Every time I visit the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, the grand old dame of The Walk, I’m filled with nostalgia for my childhood holidays. The garish lobby is a homage to the subtleties of ’80s design (or lack thereof), and it’s usually teeming with sunburned families armed with inflatables and decked out in swimwear nearly as loud as they are. This is no criticism – the hotel is unpretentious and a lot of fun – but it does conceal the fact that there’s a rather good Italian restaurant tucked away amid the bustle. Diners haven’t been able to visit BiCE for the past few months (it’s been closed for a renovation), which was reason enough to revisit for a review.

The differences are immediately noticeable. The light and bright colour scheme and clutter of ‘Little Italy’ memorabilia has been replaced with low lighting, dark wood, twinkling tableware and pristine white tablecloths. The view of the glowing pool outside adds to the ambience and makes a welcome, calming contrast to the adjoining lobby.

BiCE was pleasantly full when my date and I arrived at 7.30pm, which is more than can be said for many restaurants on a Monday night. Within a minute of being seated, we were issued with menus, water and assurances that someone would be with us soon. Sure enough, a waiter soon glided over to take our order, as well as throw a few recommendations our way. I was won over by the sound of the sea bass, while my date went for the seafood linguine.

I was also dissuaded from choosing a pasta dish as a starter, which was just as well – both the octopus carpaccio and the calamari were served in generous portions. Golden curls of warm calamari lay beneath
a jagged mesh of zucchini tempura; the freshness of the squid ensured the dish wasn’t dry in the slightest, though lemon slices and arrabbiata sauce were on hand for diners wanting to add an extra edge.

My date’s carpaccio was equally satisfying: the meaty folds of octopus were arranged around an artful cube of warm potato gratin.

Just the right amount of time elapsed between starters and mains, and we were able to sit back and appreciate what had just come to pass, as well as hungrily anticipate what the kitchen had in store for us. I was all the more thankful for not ordering pasta as a starter – my date was confronted with a haystack of pasta interspersed with fat pink prawns. Before my fork could intrude upon her plate, I was distracted by the arrival of the sea bass; a pillow of white, roofed with a near-metallic, crisp skin. Two slender asparagus shoots lay either side of the fish, with bright-red baked cherry tomatoes lurking underneath. The care that had gone into the dish’s preparation and presentation made it all the more satisfying, and I hungrily cleared my plate in enough time to turn my attentions to my date’s linguine. As well as being hearty and gratifying, the balance of the flavour was near perfect – the taste of the fresh pasta could be discerned from the prawns and vice versa.

From the warm Italian bread to the imaginative starters and the hearty mains, the presentation, delivery and execution of the dishes at the new-look BiCE were near faultless (and made all the more palatable
by the reasonably priced bill, which was nearly as satisfying as all that preceded it). I used to visit the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah for a dose of nostalgia; I’ll now be returning for nourishment. Highly recommended.

The bill (for two)
1x Water
1x Octopus carpaccio Dhs85
1x Calamari and shrimps Dhs85
1x Shellfish linguine Dhs120
1x Seabass Dhs195
Total (excluding service) Dhs515