Dubai, we need to talk about halloumi fries. Specifically, Axe House’s, which should be renamed Happiness, Breadcrumbed. And they aren’t the only thing to like about JLT’s newest craft hops bar and restaurant.
While the die-hard trendiness of Shoreditch may be becoming something of a cliché among those all-too familiar with London’s East End, it’s a relative fringe theme here – and nothing compared to the ancient stereotypes peddled by many of Dubai’s “British-inspired” haunts. So if you’re more sick of the sight of the London Underground logo than one of the capital’s seasoned commuters, this place is well worth checking out.
Axe House is all about modern British dining. Which is much less about endless, beige piles of fish and chips, and much more about drawing inspiration from the nation’s celebrated multiculturalism.
And the menu reflects that. It’s broken into three main sections inspired by the markets of Billingsgate (seafood, from fish pie to Brick Lane tikka salmon), Columbia Road (veggie, from falafel flatbreads to faux sausage and mash) and Smithfield (meaty grills from Notting Hill jerk chicken to a “Donatella of kebabs”).
Before you get to those, however, don’t miss the chance to stuff a few starters in (ahem, halloumi fries), most generously proportioned among them the gargantuan beef short rib. Though it could do with a bit more seasoning on our visit, it’s a meal in its own right.
On to mains and the star of the show – a pile of chipotle-tinged chargrilled king prawns. Sweet and meaty, they’re streets from typical bar food, and excellent value at Dhs110.
Of the whole night, air hockey defeat aside (yes, there’s a games room), the only disappointment is the fairly dismal Axe Claw Daddy lobster roll, with its meagre, chewy offering of crustacean.
It’s not what we’d hoped for, but overall, Axe House is. Scruffily, quirkily British, and not a Tube map in sight.
The bill (for two) 1x halloumi fries Dhs40 1x beef short rib Dhs55 1x Axe Claw Daddy Dhs120 1x chargrilled king prawns Dhs110 1x apple crumble Dhs40 1x large water Dhs25 Total (incl service) Dhs390