Verre Est. 2001: Colleagues must have thought Gordon Ramsay mental for opening his first international restaurant in Dubai. At the time, there wasn’t much happening here. But Ramsay was certainly prescient, and his restaurant has been an expat favourite since it opened. It’s even fair to say that Gordon Ramsay set the trend of Michelin-rated chefs migrating east. Fortunately, his food is still of a very high standard. Now late eaters can indulge in five courses for Dhs350 (perhaps the best fine-dining deal in town).
Hilton Dubai Creek, 04 227 1111.
Capri Italian grill Est. 1980: For those living and working around the World Trade Centre, Capri has long been a salvation. The venue has personality, with walls strewn in plastic vines. And the focus is Italian, with a few burgers and kebabs thrown in for good measure. While this cheap, cheerful spot isn’t one to compete with the likes of Quattro or Frankie’s, the food it offers up is simple and tasty. Pesto is homemade and there’s a large range of decent pizzas and pasta dishes. There are even four different types of lasagna. All in all, it’s a nice haunt for the Trade Centre area.
Dubai International Hotel Apartments, 04 331 4505.
Al Dawaar Est. 1981: Back in the ’80s a revolving restaurant must have seemed the height of splendour. True, many new, glitzy, more gimmicky venues have since made it on the scene, but Al Dawaar hasn’t lost its wow factor. And, while the view may rotate, the decor has remained understated and masculine, with unfussy leather chairs and cherry wood appliances setting the mood. The food still impresses, with an international buffet that has lovely kebabs and equally good seafood.
Hyatt Regency, 04 317 2222.
Summer Place Est. 1987: You wouldn’t know this Chinese restaurant is 22 years old from the look of its refurbished, plush interior. As its age may suggest Summer Place (originally Summer Palace) has kept its standing by serving up reliably good and consistent fare. The restaurant’s signature item is its Peking duck, which is as famous for its quality as for its ceremony: two waitresses mount a double-pronged assault on the dish, with one of them silently shredding the sweet flesh from the bone and the other stuffing and wrapping pancakes.
The Metropolitan, 04 343 0000.
Malecon Est. 1989: Few new places in Dubai have the charm of this long-standing Cuban restaurant. The graffiti-strewn walls and Latin American menu make it unique in a city full of smart, ultra-modern bars. The place functions best as a cool nightspot, offering nicely mixed cocktails and live music, though earlier in the evening, it also makes for a decent restaurant, especially where the bar food is concerned. Our favourite thing off the menu is the camarones al coco, four plump prawns, in breadcrumbs, hanging over half a coconut shell filled with pineapple chutney.
Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, 04 346 1111.
Da Vinci’s Est. 1989: As Italian restaurants go, Da Vinci’s is one of few in Dubai that stays true to the European nation’s dishes. The quaint eatery offers authentic starters and main courses for diners with varied tastes. Typical pasta fare is offset by tastier cuisine, such as breaded chicken breast, which is covered in a light tomato sauce, filled with creamy cheese and served on a bed of tagliatelle. The duck option, combining asparagus, mash and mushrooms all dressed in a delicate tomato and garlic sauce, is also particularly appetising.
Millennium Airport Hotel, 04 282 3464.
Billy Blues Est. 1995: There use to be a time when letting a Thursday night pass without a pit stop in Billy Blues was unheard of. Gone are those days; the place doesn’t quite fill up anymore. But that shouldn’t put diners off. The place still has a relaxed vibe that caters to crowds and good food that caters to a budget. Ribs and gumbo make for unusual, not oft found fare. Though it has been open for more than 10 years Billy Blues remains one of our favourites.
Rydges Plaza, 04 398 2272.