The Ivy Official opening date: June 9 Location:Jumeirah Emirates Towers Head Chef: Simon Conboy Anyone with a remote interest in fine dining in Dubai will have known for a while that hip Soho haunt The Ivy is opening at Emirates Towers, in the space formerly occupied by Scarlett’s. Caprice Holdings, the company responsible for bringing Hoxton’s Rivington Grill to Souk Al Bahar, is behind the project, and promises to uphold the traditions of the original London restaurant, as well as tailor the menu to regional tastes. ‘The Ivy Dubai’s menu will reflect the traditionalism of the alma mater, but will take into account local ingredients, seasonality and regional inspiration,’ says Colin Clague, executive chef of Caprice Holdings. ‘In Dubai, we have easy access to both northern and southern hemispheres, and are able to source the best seasonal products relevant to our seasons here. In summer in Dubai, for example, we have adapted the menu to offer some light daily specials – salads, carpaccios and fish dishes. We’ve also developed a broad bean-style houmous to be served with crudités, and a home-made harissa, which will accompany a tuna steak, to mention but a few dishes.’
There is a question of how much freedom will be given to Chef Simon Conboy, formerly of Le Deuxième in Covent Garden in London, to innovate with The Ivy’s long-standing menu. While Simon was unavailable to comment himself, Clague assures us that Conboy, with the assistance of group chef director Tim Hughes and The Ivy London head chef Gary Lee, has developed new recipes for The Ivy Dubai’s menu. However, Clague is keen to reiterate that the point of bringing The Ivy to Dubai is to offer diners here a restaurant experience that’s stimulating and true to the original. ‘There is certainly scope for creativity, but it’s also important to remain true to our roots. Our menus are accessible and appealing to a wide array of people from different cultures and countries,’ he explains.
While this may be true, one suspects that the appeal of The Ivy in Dubai will primarily be its name and the notion of celebrity attached. In London, The Ivy is an institution that is visited as much for its food as for its reputation as a meeting place for celebrities and socialites. While famous staples such as the shepherd’s pie can be replicated, we’ll have to wait to see whether they can duplicate that buzzing atmosphere.
Where it all began 1-5 West Street, London WC2H 9NQ, www.the-ivy.co.uk (+44 20 7836 4751).
Hakkasan Official opening date: November 2011 Location:Jumeirah Emirates Towers Chef de Cuisine: Pang Pin Lee Alan Yau, the restaurateur responsible for bequeathing Wagamamas unto the world, made dim sum a dinnertime favourite with cosmopolitan Londoners when he opened his first Hakkasan restaurant in Hanway Place in 2001. Yau has since sold his majority share in his Michelin-starred brainchild to Abu Dhabi company Tasameem, which explains in part why the restaurant opened in the capital early last year. In this respect, Hakkasan is already a tried-and-tested product in the UAE and Tasameem will be hoping the Dubai venue can replicate the success of Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, which was named Best New Restaurant in the 2011 Time Out Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards.
‘We hate the word “chain”,’ says Tasameen chief executive Niall Howard. ‘We will limit the amount of Hakkasans, and each will be slightly different. We believe if we are careful with that, we will maintain the brand to the levels people demand.’
With two restaurants in London and venues in Miami, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi, plus scheduled openings in Dubai, New York, Paris and Shanghai, the dreaded ‘chain’ word will become difficult to avoid. Yet if Abu Dhabi’s Hakkasan is anything to go by, the rapid expansion of the brand is by no means a bad thing. While many aspects of the decor and menu will be the same as in Abu Dhabi, Howard promises that the lounge area in Dubai will boast a certain opulence (should we be surprised?) that is different to any other Hakkasan. ‘It will be spectacular and unique. The outdoor terrace will be [another] spectacular feature.’
Come autumn this year, we can judge for ourselves just how spectacular the latest instalment of this high-end restaurant chain (sorry, ‘franchise’) is.
Royal China Official opening date: Now open Location: DIFC Head chef: Chef Wong With a few months’ head start on Hakkasan, similarly themed but lesser-known contemporary Chinese restaurant Royal China has recently been unveiled in DIFC. At time of writing the restaurant has yet to secure its alcohol licence, but this, we’re told, will only take a matter of time.
While Royal China Dubai will follow the same format as its predecessors in London (Baker Street, Bayswater, Fulham, Canary Wharf and Harrow on the Hill), Singapore and Shanghai, Chef Wong will have some scope for innovation. ‘In all Royal China restaurants, we serve signature dishes such as dim sum, lobster noodles with ginger and spring onion, and, of course, our trademark aromatic crispy duck. We always feature our collection of Hong Kong-style dishes too,’ says Wong. ‘However each restaurant is allowed to showcase a section featuring the “chef’s recommendations” – this is where the chef of each restaurant demonstrates his individual skill and expresses his character through his cooking. This is the particular section in which we continuously innovate and push our own personal culinary boundaries.
The Dubai restaurant will, of course, have a unique selection of chef’s specialities not available elsewhere.’
Royal China’s original opening in Dubai was delayed and Chef Wong has spoken of difficulties finding good and reliable suppliers. He is, however, now satisfied with his Hong Kong-based supplier, meaning he has a few months to win over Dubai’s Sinophiles before the opening of nearby Hakkasan.
Where it all began 13 Queensway, London W2 4QJ (+44 207 221 2535).
Also look out for…
Gaucho This London steakhouse, which made its name importing and serving top-notch Argentine steaks, has already staked (no pun intended) a prime position in Dubai at DIFC. Though the signage of the restaurant is visible, our insiders tell us that the interior is still a building site, so we’re guessing Gaucho will be opening its doors in early 2012. When it does open, it will be nestled alongside esteemed imports La Petite Maison (Nice, France) and Zuma (London, UK), though will face stiff competition from the new-look Rib Room in nearby Jumeirah Emirates Towers, not to mention the plethora of other high-end steakhouses in Dubai. www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk
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Jordy Jul 31, 2011 12:32 pm
I have eaten on many occasions in The Ivy London and I was worried that the Ivy Dubai would be a poor copy and only playing on the name to attract clients. I was happily surprised to find that this was not the case. I tried two of the London signature dishes of Kedgeree followed by Sheppard’s Pie. Both were excellent but not exactly the same as London. The Kedgeree sauce needed to be a little richer and the meat base of the pie needed to have a slightly fuller flavour. However, these were very small criticisms of what was an excellent meal. Pudding was a classic Ivy jelly with an amazing mint sorbet. My dining partner, having never been to the London restaurant, thought that the menu, quality of the dishes, service and price were excellent. Both of us will be regular diners of this truly valuable addition to the Dubai restaurant scene. I think The Ivy ranks as one of the best restaurants around and you should really try it.
azzal chotani Jun 22, 2011 08:26 am
Nadia Jun 16, 2011 06:21 am
We have enjoyed a great lunch. Food is great and the service was excellent. Very friendly and professional and attentive to the smallest details.