Set over two levels, each offering different, but equally holiday-esque views of the Arabian Gulf (and the occasional smattering of super-yachts), this Italian restaurant at The Westin Dubai Beach Resort & Marina offers two distinct, separate dining experiences. Head to the al fresco upper deck for authentic (reasonably priced) pizzas and a more casual experience, or book a table downstairs and tuck into some Italian fine-dining. The lower portions of the venue are split into the restaurant and lounge bar, both best enjoyed during Dubai’s cooler months, when the indoors-meets-outdoors Mediterranean setting really comes into its own. Cosy, atmospheric and consistently busy, the food is elegant and well-balanced, and the mains are generously portioned. If you’re looking for casual dining then the pizzeria serves excellent, perfectly blistered pizzas, loaded with toppings alongside a holiday feel. Just fancy a drink? Head across for a sundowner where there’s a decent happy hour space to sit and chill out overlooking the hotels sprawling pools. A top-notch outdoor restaurant, and well worth a visit whether you have guests visiting, are on holiday yourself or just want those relaxed vacation vibes.
There are some restaurants in Dubai that come and go in the blink of an eye and there are others that refuse to be budged from the city’s dining scene, seemingly immune to fads or an often fickle market. Buddha-Bar falls into the latter category. In fact, it perhaps suffers due to its familiarity, but when you walk in you can’t help but be impressed by the huge, atmospheric venue.
The sweeping high ceilings, moody lighting, red furnishings and massive windows allowing views of Dubai Marina, make for a fairly awesome setting.
There’s a big bar area as well as the vast seating area, and if one thing goes against the venue it’s how open and exposed you can feel while sitting at the table.
The food certainly doesn’t disappoint, however, with almost every part of the menu offering something excellent.
Go for the maki rolls or dim sum, and you won’t be disappointed, and some of the meat main courses are very good, too. The traditional Thai curries are a hit, too. Noodle and rice dishes don’t have the same wow factor, but are decent, filling options.
Is the food on trend? Not particularly? Is it worth the prices? Perhaps not. But there’s something about Buddha-Bar that keeps drawing people back in. We think it’s the overall package – the good vibes, tasty food and impressive setting amount to something more than the sum of its parts.
The bottom line
Well-presented food that mostly hits the mark, but you pay for the privilege.
Winner of Time Out Dubai’s Best Fine Dining Newcomer award in 2017, the fact this superb Anatolian eatery claimed Best MENA in 2018 is testament to its consistency in all areas.
In cooler months the doors are flung open to make the terrace and main dining area one, but in summer the cosy vibe and warm décor make the inside dining room a treat to visit, too.
The atmosphere is relaxed, convivial and romantic. Service is slick, as are the innovative dishes fired out of chef Colin Clague’s kitchen, which take diners on a journey through Turkey, from northern Marmara to the Aegean coast.
Lamb cutlets with creamy, smoky aubergine, grilled octopus with black-eyed beans, meatballs with baby artichoke – each dish is beautifully presented, deeply fragrant and rich in classic regional flavours. The pide is stunning, too.
A touch of Turkish sage here, a sprinkling of zaatar there, sumac, saffron… This feels like a real, modern journey through the celebrated cuisine of an ancient nation.
And if you get lost on your travels, the staff are never far from hand to make recommendations. Trust them – they know what they’re talking about. And trust us when we tell you this is one of the best restaurants in town.
The bottom line
Inventive dishes in a slick setting.
When popular takeaway joint Kcal announced its sister restaurant at Le Méridien Mina Seyahi, the posh diners looked up and listened. Gourmet by Kcal caters to the generation of Instagrammers and brunching mums, but specifically to the calorie-counting crowd of Dubai. This restaurant prides itself on being 100 percent gluten- and guilt-free. Its interiors are trendy, rural and earthy, almost mirroring the items on the menu. There are sweet potato pancakes, quinoa vegetable noodles, green papaya salad and a pumpkin-crust pizza among many other culinary offerings. Get a table outside for a weekend breakfast with your mates, and order the poached eggs with avocado and kale. The almond and coconut muesli is tasty, too. The real winner at Gourmet by Kcal is the presentation of each dish – it’s all very aesthetically pleasing and mostly on salvaged wooden chopping boards. The waiting staff are attentive and really know their stuff. This is a great spot for a catch-up with friends, even if they’re not the calorie-counting type.
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