Middle Eastern +971 4 330 0000 04 319 8760 DIFC

If you’re looking for a Lebanese restaurant for a treat-worthy meal, look no further than Al Nafoorah at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. The menu is executed with flair, and this regal eatery is a worthy winner for the second consecutive year in this category.

Dining at Al Nafoorah comes with a real sense of occasion. There’s always a decent buzz to the place, even at lunch.

Service is sharp and attentive, but not overbearingly so, so while you’re never waiting for your water glass to be replenished, you’re not smothered, either.

Dishes are classic – from mezze to grills. All the staples are on there, from fattoush to moutabel, via some tasty sambousek. Our main advice? Don’t miss the hummus. It’s some of the dreamiest and creamiest in the city.

Meats are simple, but special, cooked on a charcoal grill for an unmistakable flavour. Dishes are never overcomplicated, and as such, Al Nafoorah is a great example of how simplicity can be genius.

Serving up fantastic Lebanese dishes, this restaurant is hard to fault, and there’s a second luxurious venue at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the Palm, too.

It may be more expensive than your average Lebanese, but it’s definitely worth pushing the boat out.

04 354 5035 Sheikh Zayed Road

Make no mistake, this French restaurant is extravagant. With grand, regal seats in royal blue and chandeliers throughout the sprawling, crisp white dining room, decadence is on show here. But it’s also super-cool with a fun vibe and buzzing atmosphere.

It brings a sense of dining in the south of France and a chilled-out, leisurely Mediterranean ambience that makes a meal here an excellent choice.

Not least because the food is top-notch, too. Fresh, seasonal ingredients directly from the Mediterranean are used to create some of the best dishes that French cooking is famous for. The restaurant’s signatures include escargots à l’ail – Burgundy snails with cured meat, garlic butter and smoked mashed potatoes, plus shards of flatbread with which to scoop it all up. If you’ve never had this French classic before, Bistrot Bagatelle is the place to try it.

Meat-lovers will want to dive into such Gallic staples as tartare de boeuf, starring hand-cut cured beef tenderloin, with capers, cornichons, truffle and pecorino. It’s a real treat as a precursor to the signature poulet rôti entire à la truffle – that’s a whole, truffled roasted chicken with baby potatoes and chicken jus. A carnivore’s dream. If you love seafood, don’t miss the lobster linguine, it’s a delightful pan of al dente pasta, a whole lobster and a silky tomato sauce that’s perfect sharing date-night food. Staff are super friendly and helpful, too.

Don’t arrive too early, as it will be super quiet, but head here later and the restaurant’s vibe picks up, with almost a club-like atmosphere – pumping music and dim lighting.

For a sophisticated meal in high-end, but unstuffy setting, get yourselves here pronto.

The bottom line
Super-cool spot with excellent food and a great vibe for a late evening dinner.

04 336 4444 Sheikh Zayed Road

This swanky Asian, set high on the 36th floor of The H Dubai, is the ideal place for a fun, swish night out. As soon as you enter you’ll be wowed by the sparkling vistas out from the floor-to-ceiling windows and the classy, low-key vibe.

The signature dishes here should not be missed. The cuisine is “Mediterrasian”, a blend of light, fresh Mediterranean flavours with the bold, powerful tastes of Asia, and the kitchen does this tremendously.

PLAY’s Pita Surprise – baked crispy pita bread filled with wagyu beef and truffle paste, a Time Out Dubai favourite – is a simply stunning dish. Unique, fun and wonderfully indulgent, the crisp crunch of the casing houses a marvellously creamy, smooth filling. The sushi and sashimi are also delightful, fresh and tasty, too.

Main dishes range from entrecôte with café de PLAY butter – a tender cut of meat enhanced by that unique, tasty spread – grilled sea bass and black cod to oven-baked marinated saffron chicken. However, the spaghetti carbonara with veal pancetta made tableside in a giant Parmesan wheel is a showstopper. Not strictly Asian, it’s a dish served with flair and fun, and encapsulates what’s PLAY is all about.

Sit back and take in the ambiance, and don’t arrive too early – this place ramps up later in the evening. Book later to enjoy the top atmosphere alongside those views and that food.

The bottom line:
Creative dishes and striking views

+971 4 384 8484 World Trade Center Area

Stylish Chinese lattice, low mood lighting and sleek wooden furniture set the scene on arrival at Hakkasan, in the iconic Emirates Towers.

The restaurant is candlelit, the gleaming bar is vast and impressive and the feel is cosy and authentic. Hakkasan offers fine dining at its fanciest, and the contemporary Cantonese menu is top notch. The three-time Best Chinese Time Out winner is still a benchmark against which most of its city counterparts can be judged.

Prepare to be bowled over by the roast chicken in satay sauce, which is served in a crispy skin swimming in a thick and flavoursome peanut curry. The stir-fried duck breast with dried chilli and Szechuan peppercorn is bursting with tantalising flavour and the crispy duck rolls are dangerously moreish.
We also recommend trying the dim sum, which is as fresh and juicy as we’ve known it in the entire city and will leave you clamouring for more.

Service, as you might expect, is also flawless, and waiters are efficient and professional.

All of the aforementioned niceties, however, do come at a price, and although you’ll leave thoroughly impressed, your wallets will be considerably lighter. Nevertheless, Hakkasan is stunning overall, and well worth visiting for a truly special occasion.

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