When hospitality group Jumeirah announced its annual Restaurant Week would return after a 12-month hiatus, and kick off with a resort-wide night brunch (of sorts) at Madinat Jumeirah, excitement spread among the city’s food fans. Promised to take in 14 restaurants and bars across Mina A’Salam, Al Qasr, Jumeirah Al Naseem and the Souk itself, the Big Bite Out sounded an ambitious undertaking, designed to allow diners to try out the wealth of different restaurants and cuisines offered at the complex.
Given the event has become the talk of the town, we’re not surprised to find it busy. What we’re not expecting, however, is the snaking queue we encounter as we attempt to collect our wristbands.
Undeterred, we join the sizeable line, and 20 minutes later we’re presented with a map and sent on our way.
In essence, this is a canapé-fuelled walking tour (plus transport via abra and buggy).
Anticipating busy scenes, we hot-foot it out to the abra station to our first destination – Pai Thai.
All the restaurants taking part in the Big Bite Out are, a little awkwardly, still operating as normal, with special areas reserved for BBOers, which are mostly standing.
While it does encourage us all to move around more, and keep journeying on to the next destination (no doubt the organisers’ intent), it does make everyone look a little like conference-goers on a lunch break, standing awkwardly around high tables. That said, the food is of a considerably higher standard.
Pai Thai is a great spot at the best of times, with its romantic twinkling lights and the opportunity to arrive by boat. And it turns out that picking it as our first destination is a wise move.
Small dishes of pad Thai, green curry and papaya salad circulate with ease – all brilliant and only too easy to wolf down.
The restaurant quickly fills up and it’s time to move on. We hop back on an abra and head to Pierchic. Given this is one of the city’s most beautiful dining spots (and typically among its priciest), we’re prepared for it to be one of the most popular spots of the night.
However, after 15 minutes of being unable to get to the bar, we decide to cut our losses and move on. There’s plenty of food being brought around, but somehow no forks. Diners are left staring longingly at their plates of squid ink risotto.
Other locations, such as Khaymat Al Bahar and Segreto, fare better. They’re less busy, so we’re able to take a seat and enjoy the nibbles on offer – Segreto’s Parmesan risotto and Khaymat’s hummus ice cream cones are real highlights.
It’s fun, it’s relaxed and a generally enjoyable night out.
In theory, Big Bite Out is great idea. In reality, in some locations it really works, others not so much. We’re clearly unable to make it around all 14 destinations, but we’re mostly happy with what we find.
People largely seem to be having a great night out, despite some being visibly extremely hot (it might have been wiser to host an predominantly outdoor event later in the month), but on the whole people are happy and seem thrilled by the journey around the restaurants. Whether they managed to get value for money or not will be down to the venues they chose to visit.