Mina A'Salam restaurant switches from seafood to Brit Gastropub 8 Reviews
Jumeirah Restaurant Week
The restaurant promotion returns for a second year, offering set menus at Jumeirah restaurants across the city. Dhs120 (casual dining) (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
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In spite of Britain’s mixed culinary reputation, it seems Dubai can’t get enough of the rainy island’s food. So much so that The Wharf has dropped its seafood menu in favour of British gastropub grub. Now, I’ve always viewed gastropubs with a degree of suspicion. While the initial concept reinvigorated the British restaurant scene, the tag ‘gastropub’ quickly became an excuse for pubs to serve pretentious yet average food at inflated prices. However, I was willing to give The Wharf the benefit of the doubt – as I would with any venue that runs a pie-and-pint promotion every Thursday.
Though its menu has been given a British twist, The Wharf’s cavernous interior seems to have been left largely untouched – its exposed-brick walls, high arches and rustic chandeliers could pass as an underground Dickensian beer hall, but in reality the handsome furnishings of this Mina A’Salam venue could accommodate any genre of cuisine. However, at this time of year the interior matters not. The Wharf’s selling point is its outdoor seating area – think Brit beer garden with Arabic characteristics.
It was bustling when I visited, and I assumed that the bigger groups occupying long tables littered with glasses were enjoying the aforementioned pie-and-pint promotion. As much as I was tempted to join them, I instead opted for some of the menu’s more ambitious dishes. The Yorkshire pudding with pan-seared foie gras and caramelised onion gravy was of particular interest – not so much for the foie gras, but for the Yorkshire pudding, which is rarely done well outside my grandmother’s kitchen, let alone far from the shores of my rainy little homeland. To add a dash of colour to my starters, I also ordered the spinach salad with poached pears, beetroot and stilton.
The Yorkshire pudding proved a pleasant surprise and almost made the wait worthwhile. Though perhaps not as soft and fluffy as I’d have liked, it was nicely complemented by the onion gravy, and was certainly better than most I’ve tried in Dubai. The foie gras, however, had a disconcerting crust, which gave way to an odd, slippery texture and underwhelming taste. What was most odd about the dish, however, was that its components were disparate – even if the foie gras had been good, it had no relevance to the Yorkshire pudding and the gravy. It was as if they had been served on the same plate for the sake of it.
The salad, however, was much better. The tastes and textures of each ingredient complemented the others very well – the sweet beets were balanced by the pungent stilton, which in turn was tempered by the sliced pears. The spinach was fresh and had just the right amount of dressing, though I couldn’t help wondering whether this ultimately simple dish warranted the Dhs50 price tag. Still, the salad saved my starters, so I didn’t dwell on the prices for too long.
For mains, I first eyed the pie options – shepherd’s pie, wild mushroom and stilton, or steak floating in pea soup – but I was intrigued by the pork belly and black pudding. Just as with starters, it took some time (and a reminder) before the dish arrived. When it did, I was confronted with a glistening pork belly sat atop the black pudding, next to a trail of creamy mash – top marks for presentation.
Unfortunately, the taste didn’t quite live up to the aesthetic. While the smooth mash was competently prepared, more could have been done to add a little pizzazz – a clever dash of spice here, perhaps, or a sprinkling of herbs there. Likewise, the pork belly was decent enough – though not the softest I’d tasted – but nothing had been done in the kitchen to raise it to the next level. The black pudding, disappointingly, lent little to the meal; it was buried under the meat and mash. As with the Yorkshire pudding and foie gras starters, the different components could have been integrated more convincingly, and ultimately the dish had no unity.
Perhaps the nature of the cuisine was bringing out the uptight Brit in me – I was becoming impatient and restless, when really I should have been enjoying a hop-based beverage in between courses and soaking up The Wharf’s pleasant al-fresco atmosphere. Maybe I was frustrated that I didn’t opt for the simpler, (dare I say) more ‘English’ options on the menu, but ultimately The Wharf’s more ambitious offerings fell short. I’ll certainly pay a visit again, but only for pies, pints, and a jolly night out. After all, it’s the simple things that work, and the restaurant shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
The bill (for one)
1x Yorkshire pudding and foie gras Dhs70
1x Spinach salad with poached pears and stilton Dhs50
1x Confit pork belly Dhs90
Total (excluding service) Dhs210
Time Out Dubai,
- Previous reviews
- 22 March,2012- reviewed by Time Out Dubai staff
- 26 March,2008- reviewed by Jeremy Lawrence
- 25 July,2007- reviewed by James Brennan
- 12 March,2007- reviewed by Time Out Dubai Staff
- 30 April,2006- reviewed by TimeOut Dubai Staff
- 01 February,2005- reviewed by Matthew Lee
- 01 October,2003- reviewed by Rob Orchard
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