The Insider: eating out

News and gossip from the Dubai restaurant scene. This week: new eateries

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November 15 must have auspiciousness hitherto unknown to us. Not only was it the date that contemporary Indian eatery Zafran and renowned Chinese restaurant Hakkasan allowed us media folk to snoop around their new venues in Marina Mall and Emirates Towers respectively, but it’s also the day that Jamie’s Italian (04 232 9969) officially opened (having been open for 12 months already). Confused? Yes, so were we, but it turns out that the cheeky-chappy chef’s Festival City restaurant finally got its alcohol licence and decided to celebrate with a knees-up on November 15.

Of course, we shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised by such delays – they are, after all, part and parcel of Dubai’s dining scene. Take London-based Argentine restaurant (go figure) Gaucho (04 422 7898), which finally opened on November 7, four weeks behind schedule. Meanwhile, Scott Price and Nick Alvis’s baby Table 9 (04 227 1111) opened on schedule on November 9 – see what they did there? – although the Eid break delayed the arrival of a snazzy projection screen. What will be projected via said screen remains to be seen.

Those hungry for yet more new openings need only wait until the first week of December (tentatively) for Italian restaurant Roberto’s, named after the co-founder of Dubai-favourite BiCe and scheduled to open in DIFC, while Alfred Dunhill-themed restaurant Alfie’s lands in Jumeirah Emirates Towers come January next year.

These new venues have generated a fair bit of excitement – excitement being a word not often used in the same sentence as ‘Canadians’, but one that leads us seamlessly onto our next point. Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons (www.timhortons.com), which whipped Dubai’s Canadian community into frothy frenzy when it opened on Sheikh Zayed Road earlier this year, launches on The Walk at JBR in the next month.

Keeping with cafés and delis, 1762 in DIFC (800 1762) is proving a hit for lunch (the beef and onions wrapped in Yorkshire pudding blew our tiny minds), although it was a shame that last time we visited they’d run out of butter (crisis in the kitchen!). Odder, however, was the dearth of shrimp at seafood dhow-restaurant Aprons & Hammers (04 454 7097). Admittedly, the crustaceous critters were shipped in around 9pm – super fresh, then – and hastily prepared for our table, but it could have sunk an otherwise very enjoyable meal. Let’s hope it’s a one-off.

Another water-based dining experience that we’re looking forward to is ‘Dinner on a Donut’. The Boardwalk at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club (04 295 6000) will be introducing floating tables in the near-future, alternatively known as ‘donuts’: powered circular boats that can seat eight and feature a barbecue station in the middle. Diners can either book a skipper or drive themselves, while barbecuing. Keep an eye on Time Out for further details.

But before we sail off into the sunset, we urge you to book your Christmas brunch – the mega feast at Al Qasr has already sold out, with others likely to follow. Until next week… bon appétit.

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