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
At Souk Al Manzil in Downtown Dubai, a funky, lively and friendly Jamaican eatery sits within a windowless façade.
Step inside, however, and you’re greeted by an explosion of colour, smells, music and general vibrancy.
Ting Irie adds to the city’s Caribbean restaurant scene, and stands out alongside Miss Lily’s (our Best North American & Caribbean Restaurant 2018) as a great place to get your hands on some authentic Jamaican grub.
The place is always pleasantly busy, adding to the funky vibe.
Follow the waitstaff’s recommendations and get a handful of dishes from the “Likkle Bites” menu. From this, don’t miss the “world-famous” Jamaican patties, some stuffed with beef, others with curried veggies, they’re top-notch –- bursting with spices and flavour.
If you can manage not to scoff the lot (and then some), save room for the Jerk hummus (super-spicy yet strangely still moreish), followed by the butta corn – topped with lime butter and charred spring onions.
For a healthy choice go for the pumpkin and kale salad – crystallised pumpkin seeds, quinoa, roasted pumpkin and a punchy peanut dressing.
Everything is super-fresh and tasty, and although it may be on the pricey side for Jamaican street food, this place is way too cool to miss.
The bottom line
Cracking Jamaican street eats.
La Serre’s Bistro feels bright and airy, thanks to the crisp white colour scheme. On any given night you’ll find it buzzing, and staff deal adeptly with the throng of diners – you won’t even notice the wait between ordering and being presented your food, and requesting and receiving your bill.
Start with the shaved cauliflower salad with Manchego cheese, citrus and almonds. Light and refreshing, it’s a great precursor to some of the bigger flavours you’ll tuck into. The beetroot salad starter is one. It’s full of taste, texture and heat contrasts that we love. It comes with small rounds of warm goat’s cheese, studded with pistachio nut crumbs, mixed in with the cold cubes of beetroot. An absolute delight.
Mains are split into pastas, seafood and meat, making it easy for the indecisive to navigate. All the classics are present, including beef Bourguignon, baby chicken and fillet steak, plus scallops glazed with balsamic reduction and parsnip purée, and piquillo peppers. Of that the baby chicken is a standout, with its creamy, flavourful truffle Hollandaise sauce. A side of rich gratin Dauphinoise and steamed broccoli will go down a treat, too.
This is one of the most impressive French restaurants we’ve had the pleasure to eat in. Book a table and you’ll see why.
Brightly coloured and filled with the sounds of modern and old-school reggae and dancehall, Miss Lily’s may be one of the city’s smaller restaurant, but it’s all the better for it.
Feeling like a funky, urban Jamaican canteen-meets-American diner, this New York import serves up an intimate, convivial atmosphere with a massive wallop of fun.
While it may not have delivered Dubai its first taste of Caribbean food, it’s undoubtedly the city’s favourite.
Service is swift, personable and attentive, the atmosphere is electric on any given night, and the food is superb – a savvy blend of authentic and inventive.
For Caribbean-meets-Middle Eastern, don’t miss the ackee hummus, served with grilled roti flatbreads, while the crispy fish tacos with spicy escovitch dressing are knockout.
Everything impresses. There’s West Indian curry prawns (uber-fragrant), curry goat stew (fall-apart delicious) and, of course, Miss Lily’s “world famous” jerk grilled chicken.
Bigger groups can also order the likes of garlic-roasted lamb shoulder, hot pepper lobster and slow-roasted pimento short rib. And visit in a big group you absolutely should. A restaurant like this deserves a party, and you deserve to taste as many dishes as possible.
The bottom line
Fun hangout with spot-on food.
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