Time Out is the guide to the best dishes in Dubai, and here we reflect on all we ate in 2016 at Dubai's best restaurants, including meat and seafood
Time Out has no problem telling it like is, and we’ve tried so much food in the city that quite frankly it’s alarming. And while once a year at our restaurant awards we share the best restaurants to go to, based on service, ambience and a multitude of things, we thought it would be nice to zone in on individual dishes. Here are some menu items that make the trip to a restaurant completely worth it on its own.
Tucked away on the first floor of DIFC’s Burj Daman, this chic, low-lit Italian restaurant is the Dubai outpost of Florence’s three Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri. And if you haven’t already guessed by now, it’s well worth a visit. Whatever you choose from the menu, the cooking rivals the very best in the city. Burrata served with roasted tomatoes is the perfect temperature and consistency, spilling lazily across the plate once pierced with a knife, while the slow-cooked octopus tentacle with green beans and potatoes is beautiful, with a delicately crisp, salty exterior. Of the mains, the sea bass, a fillet baked simply in a salt crust, shows how little interference really good ingredients need. Topped with roughly chopped olives, try pairing it with a colourful side of roasted mixed vegetables and the potato purée all rich and velvety. It’s not often you come across such consistently spectacular cooking, but The Artisan has it by the forkful.
With swanky locations in Marbella and Monaco, it’s little surprise that Dubai was chosen for the latest Billionaire Mansion, the brainchild of businessman and former Formula 1 supremo Flavio Briatore. The restaurant has two menus – Sumosan and Billionaire Grill – and there’s also a nightclub, shisha terrace, lounge and karaoke room. It’s all very elegant, and live dance shows throughout the week lend a real sense of occasion. It’s nicely atmospheric when full, but there are quieter times, too. You’re encouraged to choose from both menus while eating, which could cause a slight culture clash, but thankfully doesn’t. Pizzas are good from the Italian side, while sushi rolls are excellent if you want to try something Japanese. Desserts are great, too. As a whole package, we really like it, and despite the glitzy-sounding name, it isn’t elitist at all.
Many well-known, Michelin star-wielding chefs have arrived in Dubai over the years, keen to stake a claim on the city’s dining scene. But few have done it with the quiet, understated class of Jason Atherton’s Marina Social. Stowed away inside the InterContinental Dubai Marina, with views out over the sprawling waterways from a spacious terrace, the modern British and Mediterranean restaurant is stylish and un-shouty, allowing the remarkable cooking coming out of the kitchen to speak volumes.
Open your experience here by starting with something from the snacks menu. Rich, creamy and crunchy, it’s almost impossible to stop scoffing the goat’s cheese churros with truffle honey, while the English Breakfast tea and toast, served on a tiered tray, with mushroom broth, bone marrow butter and gentleman’s relish, is deliciously earthy and enjoyably playful.
Moving through the meal, there’s little that doesn’t delight; sweet, creamy salads of Atlantic crab; delicate, salty parcels of pulled duck agnolotti; and a buttery, meaty quail pie so stupefyingly tasty you could be forgiven for fainting face-down into the creamy mash served alongside it.
Innovative, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable, there’s little wonder Marina Social is our Best European of 2017.
The Bottom Line
For modern British cooking, look no further.
A creation of celebrity chef Silvena Rowe, this Jumeirah Fishing Harbour café is fairly quiet, only lapping up the atmosphere from the surrounding walkways and shared kitchen, thanks to its open design. Special touches include the ceiling of hanging plants, recognisable from the chef’s other outlets. On the top of the menu you’ll see a key declaring what ingredients you won’t find in the dishes. While this may be off-putting for some, it provides a great opportunity to try something new, and is perfect for those watching what they eat or those with intolerances. But you’ll still find a varied menu full of hearty salads and meaty mains, plus a selection of dishes that come from Omnia Blue, which is situated opposite. On display is a cabinet of wicked-sounding desserts, which taste as indulgent as they look – amazing considering they are all gluten, dairy and sugar free, as well as raw and vegan. With attentive service, this is a great option with a prime location.