Being the bubble that it is, Dubai may not necessarily adhere to the food trends of the rest of the world, and the culture of eating out will probably thrive here regardless of the recession elsewhere. Nonetheless, those who want to eat in will prefer to shop at smaller, more boutique outlets where they can find out directly from the staff where the produce is from. For meat, check out independently owned Prime Gourmet (www.primegourmet.ae), the new butcher near the Gold and Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road, which specialises in prime cuts of Australian beef and lamb, as well as veal and poultry. For fruit and veg grown nearer to home, look no further than the Souk Al Bahar farmers’ market, held every Friday from 10am-5pm, which only stocks locally grown produce.
The gluten-free diet is by no means a new trend, though it’s likely that it will continue to thrive in 2011. But why go gluten-free? It’s thought that gluten-free diets significantly decrease allergy symptoms among kids, and also alleviate other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit disorder and even cystic fibrosis. Allergies and illness aside, a gluten-free diet is also thought to facilitate weight loss. It’s almost an irony, then, that one of the flag-bearers of gluten-free food in Dubai is a butcher: Prime Gourmet (again) serves a range of Aussie gourmet sausages, including wagyu, Angus beef, and lamb and rosemary sausages – all of which are MSG- and gluten-free.
While single-purpose restaurants (ie venues that serve different variations of one food) are currently all the rage in London and New York, they’ve yet to make an impact here in Dubai. This said, we do have Wild Peeta (www.wildpeeta.com), a Dubai-based restaurant serving an eclectic and innovative array of shawarmas. Likewise, there are a number of French-style entrecôte restaurants around town, which only serve steak in a special sauce with fries. Our pick is Le Relais de L’Entrecôte in Festival City (04 232 5208). Don’t be surprised to see more single-purpose restaurants pop up around town later in the year.
Dubai? Sustainable? Okay, this may seem a little contradictory, but there are a few high-end restaurants trying their best not to purge the ocean of all its fish. Vivaldi at the Sheraton Dubai Creek in Deira (04 207 1717) launched its new menu at the beginning of this year, featuring a selection of sustainable fish dishes, while Verre by Gordon Ramsay (04 227 1111) has also fine-tuned its menu in line with the Choose Wisely campaign (www.choosewisely.ae).
Big brands start to listen
With consumers paying more attention to what they’re eating, big brands are responding with healthier menu concepts. Two franchises that exemplify this are Freshii in DIFC (04 227 1111) and N_K_D Pizza in Dubai Marina (04 453 4313). The former offers fresh and healthy lunch options, from soups and low-fat wraps to salads, while the latter is a takeaway pizza chain that prides itself on the use of probiotic ingredients. Modern, fast food with a healthy twist – a sentiment that’s as refreshing as it is tasty.