(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
This is my 3rd favourite Indian restaurant in Dubai.
Aangan (in the Dhow Palace hotel) - a name that implies an authentic courtyard - is a truly harmonising stage on the path to culinary enlightenment.
Indian food can go terribly wrong; all smothered in gravy, swimming in oil, choked by spices. Or it can do the great Indian magic trick: balancing flavours, textures & colours.
We entered the dimly lit, wood-finished restaurant at 08:30pm to a flurry of slightly chaotic attention. We were "too early" for authentic dining; a typical pair of "ignorant Westerners" that fail to give-in to the fact that sub-continental dinning starts around 11:00pm ;-) But shortly after our first bottle of Kingfisher (memories of Goa drifted back into my mind...) a large Indian family arrived complete with the visit of a semi-famous Bollywood actress, and a more relaxed mood settled in. There was only one other non-Indian couple in the entire restaurant… an excellent sign of a promising authentic experience.
The 5-man & 1-woman band started humming along to the skillful sitar playing... a bit loud for private conversation, but hey! No curry tastes 100% right without a sitar playing in the background... haha!
"In our culture we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God." - Ravi Shankar.
Favorite Dish: We pondered the medium-size but varied menu; the dishes are explained helpfully for the non-Indian guest... and when in doubt, always ask them to "make it less spicy / mild."
John & Siddharth tucked into the complimentary crispy poppadum, fruity chutneys & mint sauce. For starters we had Paneer Tikka: crispy, hot & well spiced. But the true star was the Aloo Mattar Babycorn Tikki: a delicious potato-pea-corn patty that melts in your mouth... divinity on a plate!
The main courses arrived, and to the last morsel they were a revelation.
> John's Kadai Jhinga (Dhs 80) was creamy & wonderfully aromatic, jumbo prawns bathing in a sea of thick sauce with cardamom, saffron, onions & tomatoes.
> My Fish Curry Noorani was superb, with a chunky sauce & 5 large pieces of juicy fish, cooked to perfection.
> Siddharth's dish of butter-chicken kebabs had the boys grinning with delight.
> And then there was the Dal Makhani – the dish with which I tend judge the quality of an Indian restaurant. This one was a delicious buttery brown, a bit too liquid for my liking by still the ideal partner for a piece of hot & crispy garlic-butter naan (mixed naan platter Dhs 24).
Yes, the dishes cost a bit more: starters range between Dhs 30 - 60, but it comes with the territory: this is a 5-star hotel after all.
Summary: this place is superb for an evening of upmarket Indian dining.
And if you can't finish all the food (which we couldn't) there's no problem with having the surplus packed to take home (which we did)
SEATING: 120 people.
DRESS CODE: Smart-casual.
Opening Hours: Daily 12.30pm - 03.30pm & 07.30pm - 01:00am
(If you're in the mood for something cosier, less posh & slightly cheaper, check-out the Antique Bazar, another of my restaurant tips)
Legends Steak House is located in the clubhouse of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. I do love a good steak, and as Legends was rumoured to serve up some of the best in town, plus it was located close to our hotel, it seemed inevitable we would end up there one night.
We arrived by taxi, and as it turned out the driver dropped us off at the wrong part of the complex. No problem, a golf buggy was arranged to ferry us to the main club building where Legends was located. This was the type of top class service we received the rest of the evening.
The restaurant is housed in a plushly decorated room, perhaps a little too 'mens club' for my taste, but who could fault those large, comfortable chairs. Eating inside, we were unable to enjoy the Dubai Creek views, but am sure the terrace is very popular on summer evenings. We were however, able to enjoy the amiable piano man, who played a mix of Christmas carols and Sinatra classics, though his occasional unusual singing did make us snigger a little.
Favorite Dish: We skipped starters, wanting to get straight to the meat. I am a lightweight, so ordered the small Rib Eye steak with steak cut chips, while Alex ordered the large size Angus Tenderloin steak with fries. Both steaks were excellent, with the Tenderloin the stand out - a melt-in-your-mouth kind of steak, perfectly pink and juicy. A bottle of Californian Cabernet Sauvignon was the perfect accompaniment.
Desserts were beckoning - well we couldn't leave as the piano man hadn't played all of our requests yet. Alex had the Apple Crumble, which he really enjoyed. I had the "Trio of Chocolates", which consisted of two Chocolate truffle tartlets, with chocolate covered ice cream balls and chocolate sauce. I was certainly chocolatey, but not as good as it sounded or looked.
