Italian +971 4 441 6342 Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT)
It may be chain-y and, well, Pizza Express, but we’ve long been fond of the Jazz@ branch in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, with its devotion to live music, laid-back atmosphere and good-value pricing.
Since the restaurant recently underwent a revamp, we’re only too happy to return.
Its outdoor area has hugely improved, now feeling more like a restaurant than someone’s backyard. Inside, the relocation of the stage to the entrance of the restaurant divides opinion on our table – in fact, the whole overhaul of the interiors does (it feels a bit clunky and disorganised – our dining companion disagrees). Fortunately, there are two things we’re able to agree on – firstly, that the addition of high tables is a good move, and secondly, that service is woefully inattentive.
Sigh. At least prices are still keen.

Piping hot dough balls and an American on a Romana (super-thin) base are as good as they ever were, but calamari in a stodgy, cakey batter returns to the kitchen barely touched, while the rolled, stuffed eggplant (aubergine) dish is no worthy replacement for the seemingly discontinued Parmigiana melanzane.

Still, with bottles of grape under Dhs160 and some top tunes (will Jazz@ ever be so quiet as during local musician Chad’s super rendition of Percy Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman?), we’ll be back.

The bottom line
Casual, affordable eats in JLT.
04 224 6663 Abu Hail

On its website, Wakame describes itself as “the hottest place in town”, but in reality it’s rarely more than lukewarm. It’s a stylish venue with modern décor and sleek furnishings, and it has a nice bar area, too.

However, whenever we’ve eaten here it’s too quiet to enjoy fully. Sometimes you can still enjoy yourself in an empty venue, but here staff go from the extremes of fawning all over you and hovering around the table to being absent just when you actually need them. It’s a shame, because the food at Wakame is mostly very good.

There are unusual dishes that pique the interest on the menu, such as the lobster taco with yuzu guacamole or the crispy Japanese aubergine with burrata, and everything that comes out of the kitchen looks great. We absolutely recommend trying a few dim sum; the chicken soup dumpling being a favourite of ours. The steamed bao buns are also worth investigating, especially the lamb shoulder. Main courses are surprisingly pricey, especially compared to the starters and small plates, but there are some fine cuts of wagyu and other expensive ingredients on there.

If busy, Wakame could be great fun. If you do head here, we reckon a table full of small plates to share is the best way to go.

DIFC

This design-conscious café-shop-intellectual space from Lexus is one of the coolest conceptual spots in Dubai.

Designed by interior designer Masamichi Katayama, the man behind the Tokyo outpost, there are clear Japanese elements in this project – just visit the toilets for the most obvious. But these are blended with features that characterise the UAE perfectly – the ceiling reflect the country’s ubiquitous sand dunes. There are also artistic, futuristic, automotive elements in the design, to remind you that you’re in a creative space delivered by a luxury car brand, after all. It’s a truly unique spot in Dubai.

Intersect is the kind of place you’d come to for a light bite to eat over a bit of creative confab at breakfast or lunch, and this, the café does well. With the Intersect eggs Benedict, you get one with salmon and one with smoked brisket, meaning you don’t have to choose. And it’s a true reward – eggs perfectly runny, brisket tender and smoky.

The business lunch offers great value, too, at Dhs98 for two courses and Dhs110 for three. The steak sandwhich is decent, though it won’t blow your mind, but the Chilean sea bass is a standout, with it’s zesty, yuzu-dressed turnips and smoked onion purée.
For something a bit different, this is one for the must list.

The bottom line
Creative, inventive café serving good grub.

800 276 963 Sheikh Zayed Road

Dubai is no stranger to the churrascaria concept, with a handful of restaurants offering the all-you-can-eat meat feast. The problem with the popularity of the idea, for this Crowne Plaza eatery at least, is that repetition invites comparison, and nothing at Chamas stands out favourably with other Brazilian joints. Service tends to be slow, confused and not particularly warm. The setting is darkly brooding and lacks the rain forest charm or carnival vibrancy of other restaurants in this category, although a lively band does its best to liven up the meal. All of which could be forgiven if the food exceeded expectations, but, unfortunately, it does not. Waiters circulate, carving a variety of meats at tables, which although passable, do not stand out above a regular steak or carvery option.

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