With its casual, laid-back atmosphere, inoffensively neutral decor and comfortable seating, this seafood restaurant feels romantic and intimate: as my companion and I arrived we spotted doe-eyed couples staring wistfully across tables as the staff bustled in the background.

Perched on the end of one of the fronds of the Palm Jumeirah, the Grill is located within the vast, sprawling new Fairmont The Palm. With only a smattering of guests around the place, it felt a little like a David Lynch film, with an undercurrent of unease amid the veneer of privileged, social harmony.

Luckily, the menu was less surreal, arriving with a predictably safe selection of grilled seafood dishes, salads and sides, along with ubiquitous burger and steak options for those less keen on fish. We ordered a selection of starters: the crab cakes, although generously crabby, were also sweaty with a slightly pungent aroma. The calamari were also disappointing – they were rubbery and difficult to eat, with a greasy, fast food-style batter. Luckily, things were redeemed with the raw scallop ceviche: the lime, avocado and tomato combined as a taste cavalry against the onslaught of blandness.

Mains were an adequate but unremarkable sea bass and a side of triple-cooked fries. We’d suggest that thrice-cooking the chips wasn’t really sufficient – they felt like rectangular sponge cakes. Other dishes included sweet potato fries, which were good, and a surf and turf. Worryingly for a predominantly seafood venue, while the turfy, bovine side of things was cooked faultlessly, the dish fell apart a bit with the seafood – the prawns were measly and suspiciously fishy (not in a good way).

The dish was accompanied by a school canteen-style blob of mashed potato that seemed more winter sustenance than expensive restaurant treat. Our other side of creamed spinach was also gluttonously calorific, arriving awash with salty butter; gloopy and guilt-inducing.

While the venue is undoubtedly pleasant and relaxed, its location on the beach in a hotel resort isn’t exactly a rarity in Dubai and, with the lack of distinctive atmosphere, it’s difficult to find any particular reason to trudge so far up the Palm. The other issue we have with this place is the prices. With pub-grub standards and a casual sense to proceedings, we don’t expect to be paying top dollar for dishes, regardless of how close to a beach we were.

In fact, things deteriorated when it came to settling the hefty bill. Conventionally, the receipt was presented for inspection and cards were handed over. While arguably, settling bills with two cards can make things more complicated, we don’t think we’re the first people to have addressed payment in such a manner. After the cards were taken away and returned, as is the norm, we left.

We were moments away from getting a taxi when we were caught by a member of staff, who informed us that we hadn’t paid and that we would have to return to the restaurant to honour our supper. Although the staff were suitably apologetic, it took the realisation that we were less than impressed before any apologies materialised. We suspect the confusion with paying was a one-off mistake, but we’re not so convinced by the prices and overall quality, despite the pretty spot.

The bill for two
1x crab cake Dhs70
1x crispy calamari Dhs65
1x scallop cerviche Dhs75
1x surf & turf Dhs210
1x sea bass Dhs185
1x sweet potato fries Dhs25
1x creamed spinach Dhs25
1x french fries Dhs25
1x bottle of still water Dhs23
Total (including service) Dhs703