Maison Rouge

High-energy cabaret with a surprisingly good menu

The lobby of the Conrad doesn’t scream (or indeed sing) cabaret.

With its luxurious ochre colour scheme and indulgent soft furnishings, it’s hard to imagine a top-hatted dancer sashaying up the grand staircase past the sensible businessmen and serious-looking receptionists.

Yet on the hotel’s mezzanine level you’ll find Maison Rouge – the most unexpected of venues in the most unexpected of places offering a seriously un-Dubai night out. And perhaps surprisingly, it’s an absolute storm of an evening.

Walking past the electric grand piano beneath the heavy red velvet curtains is like entering a glizty showbiz spot from years gone by. All of the tables and chairs face the stage, with the idea being that you eat dinner while taking in the performances, ranging from extravagantly dressed singers to magicians and dancers strutting through some impressive routines.

And the calibre is extremely high. The performers appear on the stage in bursts, with highlights including an energetic rendition of Spanish flamenco dancing and a stirring Alicia Keys cover paired with live illusions – although some of the acting is hilariously over the top. Also impressive is the dancing on the kitchen counter-tops.

While Maison Rouge officially has two shows – 8pm to 10pm and 10.30pm until midnight – diners filter in throughout the evening and it’s worth turning up later to experience the full atmosphere (or else risk awkward eye contact with the magician).

And it’s a totally mixed crowd, with a group of suits on one table, couples on others and gangs of mates on others. By the end of the first set of performances, it’s completely full – and everyone is loving it.

The menu is pricey – Dhs75 for starters and Dhs150 for a good main course – but it’s worth remembering that entry is free.

It’s an odd range of cuisine, with a gooey Georgian cheese pastry sitting alongside spicy edamame beans and Mexican quesadillas, and some of the dishes are a bit old-fashioned. Our waiter recommends the chicken Kiev, a rugby ball of a dish which despite being straight from the ’90s is delicious, with a rich and oozy garlic butter sauce and generous lashings of truffle-infused mash on the side. Considering the real draw here is the on-stage action, the food is unexpectedly high quality.

Maison Rouge is a bit of a theatrical relic – but it’s a roaringly fun night out.

WHAT IS IT...
High-energy cabaret with a surprisingly good menu

WHY GO...
You won’t experience anything else like this anywhere in Dubai

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