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wgallois

Good and bad in Dubai

132 posts in this topic

I never liked Burj al Arab exept for the outside architecture. It is for me too much in your face affair and the only time I stayed there was to have a personal valet assigned to the suite (which is the house rule) and who started unpacking my stuff to my horror and the horror of my GF. Their food outlets are at par with other establishment in Dubai and you just feel that someone is watching you all the time and I hate to have waiters gravitating around the table and refilling the glass even if you simply glance at it! I did advise the head honcho who is a personal friend, but this is his way of running both hotels and I must admit that the man is very good. But I don't stay there anymore.

Last time I had dinner at Retro was a kind of muted affair.

It was a weekday and we arrived late as we mostly do and there were only two or three tables occupied.

We had a set menu that kept on coming and my GF who was not too much hungry did put me off eating. Specially when served with a menu item of scallops or was it foie gras and she would not touch it. The things you have to suffer with ladies!

Anyway the service was excellent and they brought me, without prompting, a very nice cigar ashtray to rest my cigar. The ashtray was part of a promotion by either Moet et Chandon or some other French Champagne and was just the part but I was not allowed to take it home. Big Sighhhhh

I did enjoy the menu, the service and the setting but I am not too thrilled with the entrance to the restaurant and the view overlooking the left over pool and far beach.

Coffee was good though and they did have the long matches for lighting cigars but I don't use matches...


Edited by Almass (log)

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Just back from Dubai.

Ate everywhere as it is my job to do so.

Absolute high light - Retro, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi

Restaurant is a bit dated and they are set for a renovation.

Food is by far the best in town. Be ready for an adventure.

Stephane (ex NYC) and Ex Chef Anston are powering

Best all around experience - Vu's at Emirates Towers

Excellent experience, excellent food, just a little classical compared to Retro.

Nancy is doing an unbelievable job there.

Big let down - Al Mahara, Burj Al Arab

Dated service, generally very average food.

New Chef de Cuisine on the way soon, they have been without one for several months

Nice surprise

Zheng He at Madinat

Worth a visit if in the area

Rib Room at Emirates Towers

Excellent but basic steakhouse style food.

Very good service.

FYI - all outlets in Royal Mirage have high standard food, the Arabic Court in the new section is a very nice place to hang out, drink tea, eat fruit and smoke Sheesha.

It's full oflocals and that is always a good sign.


CHEF JOBS UPDATE - September 07 !!

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Thanks so much for posting! I love Retro food too and like to hear first hand accounts of other places.

I recently had a nice casual late lunch at ITSU at the Marina. They have a great menu with interesting Japanese (and a few Italian seafood dishes?!). The dishes we had were really good.

And I'm thrilled to tell this story. A month ago we decided we wanted to do one of the drinks packages at the Skyview Bar at the Burj Al Arab. We enjoyed ourselves but the canapes were sad. I wrote that on a comment card and got called back by (I think) the manager of catering there. He invited us back for drinks and canapes on the house. I wasn't expecting great things and was blown away. :smile:

We got all the free drinks we wanted and 3 courses of nibblies not including the normal nuts and olives. Had a big tray of deluxe canapes, some mini hot soup servers and even a dessert. We were well taken care of by the bar manager including a tour of one of their rooms (they're all suites). I couldn't believe how wonderful they were and as a consequence would definitely go back. I love good service!


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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I am not surprised in the least and this is very typical of the iron fist of the Irish gentleman (name witheld) who runs the whole place. He is professional to an extreme and has no problem on calling on top professional people to sort out any problem.

He is a man who spends more time on the floor than in his office and I remember him showing me around one of the hotels he used to run and as we went into the suites for a look/see, he had housekeeping follow us to redo each pristine room we simply visited. I would not be surprised if you get a follow up letter.

I had a disagreable experience at Verre and yet to receive any acknowledgment of our complaint. I think Verre sucks. You know why, because the staff from Maitre d' to the plongeur simply work there and do not enjoy their job and this reflects on a restaurant without a soul and with cardboard cut out dishes.

The dishes look nice, they pay nice so they must be nice? Hughh?

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Arbuclo,

I have a huge belated thanks to give you as your information helped me to enjoy Dubai so much more than I would have.

Absolute high light - Retro, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi

Restaurant is a bit dated and they are set for a renovation.

Food is by far the best in town. Be ready for an adventure.

Stephane (ex NYC) and Ex Chef Anston are powering

We went here on our first night and completely idiotic of me, I left my notes in the hotel. I have pictures of every dish we ate but no longer much of an idea as to what those dishes were called, so I'm not going to post them.