We very much enjoyed our evening at Legends. It has that "special occasion" feel about it, but don't let that put you off, as the prices were reasonable and the service friendly enough to make it feel more relaxed than it looked. And there is that kooky piano man.
You shouldn't miss out on trying some Arabic specialities whilst you're here, but I understand that everyone has their limits when it comes to being adventurous with food (even when I used to eat meat, I never touched things like brain-salad!)
Arabic food in the UAE is heavily influenced by cooking-styles of Lebanon, Eygpt & India. So depending on the restaurant, the same dishes could slightly vary in flavour & ingredients.
Here are some of the most common Arabic foods you'll see on a menu:
Vegetarian Dip of char-grilled eggplant mixed with tahina, olive oil, lemon juice & garlic puree.
This is THE typical Arabic dessert; love it or hate it (it's far too sweet for me) Layered pastry filled with nuts & steeped in honey-lemon syrup - usually cut into triangular or diamond shapes.
BURGHUL: (Bulghur wheat, Bulgar)
Parboiled & dried wheat kernels processed into grain, used in salads & meat dishes.
Arabic Tea; usually black tea with lots of sugar & fresh mint leaves.
(CHEESE) MANAKISH or MANAEESH:
Arabic bread with melted cheese topping. Also available with meat or herbs.
Vegetarian small deep-fried balls made of spiced ground chickpeas... yummy!
Pastry pockets filled with spinach, meat or cheese (ask about the filling)
This is your regular Arabic green (vegetarian)
salad of toasted croutons, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes & mint.
FOUL: (Foul Medammes)
Slow-cooked mash of brown beans & red lentils, dressed with lemon, olive oil & cumin... if you love beans, this is the dish for you! Can sometimes also contain meat or a fried egg.
GAHWA: (Kahwa) Arabic Coffee.
Dessert: Sweet sesame paste, usually made in a slab & studded with fruit & nuts (can also be bought in containers in the supermarket)
Favorite Dish: HAMMOUR:
Red Sea fish of the grouper family & most commonly used fish in the UAE. More info here.
The most famous Arabic dip! Vegetarian puree of chickpeas, tahina, lemon & garlic - grab some Arabic bread and dip-away!
KEBAB: Skewered meat or fish cooked over charcoal.
KIBBEH: Oval-shaped nuggets of ground lamb & burghul.
Vegetarian dish of pasta, rice & lentils with onions, chillies & tomato paste.
Balls or a flat cake of minced meat & spices, baked or charcoal-grilled on skewers.
Tangy-tasting sour milk drink (drinking yoghurt) widely used in cooking or as a refreshing drink.
MEZZE: (Mezzah) The Arabic word for Appetiser.
SHAWERMA (click on photo)
This is the true Arabic name & version of a "doner kebab": A cone of pressed lamb, chicken or beef roasted on a vertical spit where the meat is shaved off from the outside as the spit keeps turning. It's then packed into Arabic bread together with lettuce, onions & tahina.
SHISH TAOUK: Skewered chicken pieces cooked over charcoal.
Vegetarian salad of burghul, tomato, shredded mint & parsley (really gets stuck in your teeth, but it's very refreshing & healthy!)
TAHINA: An oily paste made from ground sesame seeds.
Translated it means "Ali's mother" - this is the Arabic version of a bread & butter pudding, made from Arabic bread soaked in hot milk with coconut, raisins, honey & sometimes nuts... I love it - it's delicious.
Blend of spices including oregano, thyme, marjoram & salt (often used in salads, or sprinkled onto cheesy Arabic bread)
--> Traditionally you will be given a lot of fresh mint leaves & salad with your meal. Arabs chew on the mint throughout and after the meal to freshen their breath & to aid digestion.
(Unlicenced - no alcoholic beverages)
There are 8 branches of Cafe mOre in the city, and most have an inside & outside seating area and one of the most innovative & fabulous menus I've seen around town. (suitable for vegetarians & carnivores alike)
Cafe mOre is modern, affordable & the decor is only slightly pretentious up to bearable levels ;-)
The walls are full of interesting works from local & international up-and-coming artists. The main difference to the numerous other Dubai-eateries is in the style of interaction, the quality of the food & the overall presentation.
They also offer a assortment of its very own breads and pastries - irresistible.
Sit with your WIFI Laptop or PDA , sip espresso... eat cake, indulge in Dubai's number 1 free-time activity: people-watching! and be connected to the world through the broadband wireless internet service.
