DIFC’s new pub could only have been more aptly named if the team had instead plumped for Jekyll & (Run And) Hyde. For while in its capacity as a bar this contemporary space is perfectly pleasant, the food is, like the good doctor’s alter ego, positively monstrous.
Set in the space that briefly housed the short-lived, speakeasy-inspired restaurant and bar R Trader, the stylish, comfortable setting suggests nothing of the culinary horrors that await. Service, too, is swift and smiley, with staff keen to highlight the (actually rather good) happy hour offer that runs throughout the day. As a result, drinks are some of the most reasonable in the area, and the venue lives up to the “friendly pub” promise of its website.
Jekyll & Hyde absolutely has some endearing qualities, but it’s hard not to choke, eyes bulging, on its claim to be “the home of proper pub grub”.
It all begins innocuously enough, with an order of average but largely inoffensive bubble and squeak fritters, lacking enough of any ingredients other than potato to really justify the name, but the sort of savoury stodge we’d hardly object to if it appeared halfway through happy hour.
Across the table, our dining companion half-heartedly smears a bland, sixty-three-dirham portion of liver pâté across acrid, burnt toast.
As our stomachs growl louder and our expectations begin to dwindle, the mains arrive. How we wish they hadn’t.
A mushroom and goat’s cheese pie (the latter ingredient notable only for its apparent absence) feels like an oily, slimey, flavourless slap in the face. Perhaps the fish and chips, from the “pub grub classics” section (a speciality, surely) will fare better.
It is indeed a pièce de résistance – in the sense that we feel you should absolutely resist it.
Pungent, overcooked fish sits encased in batter so pale and flabby it looks more like a British holidaymaker than a British classic, while the chips by contrast manage an almost incinerated exterior yet remain utterly undercooked within. At a whopping Dhs109, the dish is almost a quarter of the price of the hour of therapy we leave feeling we’re going to need to get over it.
And that surely can’t be what the good doctor ordered.
The Bill (for two) 1x bubble & squeak fritters Dhs41 1x liver pate Dhs63 1x mushroom & goat's cheese pie Dhs89 1x fish & chips Dhs109 2x soft drinks Dhs32 Total (excl service) Dhs334
The bottom line Smart setting, terrible cooking.
Jekyll & Hyde