I was shocked to see that it was Stephane helming the kitchen. My husband and I know him from NY when he opened a restaurant called Suba. Retro takes him one step farther in ability and ambition. We enjoyed it, but I still don't think Stephane is at the top of his game. I think he's got great potential and he's being very innovative but the quality of the food and/or his technique is not there yet.

I don't mean to be negative, I agree with everyone else, its definitely one of the best restaurants in Dubai.

My favorite meal of the trip was at Chandelier, I'd eat there again and again if I were living there. I really enjoyed it, not just the wonderful food but the atmosphere, people, service, and of course their luscious juices and the sheesh. Exactly the kind of meal I wanted to eat in Dubai.

We went to Fatafeet which I actually found to be mediocre to poor.

And had a lovely Persian meal at... darn it, those notes were so important to my memory! In one of the hotels there is an upscale Persian restaurant.... I think it was in the Hyatt?

Arbuclo or Chef's Office if you happen to have the menu from May and can post it here, I'll use that as my reference and post pics of all the dishes. Other than that I can only apologize for my faulty memory.

When I come again I'm going to seek out more Lebanese and Persian!

I did come back with a load of spices -sumak, zaatar, lemon powder, etc. Still not sure what to do with the sumak! Except eat it straight, I love the sour tang. And soon I intend to try my hand at yoghurt making.

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And had a lovely Persian meal at... darn it, those notes were so important to my memory!  In one of the hotels there is an upscale Persian restaurant.... I think it was in the Hyatt?

The Hyatt Regency has a Persian restaurant called "Shahrzad ". and The Intercontinental hotel has also a very nice Persian restaurant called "Shabestan".

I did come back with a load of spices -sumak, zaatar, lemon powder, etc.  Still not sure what to do with the sumak!  Except eat it straight, I love the sour tang.  And soon I intend to try my hand at yoghurt making.

Try Sumak with a Fattoush salad (coarse cut cucumbers-tomatoes-lettuce-parsley-mint leaves-onions-mashed garlic-Arabic stale or toasted bread-EVOO-Lemon juice-S/P and Sumaak).

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Akiko, thanks so much for posting. Unfortunately I don't have the menu from May at Retro. How cool that you've experienced the chef before and could see how he'd changed. I'm definitely going to go again in August.

I was very interested to hear your review of Fatafeet. I haven't read anything bad about it but I haven't talked to anyone who has personally gone; my info has only been from publications. I won't rush there now.


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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I recently went to Marrakech at the Shangri La.

We had an excellent private-ish booth for 2 sorta like in the picture in the restaurant link but we had bench seating along the wall. We were up the end of the restaurant where the live music was originating.

The best dish we had was the lamb meatball tagine, which is described in the article above about the restaurant. I also wanted to try couscous here. I always use the instant method of preparing couscous (let it sit for 5 minutes in hot water or broth) but they prepare theirs here using extended steaming periods. I wanted to see if the effort was worth it after reading about it in the Middle East thread. I decided it was good but I'm just has happy with the fast way to cook it at home. It was a wonderful setting and a great evening.


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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I also was privileged to be able to go to a most fantastic eco-resort here called Al Maha. (Maha means oryx which are extinct in the wild but are being bred on the reserve.) The experience was absolutely wonderful but I should talk about the food there, shouldn't I?

All meals are included in the price so it could be average but since you're paying a premium, the food is really quite good. Breakfast and lunch are daily changing buffets. You know, the lunch buffet even had duck, so I recon it was pretty good.

The current chef had been there for 2 weeks. His name is James (I sadly cannot remember his surname); originally from Perth Australia and had been working in the UK for a while.

Dinners were generous and had reasonable choice considering the small number of people to be served. I enjoyed the food most especially because the whole experience and setting was fantastic. Had oryx walking past our window as we dined.

The first night we had this:

Menu:

*warm tomato basil tart with mozzarella, served with lamb's lettuce salad and balsamic mayonnaise

*gazpacho with pesto toast-normally I wouldn't have this because I don't like cucumber but since it was part of the meal I tried it anyway. I actually liked it! What is this world coming to?

*lemon sorbet

*Samak Salamoon Mashwee: Grilled salmon in pink peppercorn sauce, accompanied by chive mash and wilted spinach-I had this as my main course

*Lahm Chanam Bi Salset Khamr-Braised New Zealand lamb shank with tomato & cannelli beans served with red wine and rosemary reduction-Hubby's main (There was also a duck main so it was really hard to decide what to have.)

*Dessert was a passion fruit sponge, fresh fruit or a cheese plate. We had the latter 2 and shared.