Favorite Dish: All portions are rather large, so it's great value for money.
The house-made chocolate brownies are a must along with a large hot coffee.
They are also very popular for their all-day breakfast menu.
The Paella with seafood (or chicken) and vegetables is fantastic.
I often order the Seafood Pasta (Marinara) as well. Generous portion!
The aromatic bottomless tomato & mozarella soup comes with fresh bread.
Another favourite of mine: Classic mushroom ragout on green salad.
MORE Cafe even sell their own brand of ice cream.
And for another dessert: Apple & Blueberry Crumble!
In General: I've never had a bad meal here :-)
NOTE: Can get very busy during lunch; you may have to wait for a table.
--> UPDATE January 2008: Smoking indoors is now banned. You can, however, smoke outside on their terrace.
--> UPDATE 2009: Another Cafe More has opened in the Gold & Diamond Park on Sheikh Zayed Road.
--> UPDATE 2010: Another Cafe More has opened in the Fashion Avenue in Dubai Mall.
--> UPDATE 2011: And another one! The newest branch can be found in the DIFC (Dubai Int'l Financial Centre.)
--> UPDATE 2012: Friday & Saturday Brunch Buffet: 95 Dirhams per person... very popular!
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages.)
Once again, the Towers Rotana Hotel does not disappoint: After "Long's Bar" (see my nightlife tip) and "Teatro's" (see separate restaurant tip) this is one of their newest eateries, and once again I am glad to say that they got it right.
Sleek & chic... modern & sophisticated... the interiors in this place are stimulating, but not too much too distract from the excellent food. Families are welcome, but they don't come: small children (thankfully) don't mix with this atmosphere.
Dubai's 4- & 5-star hotels are renown for their glutinous & highly popular "all-you-can-eat-and-drink" buffets. Usually, most buffet-offers in Dubai are great value for money, but not necessarily great quality & taste. I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed by the variety & quality of food on offer. We first visited to celebrate a friend's birthday and enjoyed the international buffet. Service was impeccable: I ordered a vodka with bitter lemon, John had beer, and whenever our glasses had a mere 2 sips remaining another drink appeared without having to ask for it. (Aaaah! What a welcome relief from the usual abysmal service of many of Dubai's so-called "5-star restaurants!")
Also surprising was the array of dishes... the restaurant isn't trying to make a huge profit by serving "cheap" food: smoked salmon, mussels, king prawn & co. graced the starters section of the buffet. In the main courses: roast beef of turkey, sushi & sashimi, grilled salmon, freshly prepared pasta dishes, steaks & sausages as well as superb stir fries were on offer. And in the dessert section, behold! A gorgeous chocolate fountain, fresh strawberries, various cakes, creme brulee and a fantastic cheese-platter.
We enjoyed the experience so much that John will soon be bringing all of his work colleagues here, and I'm planning to bring guests here in the future.
Favorite Dish: If you are looking for a "stuff-your-face-and-intoxicate-yourself" offer that doesn't only provide value, but also highest food quality & taste, Flavours on Two is for you!
THEME NIGHTS: (price update April 2011)
Saturdays: International Flavours (169 Dhs)
Sundays: Grill & Rotisserie - Meat, Poultry & Seafood (169 Dhs)
Mondays: Far East & Indian Flavours (169 Dhs)
Tuesdays: Flavours from Blighty - best of British (169 Dhs)
Wednesdays: Flavours from the Ocean (189 Dhs)
Thursdays & Fridays: Viva Italia! Antipasti & fresh pasta (179 Dhs)
Opening Hours: Dinner 07:00pm - 11:30pm.
RESERVATIONS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Dec. 2007: we celebrated our staff Xmas Dinner here & everyone loved it ;-)
--> Prices quoted are per person & inclusive of 20% fees & service charge, plus UNLIMITED house wine, beers & regular spirits.
To see the restaurant virtually, click here: http://www.rotana.com/propertyvt-20-10-4-0.htm#vt
Since May 2012 this restaurant is closed, as the Metropolitan Hotel has been demolished to make way for a new hotel. I am keeping this tip here to inform of the fact.
(Licensed - Serves Alcoholic Beverages)
Dubai is notorious for having plenty of outdoor restaurants that come with a free side-order of car fumes & accompanying sound-effect of traffic; but Don Corleone's is a world away from that: surrounded by illuminated palm trees, green grass & the occasional lazy fat cat walking past your chair.
