Lack of consistency takes the shine off JBR’s new Italian venue 20 Reviews
The kitchens of Rosso, Benihana and Horizon offer a joint selection that spans crêpes, barbecue, roasts, shawarmas and Japanese robatayaki, served on the hotel’s pleasant terrace. Dhs215 (soft drinks). Dhs305 (house beverages). Dhs535 (bubbly) Timings: Noon-4pm (Friday)
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The Amwaj Rotana is the latest hotel to hit The Walk at JBR, and brings with it two restaurants: Rotana stalwart Benihana and new Italian eatery Rosso. The dearth of licensed premises in the area means both venues are in a prime position to do some great business, which perhaps explains why Rosso was buzzing when we visited late on a Tuesday evening – at least, it appeared to be buzzing. The restaurant’s bar, through which guests pass to reach the dining area, boasted a generous smattering of hotel guests and a few curious passers-by, though the restaurant itself turned out to be decidedly less busy – the first indication of the Jekyll and Hyde dining experience that was to follow.
The decor was another contradictory aspect: the dark, masculine reds and solid tables would be more suited to a steakhouse than a restaurant that purports to sell delicate Italian food. And then there’s the ‘open’ kitchen, which is sealed off by plate glass. If the glass were removed, the hubbub of the kitchen would enliven Rosso’s slightly sterile atmosphere. As it was, we could only watch the chefs set about their trade in sound-proofed silence.
We took our seats and were presented with the menu and a cumbersome chunk of crusty bread, which was tasty enough (the black olive paste was a nice touch), but not in the least bit practical – before we had done so much as look at the menu the table was littered with crust and crumbs (or maybe that was just us being overly messy). The menu itself was confusing. The pricing of many starters was similar to the mains, so it was hard to know what to expect from our order – would the involtini bresao turn out to be enormous? Or were the ingredients simply of such a high quality that they warranted the Dhs75 price tag (keeping in mind that the pappardelle main was only Dhs70)? We were assured by the waiter that each starter was sufficient for one person and we’d have enough room for our main course. And he was right – there was nothing unusual about the size of the involtini or the carpaccio, and both turned out to be quite good, despite the meat being suffocated by over-fussy and unnecessary garnish.
While our starters were decent enough, the contrasting quality of our main courses – the squid proving to be the Dr Jekyll of the two, and the duck pappardelle Mr Hyde – illuminated the inconsistency that besets Rosso. The former was a decent example of well-presented, well-executed seafood, while the latter was little more than a browning mess of congealed pasta, slimy broccoli and tasteless meat.
It’s difficult to see what lies ahead for Rosso. It’s by no means a bad restaurant, but it appears to be suffering an identity crisis. If the management can remedy some of the venue’s more obvious shortcomings and put together a brunch deal worthy of the vast (licensed) al-fresco seating area, then winter on The Walk could be very interesting indeed.
The bill (for two)
1x Involtini bresao Dhs75
1x Carpaccio manzo Dhs68
1x Pappardelle Dhs70
1x Squid Dhs88
Total (excluding service) Dhs301
Time Out Dubai,
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