Lots of signatures, but served with none of PLAY’s trademark flair
Time Out Dubai staff
As winner of Time Out Dubai’s Restaurant of the Year, 2017, there’s a certain level of expectation that goes with dining at PLAY Restaurant & Lounge. Set in the upper echelons of The H Dubai, it’s a smart, stylish place, with tiered seating, a pervading aroma of truffle and superb views out to Bur Dubai.
Unfortunately, its Monday night brunch doesn’t quite cast the award-winning restaurant in the best possible light. While you’ll perhaps get to try a wider variety of dishes (at a potentially more affordable price) you’ll only be sorry you didn’t go à la carte when you see the same dish being served to a neighbouring table with far greater flourish.
There also still seems to be some confusion. Firstly, over the package – we order house beverages, only for our waiter to return and explain they’re only an option with the later brunch sitting. And then the order in which dishes should arrive – the most surprising thing about the second-course Pita Surprise is that it arrives first. Least surprising is that it is just as supercalifragilistically rich, creamy and crunchy as we remember, with a kick of truffle that’s not for the faint-hearted.
An assortment of beautifully presented sushi arrives, quickly followed by an impressively ornate plate of raw wagyu carpaccio. But the delicate slivers of buttery meat are overwhelmed by a liberal coating of truffle dressing.
A tempura (chopped shrimp, decent), gyoza (duck, oily) and PLAYful salad (very welcome) later, and by now we’ve ordered mains, and eagerly await the arrival of entrecôte with café du PLAY butter, and PLAY’s famed carbonara, typically swirled in a giant Parmesan wheel, tableside.
Only, when it arrives, there’s no Parmesan wheel. No showmanship. It’s nowhere near the PLAY experience we’d been hoping for and, looking around the room, nowhere near the experience every other diner is having.
PLAY has never been the sort of place to go on a budget – and even with the arrival of this more wallet-friendly evening offering, that has never been more true. Dhs300 (soft drinks 7.30pm-9.30pm), Dhs450 (house beverages 9.30pm-12.30am). Mon. The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 336 4444). The bottom line Save up and go à la carte instead.