This is one of the city's little hidden gems that has been quietly tucked away in the hotel's gardens for years, unchanged by Dubai's usually modernising touches & glamorous makeovers: Here, what you see is what you get and it is simply beautiful.
Don Corleone is cosily-kitschy on the inside, with obligatory red-chequered table cloths & fake grapes hanging from the ceiling, but also has a big terrace if you enjoy eating alfresco on cooler nights - this is a great place to enjoy the warm Dubai evenings before the brutality of summer chases us indoors.
The speakers are usually showering your ears with "Godfather-esque" tunes & some Italian favourites that add perfectly to the general mood, but never too loud to disturb your conversation.
Favorite Dish: The prices are reasonable for both food & drink; the portions are just right. It's unpretentious, always good quality & the staff is knowledgeable & attentive.
TIP: All of the above make this place very popular, so remember to make reservations.
Try the Risotto with Salmon & Asparagus, or one of their gorgeous crispy pizzas with traditional or unique toppings (my friend Amir (VTer 37SingleMaleinDubai1) was in love with this pizza! Haha!) There are plenty of vegetarian options & the staff are very helpful if you want to "customise" certain dishes on the menu. John absolutely loves their CALZONE Pizza, for which you can choose your preferred filling. For a 2-course dinner for 2 people (without drinks) we usually pay Dhs 250 (approx. 70 US $).
--> UPDATE April 2008: Try their new Friday Brunch Special: from 11am - 4pm, live cooking stations Dhs. 120 (drinks not included).
It's also in a pretty easy-to-reach location, which is important in today's traffic-crazy city! This was also our choice for a VT Meeting in April 2006. Click here for the pictures.
Lunch: 12:30 pm - 03:00pm
Dinner: 07:00pm - midnight.
When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine
You're in love...
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
Teatro is located in the Towers Rotana Hotel. Once you step out of the elevator it feels like stepping from a busy city street into a chic Manhattan eatery... a refreshing change amongst the numerous restaurants in Dubai!
Inside, the decor is modern, leaning towards minimalist, with a large glassed-in wine store (don't ask about the strange curtains of glass goldfish...) & the walls adorned with framed black & white photographs of old movie stars.
Looking through the menu caused some confusion at our table at first, as there is a rather huge selection, and you are literally "spoilt for choice"!
There are different dishes from many parts of the world: Italian, Indian, Thai, Singaporean, Indonesian, Japanese, and American. The set menus (named after famous plays) are the perfect choice for someone who wants to try a bit of everything.
Teatro is a total experience "signature" restaurant of interesting fusions: Chefs at various open cooking stations prepare plates of sushi, pasta, pizza, spicy noodles and roasts in clay Tandoors, to wood-burning pizza oven and a rotisserie.
May I suggest having a drink at the great long bar before proceeding to your table: the excellent service of the friendly & knowledgeable bartenders (I quote: "I make Cosmopolitans just like the girls in "Sex in the City" would love them…!") make it a place to hang out and watch Dubai enjoy itself.
The restaurant's only disadvantage seems to be that it always becomes very noisy later on in the night. It almost seems that the staff turn up the volume of the ambient music to compete with the every increasing number of diners. Maybe not the perfect spot for a romantic candlelight dinner, but definitely a great place to meet with friends or work colleagues!
Nevertheless, you'll leave satisfied and pleased to have spent an evening in a place that can be described as a separate, new, different, little world within the city.
Favorite Dish: For starters, I recommend the lobster bisque which is hot, creamy and full of flavour!
The vegetable spring rolls are also one of my firm favourites; 6 pieces served with a lovely mango & Dijon mustard sauce.
As a main course, their pasta dishes won't really amaze you, but have enough flavour & texture to deserve a 70% rating. The mixed grilled seafood platter is a perfect sized portion, with juicy (not overcooked!) pieces of lobster, prawn, salmon and scallops.
Their pizzas are also wonderful & crispy, with unusual & inventive toppings.
For desert, their signature desert is scrumptious: Sizzling chocolate brownie, served on a hot plate with vanilla ice cream and sizzling sauce... oh, the indulgence! If you're full from dinner, share this desert with someone... but you MUST try it.
Opening Hours: 06:00pm - 02:00am.
TIP: Try their Early Bird Special:
you receive 50% off your food bill if you order before 07:00pm. They do, however, need the table back again at around 08:30pm.
