It’s happened again. Dubai has brought in another darling of the West to set up a restaurant, only this time it’s not a Michelin-rated chef that’s headlining, but the designer Karim Rashid. In keeping with his ‘democratic’ view of design, his visual masterpiece is not perched in some exclusive club or five-star retreat, but next to the ice skating rink in The Dubai Mall (bring on the hoi polloi). While the city’s foodies haven’t quite exploded over the news, the art community’s been fairly buzzed. I base this on an informal survey including Time Out’s art editor and my interior designer flatmate, both of whom were raving at what ‘the poet of plastic’ had in store for Dubai.
Because my flatmate was so excited to see the space I brought him along as my date. The shoebox shaped restaurant was framed by an undulating wall of white plastic that curved above our heads in a hook shape, tapped off with a metal screen engraved with Arabic script. The chairs – which resembled white blood cells – added to the illusion that we were actually dining inside a vital organ.
The menu held as much promise as the interior, with some menu descriptions proving tantalising. In some instances the items delivered. A starter of pepper-fried baby calamari had a nice little kick, though it could have been a bit more tender. The sweetness of the accompanying melon and mango salad (an inaccurate description: it was a dipping sauce) made an interesting combination with the fiery squid. I wasn’t completely sure, on eating it, whether it was a good interesting, but the curious combination pushed me to finish it, if only to get a handle on the thing. Sesame seared tuna was a more standard opener, one that’s hard to mess up and one that, happily, was delivered perfectly.
Mains, unfortunately, were a letdown. When I read Switch’s menu online, I was intrigued by the tapenade coated fillet of line-caught fish in a creamy crab and saffron sauce. The fish, disappointingly, was a dark, greasy slab of salmon, and the sauce – a disconcertingly creamy orange pool, lacked any trace of crab and came with skin at the top. It made for an unappetising starring role. My companion’s beef medallions were on the small side (especially when you’re paying Dhs89 for them) and, as a whole, were almost completely forgettable.
Desserts were a mixed affair. My sticky toffee pudding was moist, if bready. And, while it was reasonably enjoyable, it was certainly no match for the version at Rivington Grill, located a short walk away in Souk Al Bahar. My date’s mango and coconut ice cream parfait, however, dragged the trajectory of the meal down. The block of ice cream was frozen so solid a knife couldn’t have cut through it, and when it did finally yield – after a minutes-long thawing session – the interior proved frostbitten.
Admittedly, Switch didn’t offer one of the better meals I’ve had in Dubai, but in fairness it is on par (perhaps a slight cut above) most of what you’d find in The Dubai Mall. And, of the restaurants I’ve visited there, it is also the only one that is actually enclosed and, as a result, is spared the ice rink’s blaring soundtrack. With its design and positioning it has a tremendous amount of potential to be one of the shopping centre’s few havens.
The bill (for two)
1x Large Arwa water Dhs15
1x Calamari Dhs42
1x Seared tuna Dhs58
1x Beef Medallion Dhs89
1x Line fish Dhs65
1x Mango parfait Dhs29
1x Toffee pudding Dhs35
Total (including service) Dhs333