Last year it seemed that British eating in Dubai had hit a wall. Rhodes Mezzanine (Time Out Dubai’s inaugural winner of the best British restaurant category) quietly closed its doors and gastro pub The Wharf shut up shop (and turned into a Mexican concept). Then, it was revealed, a 300 year-old English concept would be launching in Dubai, chef Gary Rhodes was planning something yet more British for that empty space in the Grosvenor House Dubai and English celebrity chef Jason Atherton was coming too. And suddenly 2014 is becoming the year of the British gastro pub. British food is taking on a new, revitalised (and largely celebrity chef- backed) character. Here are the latest and impending additions to the scene.
D&A Formerly the Dhow & Anchor, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel closed this longstanding watering hole, reopening a (not entirely new) but updated vision of British pub dining. And an excellent decision it proved to be, bringing to Dubai the 21st century spirit of the ‘gastropub’. The new D&A retains an accessible and laid-back ambience, but serving interesting, modern British-inspired plates, such as duck leg Wellington with truffle bubble and squeak and chicken parfait with pear compote. D&A is also now currently the only ‘original to Dubai’ gastropub concept open. Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim (04 406 8999).
Fortnum & Mason Dating back to 1707, London’s Fortnum & Mason has been serving up gourmet groceries, house blends of tea and coffee, as well as an afternoon and high tea in the salon upstairs. In Dubai, the British institution opened its first ever international branch earlier this year, following a similar model. Premium teas, preserves and confectionary are all sold on the chichi ground floor retail space, while upstairs you’ll find a tea salon serving finger sandwiches, scones and some decidedly British cakes (from raspberry Charlotte, to Battenberg). There is also an ice-cream parlour on the top floor, serving cold treats made to traditional English methods. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, next to The Address Hotel Downtown and The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 388 2627).
Geales An import from London’s upmarket neighbourhoods of Chelsea and Notting Hill, this seafood-themed gastropub has recently opened in Dubai Marina. In addition to a seafood focussed à la carte list that spans fish and chips to lobster burgers, the concept has a market-style fish counter displaying scallops, lobster, turbot, sole, sea bream and more, weighed and prepared to your taste. Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina (04 316 5550).
Reform Social & Grill The first in the emirate’s recent spree of British gastropubs to open its doors (in late 2013), the original Reform Social & Grill is located in London’s Marylebone. Here in Dubai, this eatery offers a menu of English-inspired recipes, with a strong selection of smoked fish, as well as British cheeses and beef cuts cooked on a (actually Spanish) charcoal josper grill. The are additional twists to the restaurant’s repertoire such as an ice-cream parlour, afternoon tea and Friday brunch and promotional menus. The Lakes, Emirates Living. (04 454 2638).
The Scene New British eatery The Scene is due to open in July, inside Pier 7, Dubai Marina, headed up by English TV chef Simon Rimmer. Aiming for an urban design, with a bar and dining ambience, the new venue boasts some quirky reworks of traditional dishes on the menu including juniper-beverage cured salmon with soda bread, plus fish and chips, roast chicken and shepherd’s pie.
Rhodes W1 Following the closure of chef Gary Rhodes’ modern British concept Rhodes Mezzanine, a brand new venture, Rhodes W1 is due to open in the Grosvenor House Dubai in September 2014. At the last count, chef Gary had something ‘more British’ and more accessible planned for the new restaurant, including an outdoor bar on the terrace and a specials menu of new British classics, featuring a variety of much-loved UK dishes, made popular by the island’s immigrant communities.
Jason Atherton Michelin-starred English chef Jason Atherton, who famously made his name in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchens (including Dubai’s Verre back in 2001), is due to launch his first Dubai venture. Currently predicted to open in the last quarter of 2014, the new restaurant will open in the equally new InterContinental Dubai Marina.