(Unlicenced - no alcoholic beverages)
I've eaten sushi many times before, but never in the true conveyor-belt style. So I must admit, the prospect of seeing my food driving past me was the main reason for trying this establishment!
Yo! has already proved a deeply successful formula in London, whose population has clasped the raw-fish-on-a-conveyor-belt motif firmly to its collective bosom; and never wanting to be "out of style", Dubai was not far behind to follow this phenomenon.
Sushi has the reputation of being "healthy fast food" for the executive with the hectic lifestyle. So we arrived after such an aforementioned hectic day at work, sat down at the counter & suddenly I felt myself being mesmerised by the little round dishes with plastic domes, slowly drifting past me on the conveyor belt... uuuuiiihhh! How cute!
You can endulge on Green Tea & Miso Soup (tofu, seaweed & vegetable broth) until it's coming out of your ears - free refills all the way.
Either order from the menu, or snatch & savour any of the dishes driving past you on the conveyor belt. Pricing is done by colour-coded plates (orange, purple, etc.), starting at Dhs 8,- and not exceeding Dhs 18,- and don't worry about catching any weird food-bug from the raw goods: the food is prepared freshly throughout the day & none of the fish is on the conveyor belt for longer than 2 hours.
Favorite Dish: >> (Poached) Kimchee Salmon Salad in a lime, red pepper & herb dressing - my favourite!
>> California rolls, Nigiri Sake (salmon sushi), Unagi (BBQ Eel) & shrimp sushi all yummy, fresh, tasty with perfect sticky rice.
>> If you fancy something hot & cooked (I still haven't been able to convert my husband into a fan of raw cuisine) definitely try the Teriyaki Salmon or Chicken, the Miso Hamour, the breaded Prawn Katsu and the lovely, thick & chewy Udon Noodles with your choice of chicken, shrimp or vegetables... and Tempura!
I've been here numerous times and both quality & quantity have always been consistent. Take-away is also available.
NOTE: This is a non-smoking restaurant.
Opening Hours: Saturdays to Thursdays: 11:30am - 11:00pm.
Fridays: 02:00pm - 11:00pm.
--> UPDATE NOVEMBER 2007: Our favourite Yo!Sushi branch, now open at Dubai Festival city, with both indoor and outdoor seating!
--> UPDATE 2010: Yo!Sushi is now also based on the lower level of the Dubai Mall.
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
There are 3 German restaurants in Dubai, all adhering to the full cliche of Lederhosen, huge beers, rich food, cheesy decor and overpowering "omp-pa-pah" music.
Any German tourist would cringe, turn on his heels & run to save his sanity & dignity, but for expatriates like me originally from "good old Deutschland" - homesickness is our excuse for loving this Bavarian Hofbrauhaus.
Located inside the town square level of the JW Marriott Hotel the facade looks typically German, with the Bavarian blue&white-chequered curtains and wooden shutters.
There aren't many vegetarian options on the buffet but that's typical for German food. The Sauerkraut was excellent: not too sour, not too sweet. Elsewhere in the calorie-heavy selection John & our friends thoroughly enjoyed the various types of sausages (including Weisswurst!) & other beef & pork dishes. I was content with the complimentary buttery & chewy Brezeln, as well as "Rollmops" (pickled herring) from the salad buffet, creamy mashed potatoes, salads with gherkins and grilled leeks in cream sauce with big beans.
Favorite Dish: I loved the particularly scrumptious Weissbier (30 Dhs for 1/2 litre) but they also have Lager (55 Dhs for 1 litre) that is indeed air-freighted from Germany - made by the original Hofbrauhaus brewery in Munich, which dates back to 1589.
(October 2010 Prices) Regular buffet costs Dhs 180. Buffet including unlimited wines and HB Beer is Dhs 365.- per person.
I rate this as the best German eatery in the city.
Despite the odd bland dish the food is excellent & plentyful, prepared by German chefs & is especially scrumptious during special buffet promotions.
I've visited many times before: call them to see on what nights you'll be treated to (or punished with) live music. After all, it's not always loud here! But during Oktoberfest, if you want to have a nice conversation, go somewhere else or don't complain - this is what Oktoberfest is like: loud, proud & silly!
After dinner, most patrons start singing traditional drinking & folk songs together with the big-bosomed Dirndl-duo, and dancing along is always encouraged. Don't take yourself too seriously and come to the Hofbrauhaus!
Opening Hours: Daily from 06:00pm-02:00am.
