Where to munch some fromage, with optional grape on the side
Time Out Dubai staff
It is not just the French who know that cheese and grape beverages are a winning combination. Dubai has long been on the same wavelength, with a host of evening deals offering a taste of cheeses and vintages from across the world. Illustrating the popularity of cheese nights in Dubai, Oeno tells us an average Wednesday night involves as much as 25kg of the stuff being consumed. And the nights just keep on coming too, with new grape bars such as Stage 2, The Grape Escape and Cave making sure that cheese figures mightily high in among their repertoires. So who does cheese best around town? We eat our way through slices, blocks and wheels of the stuff to find out.
Arcadia at H Hotel This end-of-the-week cheese night gets booked up fast and it’s not surprising, considering it has a selection of more than 25 varieties of cheeses and free-flowing grape from Italy, France and Chile. The cheeses include soft, hard and blue and are nicely presented alongside chutneys, nuts and fruit. There’s also a special cheese fondue served with white and brown bread for those looking to get extra fancy. The crowd is young and friendly and live guitar tunes keep the mood relaxed and jovial.
4/5 Dhs149. 7pm-10pm. Ongoing. The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 501 8888).
Ossiano Bar Yes, it serves cheese, but it’s hardly an event. The restaurant is stunning with its huge aquarium and ocean-themed décor, but the ‘cheese night’ seems to be an add-on for diners rather than an attraction in its own right. The standard offering gives you a plate of two small pieces of three kinds of cheese – we were offered a soft brie, a goat’s cheese and a stilton accompanied by figs, a beetroot jam that tasted distinctly of strawberry and crisp breads. Service on a quiet night was slow. It took 45 minutes for everything to arrive.
2/5 Dhs75 for plate of three cheeses, Dhs150 for plate of six cheeses. Daily 7pm-midnight. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Oeno One of the bar’s busiest nights, this weekly event sees couples and big groups turn out in force and pay on the door. While the live band plays chart and familiar hits, revellers tuck into a selection of not particularly adventurous cheeses such as edam, emmental and cheddar, accompanied by a few unusual sides – roasted green and red peppers and cubes of roasted parsnips. Accompanying the grazing opportunities is an enormous grape beverage selection, with reds and whites lined up along the bar as well as bottles of Italian bubbles placed around the room, which guests can help themselves to.
4/5 Dhs195. Wed 8pm-11pm. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi, Al Sufouh Road (04 511 7136).
Plantation Lounge A buffet of French cheeses attractively presented in the cool colonial style of a Plantation restaurant. It was quiet on the night we attended, but the resident DJ plays laid-back house to liven up the evening. Diners enjoy a selection of beautifully presented canapés as well as the cheese. There are over 20 soft and hard cheeses available to try, and the majority are soft and strong-flavoured. The only letdown is not all the cheeses are labelled. Also on offer are artisan breads, chutneys and nuts. The silver package offers four reds and four whites to try. Service is laid-back and friendly.
4/5 Dhs180 per person for silver package – unlimited cheese and standard beverages. Dhs250 premium package. Wed 7pm-11pm. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence (04 448 4848).
Stage 2 Expect a whole variety of fine cheeses – hard, soft, blue and goat’s here – all attractively laid out together with various crackers, crisp breads, quiches, grapes and chutneys. Guests simply pick up a cheese board and help themselves and are free to make as many return visits as they please. A choice of three strikingly different red grapes, from Argentina, France and Australia, completes the evening, all within the elegant, tastefully considered surrounds of the Vida hotel lobby. The place quickly fills up, so you’ll definitely need to book ahead.
4/5 Dhs125 per person including three house beverages. Wed 6pm-9pm. Vida Downtown Dubai, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, www.vida-hotels.com (04 428 5923).
Vintage A relatively low-key affair, this cheese night in Oud Metha attracts a more mature crowd than many others. Perfect for a long overdue catch-up, with no boisterous patrons or live bands, incredibly friendly staff keenly explain the offer and cheese selection (there is only one red and one white grape beverage to choose between). Once guests have piled their plates high with wedges of stilton, slabs of creamy tallegio and chunks of gouda among others, there are cured meats to pick through, fruits (fresh and dried) and a selection of pickles. Curiously, there are also deep-fried onion rings on offer. Overall, while the selection is small, it’s diverse, well thought-out and satisfying.
Café M This unpretentious and buzzy little spot in the lobby of the Media One Hotel serves a wide selection of cold cheeses, crackers and bread as part of a buffet, allowing you to merrily gorge on dairy until your heart’s content. The feast is cemented by the intermittent delivery of fried cheese, followed by the arrival of fondue – so essentially – there’s a lot of cheese. In terms of drinks, there’s a wide enough selection to suit most palates, whether you’re a full-bodied connoisseur or more of a light and fruity drinker. For refills, it’s a self-service affair and we’re impressed with the staff member who explains the different qualities of each selection, allowing you to make an informed choice.
4/5 Dhs164 per person. Tue-Thu, 6pm-10pm. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City, www.mediaonehotel.com (04 427 1000).
The Ivy Despite The Ivy’s glam reputation, this is a fairly laidback affair, taking place in the bar and attracting an after-work crowd. Service is first-class; fast, friendly and staff certainly know their stuff when it comes to pairing cheese and grape. The platter of eight cheeses contains choices from all over the globe; think delicious stilton, Spanish manchego and truffle brillat-savarin, and is accompanied by a packed platter of cured meats, nuts, dried fruit and fresh bread. The grape selection, which had an Australian focus on the night we visited, complements the cheese perfectly and we like that the whole thing ends with a glass of fortified grape.
5/5 Dhs175 (A flight of eight glasses of grape, paired with cheese and cured meats) Dhs275 (unlimited grape, cheese and cured meats). Wednesday 7pm-9pm, The Ivy, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, www.theivy.ae (04 319 8767).
Cave Expect a daily changing selection of cheese and charcuterie boards to be available, in addition to more than 500 varieties of grape. Prices on consumption. Daily noon-2am. Conrad Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 444 7111).
Oscar’s Vine Society Serves an unlimited selection of cheese and cold cuts all available at the buffet. The grape bar also specialises in this beverage and has a number of varieties to try. Dhs99 per person (unlimited cheese, grape priced on consumption). Tue and Fri 6pm-11pm. Crowne Plaza Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 276 963).