Ten unique restaurants in Dubai

Time Out has a list of ten unique restaurants in Dubai, including weird and special dining experiences you have to try

04 426 2626 Palm Jumeirah

There are three things you should know about Ossiano. One, wait for payday because it’s pricey. Two, it’s fancy, so make an effort. And three, it’s pretty much perfect.

Few Dubai restaurants offer a true (arguably classic) fine-dining experience. Ossiano does. The experience is the right side of “stuck-up” (we’ll call it elegant, like the dress code). Expect to be greeted by a dimly lit, impeccably arranged dining room, with a floor-to-ceiling aquarium providing a mesmerising centrepiece.

Staff are pristinely presented, not a shirt wrinkle or ill-fitting collar in sight. The service is intelligent and attentive. Here you’re more than a customer, you’re a lovingly cared-for guest (the restaurant knows this is a place for special occasions).

On our most recent visit, we opt for, and recommend, The Experience Menu, where you choose between four, five and seven courses – whatever you (and your bank) can stomach. You can go à la carte, but why would you? This place is spectacular and you should dive in – face-first.

Once you and your bank manager decide on the number of courses, you’ll be treated to some of the finest seafood and service in the Middle East. Despite a long menu, every dish is a star. Oysters, scallops, cod, foie gras, beetroot ravioli (even the cheeseboard) are all wonderfully balanced, beautifully presented and intricately, expertly described when served.

It’s a magical couple of hours and on reflection there’s only one thing you should know. That is, if we could, we’d eat here every week. It’s that good.

The bottom line
Go.

Enigma opened with a truly unique idea. The head chef would change every three months, each one would be one of the world’s top 50, and each would overhaul the dining room, as well as the menu. First was Quique Dacosta, a Spaniard with a penchant for dramatic presentation. He was followed by Swedish chef Björn Frantzén, a pioneer of minimalist, Nordic cuisine. Now, there is Yunus Emre Aydin, who has been given a longer reign in the kitchen. He isn’t one of the world’s top 50 but the restaurant has found its most consistent performer yet. It’s a cosy venue, staff are also more laid-back than you might expect for the lofty destination and prices are reasonable given the setting and quality. We start with mezze. Hot fresh bread is perfect with the excellent dips. Of the hot starters, the octopus is perhaps the best in the city. Slow-cooked then charred, it comes with avocado mousse and crisp leaves. It’s sublime. Grilled anchovies are sandwiched between thin slices of bread and fried, served with a fennel salad. It’s salty, greasy and refreshing. Mains stand on the merits of the amazing meat. The lamb neck, slow-cooked and spiced is tender and tasty, while the hearty beef cheek is a rich hunk of deliciousness.

Dining in the world’s highest restaurant will never be anything less than thrilling. Thankfully the food wows as much as the setting. A business lunch option offers real value while on an evening set menus are the order of the day. The menu is European based in classic French cooking, using top ingredients. Everything looks excellent, the produce is the very best quality and the tastes are incredible. Service is also good. It might be a once-a-year treat for most people but it is a brilliant night if so.

American +971 4 3388552 Jumeirah 3

Ever eaten dinner in a waxworks museum? No? Ever fancied it? Probably not. A sallow-featured Daniel Craig, a steely stared Amitabh Bachchan and a proportionally dubious George Clooney are just some of the disquieting sights that seem unlikely to change your mind at Dubai’s Taste of Fame restaurant. It’s intriguing, then, that this flashy, Hollywood-inspired American (and apparently Asian and Italian) restaurant has become so popular with the local Jumeirah crowd.

While much of the city guffawed on social media about the comical lack of similarity between the restaurant’s famous characters and the stars, past and present, on whom they’re based, punters have apparently been pouring into the Sunset Mall restaurant at surprising pace. Even more surprising given that what’s being delivered
by the kitchen is as mediocre as the diorama.

On our last visit, one busy Wednesday night, big groups clustered together over their enormous dinners. Our confidence bolstered, we perused the confused menu of everything from pasta to sushi, and ordered a combination of American classics and more experimental options, choosing a couple of signature dishes.

The Taste of Fame-recommended tuna salad arrived topped with nicely seared but off-puttingly fatty fish, with thick white stripes scoring the flesh and the whole thing overwhelmed by a nest of slippery, oily leaves. A second, fussily arranged plate of tiny, overcooked-to-rubber scallops was swiftly cast aside. Nevertheless, we threw optimistic thoughts out to the universe in the hope that our more American mains would come through and pull us from the brink of disaster, in the manner of one of the Hollywood superheroes nearby.

One slice into the premium US fillet steak confirmed our fears. What had clearly, ten minutes previously, been a lovely piece of meat had been criminally overcooked, far beyond the rare we’d requested – and, judging by an incision in its side, checked by the chef and sent out anyway. The towering cheeseburger was just the wrong side of pleasurably greasy, though well-seasoned, correctly cooked and generous in size – but it was much too little, far too late.

With that, and any intrigue we might have had about the dessert menu extinguished, we got the bill. There’s no happy ending to this brush with Hollywood, and we certainly hope there are no calls for a sequel.

The bill (for two)
x1 tuna salad Dhs45
x1 scallops Dhs45
1x TOF cheeseburger Dhs75
1x premium US fillet Dhs190
1x juice Dhs20
1x large local water Dhs15
Total (excluding service) Dhs390

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