticated simplicity, making for an excellent dining experience. Open Daily 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-11pm. One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1030).
Highly Commended - Best European Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
Rivington Grill Winging their way over from the mean streets of London’s Shoreditch, both of Dubai’s Rivington Grill branches occupy enviable locations in restaurant hotspots Madinat Jumeirah and Souk Al Bahar. At each venue, you’ll find a sleek, simple and modern setting, adorned minimally with grattifi-esque neon signs and a bustling open kitchen adding to the ambiance. Yet in both cases, the terrace areas are the real draw, with views of Dubai’s most atmospheric water features on offer (the Madinat waterways and Dubai Fountain). Service tends to be decent and efficient, neither slack nor exceptional, but perhaps lacking the more confident tone of competitors. Food-wise, Rivington Grill stays true to a clean and simple view of modern British gastro-pub cooking, with the region’s ingredients (Devonshire crab, Kentish cob nuts, English stilton) and most notable favourites (fish and chips, beef Wellington, sticky toffee pudding) represented in a rustic and unfussy style. Open Sat-Wed noon-11pm, Thu & Fri noon-11.30pm. Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Sequim, www.rivingtongrill.ae (04 366 6464).
Alfie's This British restaurant has a gentlemen’s club ambiance, complete with leather armchairs, a plethora of vintage caricatures across the walls depicting ‘The British Character’ and a video above the bar displaying the finer points of gentlemen’s tailoring. The rest of the space has a masculine but sleekly New York brassiere vibe. Service tends to be welcoming and helpful, and makes the experience well pieced together and pleasurable. While the New York brassiere vibe continues on the menu, with gourmet burgers, salt beef sandwiches and more, there is a strong tone of elevated but uncomplicated British food. Items to try include the gourmet burger, in which the mince is mixed with bone marrow for a truly sumptuous and juicy patty, matched with perfect triple-cooked chips. Finish with a playful Jaffa Cake-inspired dessert; much more elegant than it sounds, it’s a textural and intensely orangey, rich chocolate mousse. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 319 8088).
Al Hambra Al Hambra is one of the few traditional Spanish restaurants in the city serving an array of authentic dishes such as tapas, paella, mixed platters, grilled meats and churros. Overlooking the Burj Al Arab and the Madinat Jumeirah waterways, with abras peacefully drifting by, the setting will make you feel relaxed and at home, almost as if you’re living the stereotypical laidback Spanish lifestyle. The extensive tapas menu offers diners the chance to taste smaller portions of the various dishes on offer – the beef cheeks in particularly are a must-try. Curiously, the tapas dishes are slightly larger than you’d expect, but, as staff will enthusiastically explain, ‘this is Dubai!’ For those with a larger appetite, the paellas or grilled meat dishes will definitely fill you up. Everything about the restaurant – from the decor and live music to the friendly staff and, of course, the rustic, wholesome food – enhances the Spanish vibe, making this a genuine, albeit slightly overpriced, dining experience. Open Sat-Thu 6pm-11.30pm; Fri 12.30pm-4pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730).
Elia Since there’s a dearth of Greek food in Dubai, Elia is quite the hidden gem. Inside, cream coloured stone walls, azure blue and flashes of yellow mimic the sun and sea of the Mediterranean. There’s also an ambient indoor-outdoor terrace, encased in glass and surrounded by greenery beyond. The welcome is warm and service continues in the same easygoing, happy tone. Staff, while not over elaborate in their explanations, are still able to offer a little guidance on the menu. This is helpful, as the menu is two tiered, divided between Greek classics and inventions cooked up by chef Baxevannis (the Greek celebrity behind the restaurant). While some dishes may be deemed too heavy, or even greasy, others such as the crispy-skinned sea bass in a frothy egg and lemon sauce, teamed with creamy risotto, or doughy cheese pies doused with mandarin sauce, are honest and satisfying creations that are sure to please. Open daily 7pm-midnight. Majestic Hotel Tower, Al Mankhool Road (04 501 2690).
