Having only been open a couple of months, The Stables has already proved itself a popular drinking den. Indeed, there’s almost a grandeur about the high-ceilinged venue, with its loose equine theme, that makes it one of the most unique bars in town. It’s fair to say we were expecting good things from the restaurant.

We visited on a week night and though the bar was bristling with Brits as usual, the restaurant upstairs was completely empty. At least this way we were able to admire the unique features of this particularly handsome space – its beamed ceilings, sturdy chandeliers, dark wooden floors and furniture, smart bar area and intimate mezzanine level.

If anything, the grandeur accentuated the emptiness of the restaurant and, after some time admiring the view, we asked whether it would be possible to order from the restaurant menu but eat in the convivial atmosphere of the bar below. The friendly staff cheerfully obliged, though the manager explained that the food would take a little longer than usual (the time it took to walk downstairs, we imagine). With this in mind, we perused a surprisingly concise menu and ordered a shared starter of foie gras and chocolate (yes, you read that right) and the equally elusive ‘mixed fish’ and a steak for main.

Readers that sense an air of foreboding are not mistaken. Our starter was the first indication that The Stables Racecourse Restaurant has a long way to go before it can enjoy the same popularity as the bar. The foie gras itself was passable, but its pairing with strawberries, blackberries and chocolate sauce was an abomination. While foie gras can, and has, been served with chocolate with some success (foie gras with French toast and spiced chocolate ganache, for example), each component of this dish had no relation to the next. The chocolate was not bitter or spiced as it could or should have been, but syrupy sweet – the kind you’d treat yourself to when ordering ice cream. The fruit was fresh, but nothing had been done to it that could possibly explain why it featured at all.

The ‘mixed fish’ that followed did little to expunge the experience we’d just endured. Any palpable indication of the shrimp and scallops were drowned by béarnaise, which also masked the unwanted presence of potato wedges and carrots. Carrots and prawn? Oh dear. My date had faired marginally better with her steak, if only because it didn’t suffer the same eccentricities as the other dishes we’d ordered. Otherwise, it was tough and wholly unmemorable.

To the manager’s credit, he stopped by and asked us our opinion on the new menu, to which we (politely) questioned the foie gras. He conceded it wasn’t the most conventional of dishes, before explaining how the menu would change in time and feature a number of foie gras offerings. Change is one thing, but from what we sampled The Stables would be better off scrapping the menu altogether and starting anew. We’d suggest a simple selection of sure-fire gastro-pub favourites in keeping with the venue, rather than the ill-conceived attempt at fine dining we have at present.

The bill (for two)
1x Foie gras Dhs70
1x Mixed fish Dhs95
1x Beef filet Dhs125
Total (excluding service) Dhs290