Other German restaurants:
> BRAUHAUS at Jumeirah Rotana Hotel (small, overpriced, mostly bad food).
> DER KELLER at Jumeirah Beach Hotel (expensive and yet not really authentic)
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
One of my all-time favourites in Dubai (also because we won a trip to Seville at this very restaurant!), Seville's is located in the Pyramids-complex of Wafi City in Bur Dubai. We come here regularly, especially during the cooler winter months when you can dine al-fresco.
Either sit at the bar, dine inside at their rustic tables or enjoy their large outside terrace with another seperate bar & great views of the Wafi gardens (be kind & share some of your meal with the loveable Wafi-cats that live in these gardens.)
During your meal, enjoy the great sounds of the 2 Spanish guitarists (well, actually they're from Azerbaijan). The menu is extensive, with either small tapas or good-sized main course portions. Some vegetarian options are also available. The restaurant has indoor & outdoor seating; a beautiful setting amongst the in famous Wafi rooftop gardens.
TIP: Seville's is hugely popular, so it's best to make reservations for dinner, especially if you want to sit outside!
Favorite Dish: If you love tapas, then this is the place to be!
For starters, order a selection of the tapas (the portions are small, only 4-5 pcs each) and share with your friends! I recommend the pork sausages in cider (back in my meat-eating days they were my favourite), potato croquettes with either vegetable or ham filling, prawns in garlic oil, roast potatoes in spicy sauce, mussels baked & breaded in creamy sauce & aromatic tomato-garlic bread :-)
As a main course, you simply can't beat their best Paella in town (available with meat, seafood or veggies) Make sure that you order early enough as preparation time for the Paella is approx. 30-45 minutes.
For dessert, try the "Gypsy's Arm" - the Spanish version of a Swiss roll with cream & fruit. Another favourite is the flavoured custard.
TUESDAYS: "Chica's Night - 2 free drinks for ladies.
UPDATE August 2008: Seville's runs a special dinner deal: 1 Paella for 2 persons to share, including 4 glasses of Sangria or a bottle of house wine for only Dhs 99.-
Opening Hours: Saturdays - Wednesdays 12midday - 02:00am.
Thursdays & Fridays 12midday - 03:00am.
Balmy days, sweet sangria
she's been gone, have you seen her?
senorita, shyly turning away
leaving me your fading flame.
"Sweet Sangria" - Tori Amos
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
If you are a seafood-lover looking for something truly inspirational, delicious, romantic & stylish you simply have to try Pier Chic at the Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah.
Located off the beach in front of the Al Qasr Hotel, the restaurant is accessed via a 5-minute stroll along the wooden pier. I think this must be one of Dubai's most unique restaurant locations:
Dine seated above the waves with an excellent view of the famous Burj Al Arab, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and of course, the magnificent complex that is the Madinat Jumeirah.
There are underwater lights below the pier, and the bar reminds of ice-cubes - constantly changing colour - lending an otherworldly glow throughout the evening.
The staff were friendly, funny & knowledgable, helping you to find the best choice from their menu and not shying-away from "special requests". It's a very up-market place, but the waiters are in no way snobby and made us feel comfortable & able to enjoy a great evening under the stars to the sound of breaking waves.
Gentlemen, if you want to impress your special lady: this is the place to be! (I've actually recommended this restaurant to quite a few gentlemen who wanted to propose to their girlfriend in a special place... so far, they've all said 'yes'... haha!)
Favorite Dish: I haven't sampled much of the menu so far, but the salmon steak is scrumptious, as well as the crab cakes with an exotic side salad for starters. John really enjoyed his skewer with various fish cubes and lemongrass as well.
Ask your waiter about the region's own fish species (i.e. Hammour=Grouper, Barracuda, etc.) and also about imported, seasonal specials.
Their signature cocktails are all equally scrumptious.
UPDATE 2009: We've been back to Pier Chic this year and can honestly say that this is still one of the city's best addresses for fresh seafood, innovative cuisine and excellent service.
UPDATE 2010: Winner of Best Romantic and Best Seafood Restaurant,, Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2010.
(Unlicensed - no alcoholic beverages)
Restaurants in malls make most people crinkle their noses in disgust & run for the exit; but in Dubai a strange culinary phenomenon is taking place: small, understated gems are popping-up in unsuspecting corners of large malls, promising AND delivering fantastic food in an unusually stimulating environment.
Almaz by Momo (Almaz means "diamond" in Arabic) is one of these secret gems (sister restaurant to a fancy London eatery) tucked away in the furthest corner of the Harvey Nichols store in Mall of the Emirates.
