Chocolate experiences in Dubai
Time Out celebrates the best chocolate experiences in Dubai, featuring amazing chocolate dishes, Dubai chocolatiers, chocolate spa treatments and more
Eat it, slurp it, study it, slather it all over your face. Will Milner reveals where to go loco for cocoa, all over town...
It’s by no means a pre-requisite to be a cheese lover if you’re heading for a bite to eat at Girders at JA Ocean View Hotel, but it helps.
This is because, as we eye up the menu, our stare is captured by a few particularly queso-tastic options, and of course we can’t resist.
You’d imagine that a sharable dish like nachos, priced at Dhs49, would be achievable for two people. Well, we can’t decide whether our appetite isn't on top form on our visit, or if the plate is so stacked that we find it almost impossible.
That is by no means a bad thing, you get value for your money, that’s for sure. The only problem is that it’s so unfeasibly cheesy that it feels like we’re embarking on a challenge, not a relaxed dinner.
And it’s more of the same when our mains arrived – we really wish we’d ordered in between courses, instead of all at once at the start – because the prawn quesadillas are filled to the cheesy brim, too. It’s a cheese-lover’s dream, and with a bit of a spicy kick to it, there are many who’d gladly eat here forever.
We also opt for the chilli beans burger – a beef patty topped with chilli beans, jalapeños, cheese (again) and onion rings, and served with fries. We’re ready to burst by the time we get halfway through this monster, but at Dhs70 for our burger and Dhs60 for the quesadillas, we’ve got cracking value for money.
If you’re not a fan of cheese, there are plenty of other grilled items and international meals, but approach the dairy dishes with caution, because they are not shy in slapping it on. But again, that’s not a bad thing.
The Bottom Line
Arrive hungry and roll out the door.
Great pub grub is no easy feat. It comes with huge responsibility to honouring and honing old-school favourites, and a great deal of expectation. And there’ll rarely be more of the latter for a pub opening in Dubai than that accompanying the arrival of The Lion by Nick & Scott. This is, after all, the award-winning chef duo behind Time Out Dubai’s Best European Restaurant 2018, folly by Nick & Scott. So, can they make it roar?
Formerly the culinarily abysmal The Black Lion, the chefs took over the bar back in April. The décor was given a nominal refresh (peaking at the introduction of live sports on TV), but on the food front the changes are significant.
It’s a long-held dream of the chef pair (who met while working for Gordon Ramsay in London) to own a pub, and of that the menu is telling.
Toasties and cups of tea sit next to match day roasts, burgers and biryanis. It’s classic and contemporary in the way of all great, modern British pubs.
Keen to try as much as possible, we kick off with a sharing basket of bar snacks. Quail egg Scotch eggs feature rich, runny yolks, while the herby flavour of the beef sausage rolls bursts out from the light, pastry casing – despite being accompanied by a strangely sweet sauce. (Our kingdom for some HP.)
On to mains, and the fish and chips is hit and miss – the meaty white fish is well cooked, but the chips are vastly underdone.
A beef pudding looks every bit the part, housed in buttery pastry, but the beautifully rich, delicious gravy can’t mask the toughness of the beef. It’s served with a generous dollop of creamy mash (yum) but no greens, so we order the seasonal veg. Only to be surprised by the arrival of a dish of not-so-pub-classic pak choi.
While the menu is on track, the execution doesn’t quite hit highs we’d hoped for. Nick and Scott have shown they can do it with folly, so with a little fine-tuning, there’s no reason why this Lion shouldn’t become king of the concrete jungle.
The bill (for two)
1x bar snacks basket Dhs55
1x beef pudding Dhs95
1x fish and chips Dhs90
1x seasonal veg Dhs18
Total (incl service) Dhs253
The bottom line
Decent, but some dishes miss the mark.
French culinary genius Yannick Alléno has his name over the door and the food here is worthy of a man who has three Michelin stars back in France. It’s a real destination restaurant, sitting impeccably in the One&Only The Palm. Décor and service are both superb. Food is delicately designed and plated but bursting with more flavours than it looks like is possible. It’s romantic and the food matches the ambience. The menu has no duds but hold back some space for a sweet ending – chosen from the “dessert library”.
When a new chef takes over an award-winning restaurant, questions inevitably arise. Will they live up to their departing predecessor? Will we still love the food? Thankfully, under the leadership of executive chef Doxis Bekris, we’re pleased to say the answer to both is a resounding yes. Get to Solo early and it can feel a bit like you’re rattling around the huge space. And it can take time to attract staff’s attention (the focus seems to be on preparing for busier times ahead). But you’ll be pleased for the time alone with the diverse menu. Look to the vitello tonnato antipasti, slow-cooked veal with tuna sauce, or the rather decadent carpaccio di capesante, scallop carpaccio with ox bone marrow and caviar. The fresh, thin and crispy, stone-baked pizzas are a classic, hearty choice, too. The cheese-to-topping ratio is spot on and the thin base doesn’t buckle under the weight of it all. Step outside of your comfort zone and try some tasty home-style dishes prepared with finesse. Solo is a cool, contemporary spot for a classically Italian dinner. Live the dolce vita and try it now.
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