Can new Meydan Beach outlet live up to Michelin-starred Milan sister? 6 Reviews
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When Milanese restaurant Giannino touched down in Dubai, it did so swathed in heritage and the shadow of a constellation of stars (both the Michelin and celebrity variety) associated with the original venue. Aside from the members-only mystique that new club Meydan Beach hoped to achieve, this restaurant’s Italian sister has been playing host to the likes of the Pope and Victoria Beckham, not quite since it opened in 1899, but at least for some time now.
Passing the ice-bland, ‘Club Tropicana’-tinged lobby of Meydan Beach, the immediately distinct style credentials of Giannino hit me as my friend and I approached the restaurant. It was in keeping with the ambience of many a trendy London bar: open and lofty, decorated in a vast, impressive Italian style, with monochrome marble splashed with psychotropic hits of contrasting colour and pattern. The space was worthy of a Venetian palazzo, perhaps one that Signor Dolce and/or Signor Gabbana are still in the process of moving into. In fact, it felt as though the dust sheets had only just been removed.
We took a seat in cosy purple and lilac armchairs (once the waiter had cautiously checked whether he should do away with the excess cushions for us), and browsed the brief menu. As it happens, we later found out that although the restaurant had been open for two weeks, it was still only offering a limited selection of dishes (as a ‘soft opening menu’) when we visited.
Starting with the antipasti, the carpaccio di scampi con limone candito e basilica (langoustine carpaccio, candied lemon and basil), arrived with a slightly intimidating-looking langoustine perched on top of a furiously translucent sea of carpaccio. The beady little eyes stared up at me imploringly (no doubt off-putting for my seafood-phobic friend), but I decided to tuck in anyway. The carpaccio was sweet and silken, while the tail of that lonely little langoustine tasted so vibrantly like the sea that it remind me how rare supremely fresh seafood seems to be in Dubai. Sadly the ornamentation of scattered candied lemon peel was a little excessive, and needed an extra dimension to lift it.
Meanwhile, my friend tackled the stracciatella di andria, al basilica e fave fresche (Andria’s torn mozzarella, fava beans and basil). Essentially just a huge bowl of cheese, with splodges of olive oil and a few slivers of fava bean, it was indeed delicious cheese, both gooey and creamy. Yet the dish was rather one dimensional: the fava beans didn’t add enough (besides colour) to break up the monotony.
While it may be a tradition in Italy, we debated whether it would be excessive to order a pasta from the ‘primi piati’ list, as well as our main courses. The waitress encouraged us to follow the Italian way and plough on, so we cautiously ordered the ravioli to share: namely the pansotti fagiolini, patate e prescinsêua, pesto alla ligure (ravioli filled with potatoes and string beans, Genoese curd with basil pesto). The potato filling was a little stodgy, but the subtlety of the flavours (dynamically fresh pesto and some particularly flavoursome toasted pine nuts) eventually grew on me.
The waitress made much of the costolleta alla Milanese di vitello alto e rosa (pan-fried breaded veal cutlet ‘alla Milanese’), and much of the fact that it was cooked pink. Actually, it was barely pink at all, and arrived looking like a gastro-pub lunch (teamed with crisps and salad). While the meat was juicy and tender, it was also exceptionally fatty and lacking in flavour. In contrast, the costolette di agnello con carciofo fritto alla giudea (rack of lamb, fried artichoke) was presented well – it was beautifully pink and tender – and the cheesy richness of the stock added to the depth of flavour from the meat.
The desserts (gelato and tiramisu) weren’t worth the excitement, and certainly not worth the inflated prices. Comically, the tiramisu was served in exactly the same style of bowl as our cheesy and creamy starter. The layering of the tiramisu was a little amiss, so ploughing through the depths of creamy mascarpone (yet another huge bowl of cheese) lent a rather unsuccessful sense of symmetry to the evening.
While the space is impressive and the service slick, this restaurant will have to dramatically lower its prices or elevate its menu to attract the same praise as the Milanese venue.
The bill (for two)
1x langoustine Dhs135
1x stracciatella Dhs95
1x ravioli Dhs135
1x lamb Dhs180
1x veal Dhs250
1x tiramisu Dhs60
1x gelato Dhs45
2x large water Dhs60
2x espresso Dhs56
Total (including service) Dhs1,016
Time Out Dubai,
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