Kitchen 45 at Embassy Towering above the Grosvenor House’s mega-plex of a nightclub is Embassy’s dining room, Kitchen 45. The decor is dark, shiny and luxurious, with cosy booths to one side and huge Tamara de Lempicka prints hanging from the walls adding to the sultry mood. The menu is characterised by a broad sense of modern European cooking, with very good preparation in most cases. Try the plain and simple starter of locally smoked salmon, or the densely flavoured mushroom and black truffle risotto. Unfortunately, on our visit, the signature dish of rabbit ravioli with a foie gras sauce arrived pitch perfectly when served as an amuse bouche, but proved over salted when served as a starter. Nonetheless, service is of a good standard, efficient and obliging, but with a slightly cooler, more causal tone, in keeping with the nightspot ambiance downstairs. Open Tue, Wed & Sat 8pm-1.30am, Thu & Fri 8pm-2.30am. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 399 8888). Sat dinner deal, ‘Sinful Saturdays’: 8pm-1.30am, Dhs300 (with soft drinks), Dhs400 (with selected house beverages).
Picante Picante is one of the few, if not only (at the time of writing) Portuguese restaurants in the city. The place has a quaint European feel to it with a rustic, shabby-chic decor and an open-plan kitchen equipped with a stone oven where fresh homemade bread is made in-house – and it’s very good. The menu, which has a plethora of choices without being too overwhelming, has a section of dishes recommended by the chef as well as chef specials consisting of Portuguese classics such as amêijoas à bulhão pato (sautéed clams in olive oil with garlic, lemon and coriander), plus different types of meat served with the classic Portuguese piri piri sauce. Portion sizes are generous and priced reasonably for the size and quality of food served. It’s a pleasant enough restaurant with friendly staff and a good variety of what is an underrepresented cuisine in Dubai. Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight. Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai, Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, Bur Dubai, www.picantedubai.com (04 397 7444).
Seville’s Seville’s represents the old guard of Iberian dining in the Dubai. Part of the Wafi Pyramid complex of restaurants, it offers its share of ambient and green al fresco dining, including an outdoor bar area. Inside, the decor feels a little aged, yet not without charm. The menu is a reassuringly simple list of tapas, paella and main courses, covering all the classic notes, and diners can expect a complimentary basket of Catalan-style tomato bread (that packs a raw garlic punch) to be brought to the table. Service is friendly, fairly efficient and food arrives in good time. We’re not, however, impressed by the seafood, with the overcooked langoustine taking the brunt of our disappointment. Dishes on the tapas menu are also fairly ordinary and, sadly, there’s not quite enough to really win you over. Open Sat-Mon noon-1am, Tue-Fri noon-2am. Pyramids Wafi, Oud Metha (04 324 4777).
Table 9 by Darren Velvick Table 9 has been through numerous avatars, from Verre by Gordon Ramsay, to the two unknown chefs who went out on a limb to create their own concept, Nick and Scott. Now, in its latest incarnation, Table 9 at the Hilton Dubai Creek still breathes but with a new British chef at the helm, Darren Velvick, straight from the London kitchens of Michelin-awarded Marcus Wareing. Yet despite the third name above the door, it’s a disappointment to see the same ageing interior. Still, the talent and ideas of the new chef are really evident in some of his dishes, especially the scallop starter, where the fat little chunks of lime-marinated scallop have a wonderful acidic freshness without that creamy sweetness of the flesh disappearing, the accompanying creamy avocado and fresh apple with a mirroring dynamic to it. Sadly, other dishes sometimes fail to reach this standard. But with wonderfully warm staff and clear potential on the menu, this restaurant has the ability to rise up the ranks. Open daily 6.30pm-midnight. Hilton Dubai Creek, Deira, www.table9dubai.com (04 212 7551).