+971 4 323 1833 DIFC

If you work in DIFC, chances are you’ll have been to BOCA. With a fun, post-office vibe it’s a lively and relaxed place for pint with colleagues or friends. But don’t dismiss it as just a bar – this Mediterranean restaurant deserves you staying for dinner.

It’s a cool little hangout, which opens out to a terrace outside, making it feel big, bright and like the place you (and a sizeable chunk of the DIFC crowd) really want be in cooler weather. It’s big, bright and airy and is the place to be in the winter.

The restaurant has made an effort to cater to modern tastes, too, boasting a vegan menu (including vegan grape varieties) as well as sourcing local and sustainable ingredients. Dibba Bay oysters, Emirati sea bass, vegetables from the Waterfront Market in Deira – you can guarantee your produce is fresh and seasonal.

The tasty menu is primarily Spanish – a variety of paella is available, including a vegan rendition – and is heavily focused on tapas such as manzanilla and octopus carpaccio. Some dishes even take on a local twist, such as sweet potato hummus.

With a fun bar, lively staff and top dishes, stop in for dinner in BOCA, DIFC office worker or not, and that’s why it claimed a Highly Commended gong at the 2019 Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards.
Open Mon-Sat noon-1am, Sun noon-midnight. Licensed. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 323 1833).

British 04 456 1959 Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

Sitting in a pretty location with a terrace overlooking the beach, cool weather will afford brilliant seaside vibes at this popular JBR eatery.

Inside, it’s quirky, with the eponymous utensils hanging up and featuring prominently in the décor, making you feel like you’ve just walked into British Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens’ own kitchen for a meal.

Preserves neatly stacked on shelves make up an entire wall and add pops of colour to the rustic furniture, giving the space a vibrant, contemporary café feel.

Food-wise all the classics are on the menu, from salads to roasts and traditional mains.

However, breakfast is where this restaurant comes into its own, as it proved picking up the Best Breakfast gong at the 2019 Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards. Breakfast is served daily from 8am until noon, plus several dishes are served all day until 6pm, including eggs royale (piled high with fresh Loch Fyne salmon) and Merguez sausages, which are punchy, flavoursome and meaty.

We also recommend the poached eggs with crushed avocado on sourdough and the full English, fully loaded with fried eggs, homemade sausages, bacon, roasted tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms and baked beans. The sweet and moreish chia pudding is also a hit.

The pastries are flaky, buttery and delicious, and if you visit between 8am and 9am you’ll get a free coffee with any dish.

Being set right on the beach it’s a perfect location for a family-friendly morning out, and that’s proved by the huge amount of families enjoying breakfast here every weekend.

European 04 430 8535 Umm Suqeim

One of the most creative restaurants to arrive on the Dubai dining scene over the past year, folly by Nick & Scott is all about classic and often minimal ingredients, prepared in new and exciting ways.

And the views, from the top of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah complex, aren’t half bad either.

While the menu is composed of small plates designed for sharing, the best way to really experience the skill (and it truly is skill) of founding chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price is by booking your seats at The Kitchen Bar.

Here, diners can taste their way through a menu of signatures (with or without a guided pairing from the excellent sommelier) created by the chefs themselves, who are on hand to explain the story of every dish.

In short, it’s absolutely spectacular. The end result is a wholly bespoke, utterly entertaining meal, featuring some magnificent creations – and we’re not just talking about the buttery, garlicky escargot-filled “doughnuts for grown-ups”. Or the downright sublime, thank-goodness-they’re-on-the-bar-snacks-menu guinea fowl sausage rolls.

Oh, just go already.

The bottom line
A truly one-off restaurant experience.

British 04 426 2000 Palm Jumeirah

Gordon Ramsay’s Dubai venture comprises a huge bar area, sprawling dining room and large outdoor terrace, all seemingly far too big to fill up. But don’t be fooled – it gets busy. Very busy.

It’s partly the top Brit chef’s name that no doubt draws the crowds, but that sentiment alone would do a disservice to the food, which is frankly delicious.

The menu is full of homely dishes with a touch of elegance, and some with a twist (we’ve raved about the beef Wellington many a time). And they really are of a calibre you’d expect (and hope for) from a chef of Ramsay’s top standing.

The baby chicken with chimichurri main is simple but tasty, though the stand-out of the meal is the crispy beef short rib with pomegranate, pomello and hoisin honey glaze starter. The tender cubes are sticky sweet and full of rich, intense flavour, and the delicate meat falls apart beautifully. It’s reason enough to book a return visit.

The outdoor space is lovely in the cooler weather, and is ideal for families, too, as the kids can roam without disturbing diners.

Bread Street Kitchen is a good all-rounder from a British culinary great that you won’t need to remortgage your house for. Result.

The bottom line
A great all-rounder from a top chef.

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