When looking for a memorable dinner spot for a special occasion there are three elements we all seek: quality of food, quality of service and quality of setting. And, if you’re heading to Armani/Amal, you’ll find all three aspects in abundance.
The swanky restaurant is located inside the Armani Hotel – crowned the world’s most luxurious hotel in 2016 – so expect elegance and high-end design at every turn. Inside, the expansive restaurant lives up to its former high praise, while the outside terrace is a stunning spot that’s bound to impress even the most hard-nosed of “I’ve-seen-it-all” Dubaians.
The menu is a mix of vegetarian and non-veggie set menus as well as à la carte.
If you’ve arrived hungry, it’s a wise decision to go for the set menu options, as the bill will soon rack up here with starters hanging around the Dhs100 mark and mains double that – plus you’ll have to order rice and bread separately.
That being said, the views of The Dubai Fountain below are simply stunning, and the vantage point provides an exceptional photo opportunity, so don’t be surprised to have a hoard of your fellow diners gathering around your window seat table every half hour to watch the performance below.
Vegetarians are well looked after and the Punjabi samosa is one of the most memorable you’ll have. A special mention must go to the garlic naans, too.
However, from there most other dishes struggle to stand out from the plethora of outstanding Indians in the city.
The curries can be a bit underwhelming in flavour. When paying anything up to Dhs200 for a main we expect the exceptional, but they’re not.
They lack the oomph of other fine-dining spots in the city, they lack the playfulness and, despite asking for them to be spicy, they lack the heat of a good curry.
That being said, you won’t leave disappointed with the food, as portion sizes are generous enough, it’s just that there are plenty of exceptional spots in the city that outshine this foodwise.
While the dishes don’t have the wow factor, it’s the setting that elevates this restaurant experience to special standards.
WHAT IS IT...
Fine-dining Indian in the world’s tallest tower
For unrivalled Dubai Fountain views
If you’re after a romantic evening full of top-quality Indian food and views of the Burj Khalifa, then Mint Leaf of London should be top of your list. The dimly lit dining room has stylish décor and floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a fantastic view all down Sheikh Zayed Road.
It’s the perfect setting for an evening out, whether you’re on a date or catching up with a group of friends, as the vibe is upbeat yet intimate.
One of the consistently high-quality Indian restaurants in the city, Mint Leaf has so far resisted the urge to join in with the molecular gastronomy crowd. And we like it all the more for that reason. Instead, what you get at Mint Leaf is a fine dining take on classic Indian flavours and ingredients.
If you’re a fan of curries then you won’t be disappointed, as at the heart of the restaurant’s menu are wonderfully fragrant and subtly-spiced dishes (including an excellent dhal makhani and sea bass mussalam) and grills (prawns roasted in Goan coconut sauce and tandoor lamb chops).
Everything looks and smells the part as it comes to the table, too. If you’re after a drink, the lounge and bar area is equally cool and moody. It also has a top ladies’ night in the bar area.
The bottom line
All in all, a great place to spend an evening.
Hailing from Mumbai, Khyber is the latest arrival to Dubai’s Indian fine-dining scene.
Set on the 15th floor of DUKES hotel on the Palm, Khyber’s traditional Indian cuisine comes with a side of panoramic views and authentic interiors (think vibrant paintings and intricate concrete pillars).
The focus here is primarily on authentic North Indian dishes. The menu (like the décor) mirrors that of the famous Mumbai restaurant, with favourites from the original all present and correct. Staff are eager and helpful, so on their advice (and with the promise that they will be different to what we expect), we opt for some of Khyber’s signature dishes.
They’re not wrong. A dish of butter chicken is as far removed as it could be from the overly sweet, bright red offering we so often see. It’s perfectly spiced (complete with a kick), rich without being sickly, and we love the tangy shards of grated ginger.
The paneer tikka is a massive portion, delightfully charred and delicately spiced, while a tender lamb seekh kebab packs quite the punch. Order wisely and you’ll leave pleasantly full, rather than feeling as though you need a lie down.
As much as we love some theatrics, a meal at Khyber is none the worse for being authentic and simple.
Food arrives in traditional metal dishes, not in plumes of dry ice, as is the trend in some Indian restaurants in the city. There’s a place for both and Khyber holds its own when it comes to taste.
The same sadly can’t be said for the atmosphere. As most places are during the summer, it’s quiet when we visit, but the shape of the room (it’s long and narrow) perhaps may never be conducive to an upbeat vibe. It’s also very brightly lit.
Go for the food, but not for a lively night out.
The Bill (for two)
1x seekh kebab Dhs90
1x paneer tikka Dhs70
1x dum murg Dhs110
1x butter chicken Dhs105
1x naan Dhs15
1x jeera rice Dhs25
1x large water Dhs20
Total (including service) Dhs435
The bottom line
Traditional dishes done well, but served in a setting lacking atmosphere
Home-grown Indian restaurant Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor offers a pleasant dining experience in its Mankhool location. The property is rather confusing to enter, but, once there, the restaurant is smartly decorated and family-friendly. Plus, for the quality of food, the prices are very reasonable – for instance, a seven-course tasting menu will only set you back Dhs249 – and the dishes are creative and generously portioned. You’ll find sour cream foam, stone-flamed lamb chops and a compressed mango-melon salad, for example. It’s all expertly cooked, with well-balanced flavours, and particularly enjoyable. It might not be a restaurant you’d go out of the way for if you’re staying at the other end of town, but, if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit for the inventive food, friendly team, good value dishes and more casual vibes.
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