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.
There are three things you should know about Ossiano. One, wait for payday because it’s pricey. Two, it’s fancy, so make an effort. And three, it’s pretty much perfect.
Few Dubai restaurants offer a true (arguably classic) fine-dining experience. Ossiano does. The experience is the right side of “stuck-up” (we’ll call it elegant, like the dress code). Expect to be greeted by a dimly lit, impeccably arranged dining room, with a floor-to-ceiling aquarium providing a mesmerising centrepiece.
Staff are pristinely presented, not a shirt wrinkle or ill-fitting collar in sight. The service is intelligent and attentive. Here you’re more than a customer, you’re a lovingly cared-for guest (the restaurant knows this is a place for special occasions).
On our most recent visit, we opt for, and recommend, The Experience Menu, where you choose between four, five and seven courses – whatever you (and your bank) can stomach. You can go à la carte, but why would you? This place is spectacular and you should dive in – face-first.
Once you and your bank manager decide on the number of courses, you’ll be treated to some of the finest seafood and service in the Middle East. Despite a long menu, every dish is a star. Oysters, scallops, cod, foie gras, beetroot ravioli (even the cheeseboard) are all wonderfully balanced, beautifully presented and intricately, expertly described when served.
It’s a magical couple of hours and on reflection there’s only one thing you should know. That is, if we could, we’d eat here every week. It’s that good.
The bottom line
Pai Thai won the Best Thai gong at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2016 for good reason. It’s stunning, offers spectacular views, and the gourmet food will leave a lasting impression. Make the journey to the restaurant via abra across the Madinat’s tranquil waterways, then sit outside on the terrace to take in the scene. If you have someone to impress, there are few better ways to do it than with a meal here. Inside, the restaurant is dark and understated, yet slick. It feels high-end without trying. Staff are helpful, knowledgeable and have a knack for knowing when to appear – just what you want from a venue of this standing. Get an overview of dishes with the Pai Thai starter sampler, starring meaty prawn cakes, sticky, sweet, sun-dried crispy beef, chewy, glutinous purple flower chicken dumplings and crisp vegetable spring rolls. Don’t leave without trying a classic Thai curry, the gaeng phed ped yang (roasted duck red curry) is rich and dynamic in flavour, lifted by the sweetness of cherry tomatoes and pineapple chunks and given a kick from the heat of red chillies. The menu also gets the occasional revamp, keeping the whole experience exciting and fresh. A winning meal out.
Set on the beachfront, it’s a truly stunning setting. For those familiar with the Aegean, it will conjure up memories of lazy days spent enjoying course after course of fresh seafood, crusty bread, olive oil and crisp, colourful salads. It certainly feels special as the sun goes down and the pretty lights hanging from the trees start twinkling against the shimmering water. The walk down to the shore to find the venue only heightens the sense of anticipation, and first impressions are great. A wooden basket containing breads, oils, herbs and tomatoes is a lovely touch while perusing the menu. There are cold and hot starters, freshly caught seafood, mains and casseroles. The restaurant is described as Aegean, so the food choices straddle Greece and Turkey. Cold starters are brought to choose from. The uskmuru (smoked mackerel) is allowed to sing for itself and has only the lightest of dressings. Hamsi (anchovy fillets) are given a similar treatment. The kabak (like tzatziki, but made with courgettes rather than cucumber) is the perfect dip. The octopus, meanwhile, is disappointing. While it’s perfectly cooked, the tentacle sitting with nothing to accompany it seems a little steep at Dhs75. Another let-down is the fener (monkfish) casserole, which is watery.