Upon entering we did a double-take: is this a cocktail bar? A cheesy Marrakesh-theme? A secret grotto for wealthy trend-setters? The interiors can be quite overpowering at first; with low ceiling lights, detailed emblems on the tables, a glittery sky (oh! Is it a nightclub?) and that strange invisible door that leads to the glossy-black toilets. During our visit no more than 20 people were in the restaurant, and the staff were quick to realize that turning down the music volume would be much appreciated by all.
This is quite a large place: cushions, curtains & fancy furniture sprawling over several open plan rooms covering 600 square meters. There's a nice open kitchen & different sections for private parties, Sheesha smoking, the juice bar, etc.
We started our meal with some complimentary olives; their flavour did the trick & made us curious about the menu, which isn't large but certainly sufficient. I doubtfully sipped at my alcohol-free champagne fizz with fresh berries... 30 Dhs seems a bit pricy, but it was different & tasted nice.
Favorite Dish: Their list of non-alcoholic wines & beers is mind-boggling. I decided to stick with mineral water to avoid further confusion and looked at the food... my mother chose the Tagine of Lamb and I opted for the Tagine of Hammour (grouper fish) with couscous (60 Dhs each). A tagine is made from glazed earthenware with a conical lid. The food is both cooked & presented in this dish.
My mother absolutely loved her meal, which had been slowly cooked with prunes & pears to create delectable melting pieces of meat. My fish tasted amazing, including the subtle flavours of cinnamon & cloves with the intense colours of tomato & olive. The couscous was light, fluffy & perfectly cooked. Complimentary slices of breads arrived, and we fell silent: when the food is *this* good, conversation will just have to wait until that after-dinner Marlboro Light! :-)
The dessert menu looked enticing, but we were too full. We opted for a simple cup of coffee which was very nice. They have a large selection of exotic teas, including of course Moroccan Mint, etc. The restaurant also has a small take-away menu including the most popular tagine dishes, traditional Moroccan soup and a large variety of pastries.
TIP: And if you are really gagging for that after-dinner Baileys or cocktail, head across to the Kempinksi Hotel adjacent to the mall.
This is a fantastic place with great food & a lot of atmosphere; suitable for a romantic dinner, a meal with friends, or simply a relaxed coffee to escape the craziness of the mall for an hour... or two... I'm definitely coming back!
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 10:00am - 12midnight.
(1 US Dollar = 3.67 Dirhams)
--> Update 2nd visit: as a starter, I can also recommend the Hammour Fishcakes with fruity chutney.
--> Update 3rd visit: This time I sat in the sheesha smoking section... and nearly collapsed from oxygen deprivation! I'd rather recommend smoking sheesha in one of Dubai's many outdoor venues instead.
(Unlicensed - no alcoholic beverages).
In Buddhism, Fudo is the principal deity of the 5 angry Lords of Light. This Buddhist divinity looks quite scary as he slashes away material connections with his flaming sword & ties-up evil-doers with his rope of fire... I'm not sure if the restaurant management is aware of theire namesake, but at least it didn't put me off ;-)
FUDO is different & a welcome addition to Jumeirah's culinary scene, especially in the cooler winter months (Nov. - April) when you can sit outside & enjoy the mesmerizing water feature. The menu is huge & can be rather daunting for indecisive patrons like myself, but at least the variety will ensure that everyone at your table should be able to find something to satisfy their particular craving.
The waiters seem a bit dreamy-eyed, not really listening to you (gosh, I hate repeating myself...) but in the end all is usually in order. The decor is a bit confusing & it's best not to try & analyze the mind of the disturbed interior designer who decided fish bones, goldfish in tiny bowls of solitary confinement and cow's skins (where's PETA when you need them?!) would work well with photos of beautiful but underprivileged children & refugees.
Favorite Dish: This restaurant offer dishes from Thailand, Italy, Lebanon & Japan with comprehensive sections (albeit many spelling mistakes) in their large menu. The food always seems fresh & flavourful and so far I've come across more good than bland dishes. Presentation is fancy enough to please Jamie Oliver, and don't forget to try some of their gorgeous herbal teas. Try the grilled Salmon on a bed of crispy lettuce accompanied by grilled vegetables. The Pad Thai rice noodles with seafood in a light soy & spiced sauce, and their thin & crispy Pizzas.
