Creekside: This may be one of the best places in Dubai to hold a social gathering: the service is friendly and the food is abundant thanks to the plentiful buffet, which (believe it or not) is pretty tasty. The starter selection of Asian salads is itself enough to justify the bill, and there are also live stations that dish out good renditions of teppanyaki, tempura, seafood and grilled meats. The sushi is fresh and flavoursome, and there’s a surprisingly large variety. Just be careful with the seafood (we sampled a crab claw that tasted chewy and de-thawed). This infraction can just about be forgiven, however, with a glance over the dessert buffet, where tiramisu tarts and pear pies glisten.
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Baniyas Street, Deira (04 228 1111). Open daily 7pm-11pm, brunch Sat noon-3pm. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine each: Dhs500-600.
Al Khayma: With its al-fresco setting near the water’s edge, lively oud players and friendly waiters, Al Khayma is a worthy addition to the city’s Arabic restaurant scene. Surrounded by swaying palm trees, private majlis tents and sumptuous purple and gold velvet drapes, it’s reminiscent of a wedding reception marquee (albeit one designed by Liberace). There’s an emphasis on mezze staples and Lebanese grills (the rock lobster in particular is melt-in-the-mouth fresh), and the fact that the place welcomes large group bookings adds to its ceremonial ambience. But as with any five-star hotel, the prices are on the expensive side, though given the sheer romance of the place it’s hard to be too bothered by the price.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (04 345 8808) Open daily 7pm-3am. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine each: Dhs150-200.
Nineteen: Surrounded by the peace and quiet of the Montgomerie golf course’s rolling greens, Nineteen is more than up to par. Take a seat on the relaxed candle-lit terrace or inside the plush, modern interior, where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. Whatever you choose from the menu, which presents select dishes from fine European cuisines, you’re unlikely to be disappointed – each plate is beautifully presented and tastes as good as it looks. The oysters are icy fresh and the duck leg is crispy, complemented by a smooth creamed sweet potato side. With a tasty amuse bouche, a range of indulgent and delicious desserts (try the sinfully sweet sticky toffee pudding) and a serene setting, the bill is surprisingly reasonable.
The Address Montgomerie Dubai, Emirates Hills (04 390 5600). Open Fri-Sat noon-3.30pm; daily 7pm-midnight. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine each: Dhs500-600.
Bistro Madeleine: ‘Bonsoir!’ the maître d’ will announce as you walk through Bistro Madeleine’s doors. The cheery, authentic French feel continues throughout the restaurant, with its country kitchen decor, chequered tablecloths and hearty food. The menu has many sections, from breakfast to sandwiches, mains and afternoon tea, yet each part is simple. Almost too simple. Three-word descriptions such as ‘roasted farm chicken’, with no sides to speak of, appear a little too literal. Sure enough, the beef steak and French fries is exactly that, but it’s tasty and chunky, so who’s complaining? The prices are also agreeable, making this a pleasant experience all round.
InterContinental, Dubai Festival City (04 701 1111). Open daily 8am-midnight. All major credit cards accepted. Average price of a meal for two with a glass of house wine each: Dhs300-400.