Lama Dubai

Floating restaurant tour on the Dubai Creek

Time Out Says

I wondered if I had gate-crashed a wedding. The mood onboard was one of good-natured confusion – all happy, back-slapping uncles, foot-tapping middle-aged men and excited women. With people embracing both staff and other guests, it seemed more like a gathering of extended family than a group of tourists, but after a lengthy wait, in which we had remained resolutely moored opposite the InterContinental, the spirit of conviviality started to wear a little thin. We received no explanation. We just sat and waited amid the golden fairy lights, Arabic cushions and stiff white tablecloths and napkins, until we finally glided off in the direction of the Creek mouth.

The dhow itself is impressive. A large upper deck, protected from the elements by a white sail canopy, is connected by parallel curved wooden staircases to the panelled indoor dining area, where the frantic free-for-all at the continental buffet seemed somehow out of place.

Sadly the food didn’t really warrant such levels of enthusiasm. Unmarked tureens – arousing suspicion among vegetarians – contained an uninspiring array of dishes, all looking as though they had been lying there rather too long. The lasagne was generously meaty, but the mildly-spiced prawns were too watery, the fish came in a very bland creamy sauce, and the lamb chops were too dry. All the flavour had been boiled out of the mixed vegetables, and the fried potatoes were soggy and crying out for some salt. A rubbery tagliatelle and vegetable combo was similarly tasteless. The salads were fresh but very basic, with ingredients limited to chopped lettuce, cucumber, tomato and the odd can of tuna. The Indian spread upstairs seemed a better bet. The chicken tikka masala was enjoyable if rather too mild, while the mutton rampuri was a little tough but strongly flavoured.

People were still crowding around the sweet tables, where a good fruit salad and inoffensive Indian rice pudding trumped a gloopy chocolate dessert, when the sudden appearance of a belly dancer sent them stampeding to the far end of the deck. Any remaining notion of a serene starlit dinner blew overboard as the party took to the floor, with women clapping and fatherly figures jiggling their shoulders self-consciously as the music blared in cheerful fits and starts.

By Matthew Lee  | 01 Feb 2005

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Dubai, Deira, Baniyas Square-14th Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

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