I haven't found any of their desserts to be particularly palate-pleasing at all; best to wander across to Mercato Mall for dessert!
All in all: a lovely place for enjoying some good food, stylish surroundings & in the cooler months, sit outside on sofas under the stars and enjoy a nice smokin' Sheesha, along with some live music (acoustic guitarist) and very reasonable prices! Unfortunately, service can sometimes be incredibly inefficient & stupid.
Opening Hours: Saturday to Tuesday 12:00noon - 12midnight.
Wednesday to Friday 12:00noon - 01:00am
SINCE JANUARY 2011 THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED. I'M LEAVING THIS TIP HERE TO INFORM OF THIS FACT.
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
Even though Scarlett's is located in the overly-posh Emirates Towers business hotel, the prices are relatively reasonable & the atmosphere is positively non-snobby. It was also the winner of the "Dubai What’s On Awards": Best Bar 2003.
This is one of Dubai's typical venues that can't seem to decide whether it's a pub, restaurant or night club. In this order, it transitions throughout the day from a few patrons sipping Guinness and Gin & Tonics at the bar; to couples, friends or families dining on the delicious food; to a loud, crowded & hot nightspot with a small dance floor; bodies rubbing against bodies in a struggle to reach the bar, the rest rooms or the exit.
The decor is equally schizophrenic: "am I a sports bar, a fancy cocktail lounge or a cheesy Colonial dining room reminiscing about the American civil war?"
Anywayz, who cares about the wall paper whilst you're chomping down a plate of shrimp & chilli pasta accompanied by a delicious cocktail?
Main courses usually consist of mostly well-heaped plates of gorgeous aromatic food, a fusion of British pub-grub & Creole favourites.
Favorite Dish: I recommend the mushroom & angelhair pasta, flavoured with chilli flakes & fresh parmesan. John loves the burgers, and any dish with shrimp is a winner in this place! And if you have any space left, tuck into some dessert favourites such as Mississippi Mudpie and Brownie Delight.
Happy Hour: Daily from 05.00pm - 08.00pm a selection of beverages is yours with 2 for the price of one.
--> Check their website for daily special events!
Opening Hours: Daily 12.30pm-03:00am. Last food order at 11.30pm.
Children are welcome until 11.00pm & there is a children's menu.
Dress Code: Smart-casual. beach wear, shorts & sandals not permitted.
(Licensed - serves alcoholic beverages)
This is my absolute favourite Italian restaurant in Dubai! It's always at the top of my birthday-dinner wish-list - Cucina's at the JW Marriott Hotel.
Its decor is rustic & cosy, with a proper pizza-oven, antipasti buffet, an upstairs seating area & great service. Approximately every 1/2 hour the waiters (mostly Philipinos, a nationality that loves to sing!) break into songs such as "Santa Lucia" or "Buenna Sera" to add to the wonderful atmosphere.
If you want to spoil yourself to a lovely Italian dinner with some entertainment on the side in a great atmosphere, then Cucina's is the place for you: great for a romantic dinner, or for an evening with friends or family. Prices are reasonable & the menu extensive, suiting every taste & budget.
TIP: All restaurants in the hotel proudly offer their unique Birthday-Promotion:
If you dine in one of their restaurants & bring your ID , the birthday girl/boy receives a complimentary 3-course dinner! (drinks not included)
Favorite Dish: As a starter, John loves their carpaccio. I recommend the mussels in white wine & garlic sauce (click on the photo to see the picture)
For main courses their pizzas are fantastic, as well as the risotto & chef's specials and for dessert try their "Spaghetti-Icecream" (most Germans are familiar with this treat) consisting of vanilla ice cream & fresh fruit sauce... yummy!
This restaurant has plenty of vegetarian options as well. Try the tagliatelle with Porcini mushrooms & asparagus, or the wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil. Their pizzas are made fresh and baked in their inhouse pizza oven: thin, crispy and full of flavour - just like a perfect pizza should be.
INSIDER TIP: If you are into dessert-drinks, try their unique Coppa della Amicizia (Friendship Bowl) for up to 4 people: it's a 100-year old tradition: a wooden pot with 4 spouts, consisting of hot coffee with flambeed grappa & sambuca, orange & lemon peel & spices - it's amaaaaazing.
Friday afternoons is great for kids, as they can make their own pizza.
--> RESERVATIONS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead.
We'll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place.
You and I - face to face hmmm, hmmm.
A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite.
I'll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant.
"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" - Billy Joel.