For many people a night of fine food and a fantastic film is the perfect way to spend an evening.
But when the best meal available to cinema lovers is a hot dog and a box of popcorn the experience is severely lacking.
Time Out has gone in search of ten restaurants within walking distance of a cinema.
Grand Megaplex @ Ibn Battuta
Finz: The Ibn Battuta mall is home to Dubai’s only 3D Imax screen and attracts film lovers seven days a week. For anybody looking for some culinary class with their cinema pass Time Out recommends Finz. Once you’ve picked your table, snacked on a few free morsels of biltong and taken in the surroundings (shopping mall pandemonium) the food at Finz may come across as a little incongruous, to say the least. And that’s a good thing. Take the inventiveness of starters such as lobster ravioli (two giant al dente parcels with lobster, red onion, chives and a swirl of carrot emulsion), seafood bisque with prawn tail or vegetable tempura – generous, thick-cut chunks of veg hot from the fryer with a mango chutney dip.
Cinestar @ Mall of The Emirates
Butcher Shop & Grill: Dining options at the Mall of The Emirates make it one of the country’s finest malls for foodies. If you’re heading into the cinema here, make time to drop in at the Butcher Shop and Grill. Considered by many to be one of Dubai’s best kept secrets the Butcher Shop and Grill offers up a meat feast. If you’re ravenous for meat – thick, juicy steaks in particular – then who better to consult than a South African? And preferably one with a massive knife. The Dubai branch of Butcher Shop & Grill celebrates the tradition of South African carnivorousness in a shopping mall.
Films showing this week
St Maxim: The Mall of the Emirates is not really the place where you would expect to find authentic French bistro fare – after all, a mall is the antithesis of French bistro cuisine. Once through the doors of St Maxim, however, you enter a land more reminiscent of Nice than Next. Snails are not something ordinarily found in places also featuring tourists in shorts and people skiing indoors, but they’re served at St Maxim with garlic butter. That most French of all casseroles, the cassoulet, is also surprisingly good for being so far from home. Although it lacks the pork Toulouse sausage, the cassoulet is packed with crunchy haricot beans and a melting duck confit.
Cinestar @ Deira City Centre
La Villa: It is as far away from the cinema as can be without actually leaving the City Centre complex but if you can’t face the crowded tables of the food court La Villa is a decent option. The restaurant is actually located on the mezzanine floor of the Sofitel hotel, so your view is of the lobby down below. Like the Mediterranean restaurants it takes as a role model La Villa serves up excellent food from a menu dominated by fresh fish.
Cocos: Let’s be frank. A venue like Coco’s is never going to move culinary mountains. The best you can hope for is that you get what you pay for with no nasty surprises. That’s fine if you want a quick bite mid-shop or before visiting the cinema. You probably won’t want to be too concerned about calorie counting either, because the portions are more than plentiful. The spinach and artichoke dip starter, which comes in a bread bowl with a giant handful of nachos, is salty, rich and with enough vegetable chunks to almost create an illusion of healthy eating.
Grand Cineplex @ Wafi
Planet Hollywood: The ultimate in pre-cinema dining, this has long been a popular haunt for families thanks to the masses of genuine Hollywood artifacts. Have yourself a party and order the Three Amigos VIP platter, perfect sharing food with gigantic portions of buffalo wings, beef satay, shrimps and chilli skins. If you want to do more than just graze, pick a pasta di mafia or pizza to get your fill.
Grand Mercato @ Mercato
Paul: Beyond the questionable delights of a food court the dining options at the Mercato mall are limited. The easy access on Jumeirah Beach Road might make you want to dine elsewhere and drive to the cinema. For those not wanting to risk missing the start of the film Paul can be a lifesaver. The sandwiches are excellent belly ballast and a healthier alternative to the usual blockbuster fodder. Opt for the Fisherman’s Faluche - an agreeable smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber number and you’ll have a smug sense of satisfaction as you watch your movie.
Grand Cinecity @ Al Ghurair City
Shogun: This intriguing restaurant, and the promise of a good film, might be enough to persuade you to make the trip into Deira. This Al Ghurair Centre restaurant seeks to conquer all with its comprehensive spread of Japanese, Thai and Korean dishes, which fill the well-thumbed pages of three separate menus. You might need the steely resolve of a Shogun to deal with the large portions, but you’ll certainly vow to regroup and return to fight another day at this intriguing restaurant.
Lamcy Cinema @ Lamcy
Lemongrass: Any excuse to visit one if Dubai’s finest independent restaurants should be jumped at. That’s why Time Out recommends making a trip to watch the latest Bollywood releases at the Lamcy cinema. Before going in to get your Bollywood fix, however, you should sample some of the finest Thai food in Dubai. Nestled among the discount shops in the Lamcy Plaza area is Lemongrass. A deceptively unimposing façade leads into a tasteful interior of subtle greens and delicate peaches, where heady aromas of Eastern spices permeate the air.
Grand Metroplex @ Near Metropolitan Hotel
Don Corleone: Once one of the most important venues in Dubai, the Grand Metroplex has been somewhat marginalized by the arrival of a growing number of cinemas. But for anybody wanting to take in a new movie without having to face the hectic overcrowding of a major shopping mall this cinema offers blessed release. Arrival early and you can take a seat in a restaurant inspired by one of cinema’s greatest ever characters. The food probably wouldn’t make it onto the real Corleone’s wish list but for a licensed sit down before or after a classic gangster movie it is worth trying out.