Having opened some time previously in a quiet and inconspicuous soft launch, it now seemed time to pay Fuego a visit. A slight hiccup however, came before we’d even arrived, when a mere ten minutes before our reservation, the restaurant called, anxiously asking whether our reservation was confirmed. You tell me. Once at the door though, we were swiftly escorted inside, without anyone asking for that reservation, confirmed or otherwise. The restaurant space was modestly sized, and slightly elongated. The overall impression was slick and smart, with an understated palate of browny purples, and purple-hued browns, melding into one. The place was not unattractive, if not slightly lacking in character and was ill-suited to the ‘modern Mexican’ concept.

We were shown to a table for four, which was swiftly stripped of the extra two seats and we sat down. Following further confusion, it seemed that not only was this not our table neither were any of the other unoccupied tables (all of which were set up and ready for four). Despite the suggestion that we’d be happier eating in the bar we eventually sat down, at a table for two, and stayed seated.

Kudos to Fuego though for being busy on a Thursday evening, and the staff dealt with the situation in a polite manner. There was however, a slight sense of confusion and lack of professional polish that effected service throughout our meal. One waitress appeared to have a firmer grasp of service skills, but her knowledge of the menu, and ability to explain it was still limited.

Nevertheless, the dishes on the menu sounded unique. We opted for the ‘guacamole on the spot’, which was made at our table and to our taste, served in a dramatic volcanic-stone bowl. The guacamole was exceptionally fresh. It also had a particularly good consistency, which was velvety and creamy. For starters, we also tried the red snapper ceviche. It was fairly small, considering the Dhs92 cost and the waitress wasn’t quite sure whether it was a starter or main course. But it was pleasantly presented, in a little tulip-cup of cucumber slices and flanked by fiery Mexican sauces. It tasted pleasant too, with an overwhelming citrus flavour. The Fuego brochetas (marinated prawns on a skewer) were very good, with a juicy, meaty, smokey flavour.

For our main courses, we ordered fajita de pollo (chicken), lamb shank barbecoa and a side dish of Mexican street style corn. Both main courses arrived with so many different elements (charro beans, rice and flat breads with each dish) that the table was groaning, and at the risk of being ungrateful, it was hard to really give anything its full attention. The chicken for the fajita was deliciously garlicky, but it was so fatty and the texture so dense that it gave the meat a slightly processed quality that my dinner partner found off-putting. The lamb shank barbecoa was cooked and served in a banana leaf, as a huge portion, in another statement stone trough. It was beautifully delicious and tender, with intriguing strips of nopalito (prickly pear stems) and very good little flat breads.

The food at Fuego tends to be very enjoyable, well-made, well-presented and in some cases, using intriguing ingredients or ideas that would add hugely to the diner’s enjoyment if the waiting staff were able to impart this. Service lacks the expected know-how for these prices and location. If that could be upgraded a little and some more character in the decor then we would consider returning for the food.

The bill (for two)
1x guacamole Dhs47
1x prawn brochetas Dhs54
1x red snapper ceviche Dhs92
1x Mexican street-style corn Dhs22
1x lamb shank barbacoa Dhs166
1x chicken fajita Dhs97
2x mocktails Dhs70
2x large water Dhs36
Total (including service) Dhs584