Dim sum, dumplings, yum cha, whatever you want to call it, we’ve searched out the city’s tastiest pint-sized parcels
Dim sum refers to a plethora of dishes – steamed and fried little treats and dough-encased dumplings, traditional to the Canton regions of China. But it also refers to the Cantonese art of turning dumplings into a meal time and occasion; the Chinese answer to afternoon tea. In Dubai, dim sum varies from authentic yum cha served from trolleys, to highfalutin foie gras stuffed concoctions. We ate our way through bamboo steamer after bamboo steamer with dim sum deals and à la carte options galore (with even a Himalayan option thrown in for good measure) to find out where Dubai gives Hong Kong a run for its money when it comes to dim sum.
A bona fide family-friendly Dubai institution, Reform Social & Grill is that rare thing – a community pub. Set in the Lakes, it is perfect for a weekend meal with a few drinks, mum and dad able to chill out in the garden while the kids play on the small playground and makeshift football pitch alongside it. In the week the place is also rammed, but with people popping in for a pint and bite to eat on the way home after work. And those bites are very good, by the way. Pâtés, steak tartare and salads pepper the starters – and the pear and stilton tart is a corker, too – while there are four packed sharing platters to choose from, top grills, good salads and a lovely ploughman’s. A special shout-out to the burgers as well. Juicy and fat. Just as they should be. Good breakfasts, too. This place is highly recommended.
This won our Best Pub Food gong at this year’s Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards, so it’s fair to say we’re a fan. The Eloquent Elephant is a majestically classy pub in the Business Bay end of town, with some of the greatest interiors in the city – all cool lighting, top quality furniture and a curvy, metallic bar dishing out exceptional mixed drinks. The food is stunning, too. The burgers are brilliant, the curries delicious (it is set in an Indian hotel, after all), the gnocchi is infused with truffle and the grilled smoked paprika octopus with padron peppers and turkey chorizo is one of the greatest flavour combinations you’ll find in Dubai. Small bites include crunchy, soda-battered onion rings, triple-cooked, chunky hand-cut chips and Thai-spiced chicken crackers. And the sticky toffee pudding to finish is the stuff of hazy, nostalgia-filled dreams. Simply superb.
A proper British pub. That’s what The Rose & Crown sets out to be and, thankfully, it manages to succeed. It has a pool table, a dartboard and tons of big screens. There are proper bar stools and booths, cask hops and books on shelves. There is also a menu that looks like it was brought straight out of a pub in England. Unfortunately, the prices are very much Dubai. We don’t mind that if the food is always excellent, but here it’s inconsistent. On a few occasions we find ingredients substituted for others or missed off completely, which is annoying. The good stuff, though, is really good, especially the pies and burgers. The full English adds bubble and squeak for an extra touch to the usual ingredients and the homemade sausages are excellent. Best of the bunch is the shepherd’s pie.
riding itself on good old-fashioned hospitality and flavours of the Deep South, Perry & Blackwelder’s serves some great food, but the overall experience doesn’t quite match up. Some staff are attentive and know their stuff, while others seem disinterested and forget parts of orders. It can also take a long time to place your order, and for the food to arrive. The vibe of the venue is spot on, though, with its US-style décor, sport on the TVs and funky tunes providing the atmosphere. When it comes to the food, we’d say steer clear of the Texas BBQ nachos (not a great deal of flavour) and loaded potato skins (they seem cooked from frozen) and instead go for the chicken wings or burgers, which are excellent. There are also a selection of sauces on the table, which help liven up some of the duller dishes. A good place for drinks with friends, especially if you sit outside, but to be a destination for dining, things need to improve, especially with such competition nearby.
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