A few steps in and we’re greeted by huge terracotta vats filled to the brim with some of the freshest-looking olives in the city. The temptation to grab a fork and dive in is one we have to force ourselves to resist, no matter how loudly the olives scream “eat me”.
And we’re glad we do, because we’d have had no room for all the delights to follow. After a quick, but thorough introduction to the various stations available, we’re led out to a table in the well-appointed courtyard, thankfully shaded from the blazing lunchtime sun. Our one and only complaint is the snail-paced service of our first drinks. Sincere apologies accepted, we head inside to weigh up how we’re going to tackle such a large and enticing buffet spread.
If you’re not a seafood fan, you might feel a little left out of the festivities, as fruits de mer is undoubtedly the main attraction.
We hanker for some cold starters and in truth, we’re spoilt for choice. A lovely prawn and apple salad is matched by some superb salmon, but then blown out of the water by the array of lobster.
We didn’t think it was possible not to become slightly bored of the crustacean king after trying it four ways in one day. But as we later discover, even if we had doubled our tally, the care and consideration paid to each version means lobster lethargy is highly unlikely to sink its claws in.
It isn’t long before the amazing aromas emanating from the barbecue draw us into its net. One bite of the perfectly cooked lobster and we’re hooked again.
The lamb also proves a fantastic treat, while the beef tenderloin is so juicy we drop our guard and start mopping it up with one of the warm, freshly baked mini baguettes.
Later, we head back inside to seek out the live foie gras and scallop stations that we’d heard so much about. It is disappointing, then, to discover that despite each being conscientiously prepared, the accompanying ingredients, apart from the black truffle, only detract from the flavours.
The foie gras would be better served with a slice or two of good, old-fashioned toast, while the scallops are let down by the sauce. But this isn’t a complaint; it’s more constructive criticism.
Rather than end on a sour note, we head back for a quick second round of tenderloin (just because we want to make sure it really is that juicy), grab a selection of desserts and completely forget about that temporary blip.
If only we’d left space for what looks like a superb variety of French cheeses and breads.
It’s often easy to pick holes in the slightest little things when spending three hours in one place. Subjectivity comes with the territory, of course, but overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, made all the better by the willingness of the entire to staff to make amends for the false start. They did so with aplomb, and thankfully without fawning over us. Dhs325 (soft beverages), Dhs450 (house beverages), Dhs696 (premium bubbly). Fri 1pm-4.30pm. The Palace Downtown Dubai (04 428 7888).
The bottom line Lobster is definitely king at this enticing buffet of (mostly) impressive ingredients.