*Followed by coffee and mini Arabic pastries.

The second night:

*Asparagus salad (Hubby had)-Bocconcini cheese & grilled asparagus salad with date vinaigrette

*Eggplant couscous salad (I had-was the vegetarian salad)-it was unusual eggplant since it was actually zucchini! :wink:

*Veloute De Choux fleur'-cauliflower soup with herb croutons

*Mango sorbet

*Filet de boeuf au fromage de chevre-beef filled with grilled peppers and courgettes (zucchini), topped with French goats cheese (Hubby had this)*Dajaj Mehshi be fetr-leg of chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms accompanied with tagliatelle of vegetables and thyme jus (I had--there was also a lemon sole dish and a vegetarian main too)

*Baileys flavoured cheesecake (Hubby had)

*Cheese (I had--chose a little of the cheeses I had particularly liked from last night)

*coffee and little Arabic pastries, some different than last night.

On the last day we me James and had a tour of the kitchen. He seems really keen to soon put some changes to the menu; once he settles in a bit. I'd love to go back to see the changes but it's unlikely I'll make it anytime soon. :sad: The days we had there were some of the most wonderful days we've had on vacation. Highly, highly recommended.


A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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I was very interested to hear your review of Fatafeet.  I haven't read anything bad about it but I haven't talked to anyone who has personally gone; my info has only been from publications. I won't rush there now.

I thought you were recommending Fatafeet because you had a nice experienced and I refrained from commenting out of courtesy.

The place is third rate and I am being generous here. They are located on the Creek and although it is a good location but can get very humid at times.

The main traffic of this place is to have a Sheesha (water pipe) and not so much the food in itself.

I am not too enthusiastic about this place and would prefer to have my Sheesha by the pool of the hotel overlooking the beach.

Interestingly, the latest craze is Apple Sheesha and they manage to place the tobacco inside the cut apple as the furnace and the cored apple is half wrapped in alufoil where the coal sits on top. Looks good and taste good as well.

Try it sometime.

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I thought you were recommending Fatafeet because you had a nice experienced and I refrained from commenting out of courtesy.

The place is third rate and I am being generous here. They are located on the Creek and although it is a good location but can get very humid at times.

The main traffic of this place is to have a Sheesha (water pipe) and not so much the food in itself.

I am not too enthusiastic about this place and would prefer to have my Sheesha by the pool of the hotel overlooking the beach.

Interestingly, the latest craze is Apple Sheesha and they manage to place the tobacco inside the cut apple as the furnace and the cored apple is half wrapped in alufoil where the coal sits on top. Looks good and taste good as well.

Try it sometime.

If you haven't been to Chandelier yet, GO. Not only are the meze great (grill is decent but not as good as the mezze). This is a highly enjoyable place to have sheesh (they don't didn't do the apple thing when I was there but had a good hubble bubble list!) and just chill out watching the lebanese and arabic people hanging out. Besides, there is a very interesting fountain (think mini bellagio :smile::wink: ). Lovely way to spend the evening. I wouldn't recommend anyone go to Fatafeet for any reason.

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I've been to both and for

Food: I would go for Chandelier

Sheesha: I would go for Fatafeet

Atmosphere: Fatafeet is by the Creek and Egyptian laid back while Chandelier is Lebanese see and be seen.

But, when in Dubai, I stick to my full Apple Sheesha on the pool by the sea with my GF and the gang in our swimming trunks watching the sunset and later hitting the showers before dinner.

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Sheesha: I would go for Fatafeet

Okay, I could be biased about returning here for Sheesha, it was incredibly hot the night I was there and I felt ill after smoking sheesha (for the first time, I really enjoy water pipes usually). Is it true that one sheesha is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes :blink: a tidbit that I overheard the table next to me saying. I really have a hard time believing this, sheesha seem so light... like inhaling flavoured air.

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Watch out for a new chef coming to Vu's at Emirates Towers in Dubai, young Aussie loaded with Talent.

Starts there next week.

Look forward to try his food very shortly. What's his name and profile?

I enjoyed both food and service at Vu and most importantly is the fact that I can smoke my cigars in peace as the restaurant is geared for cigar smoking with both special ashtray and matches.

In fact I enjoy more Vu than Verre as at least the view is so much better. I am not too enthusiastic about the bar at Vu as it tend to be overcrowded and over boisterous to my taste.


Edited by Almass (log)

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Watch out for a new chef coming to Vu's at Emirates Towers in Dubai, young Aussie loaded with Talent.

Starts there next week.

Look forward to try his food very shortly. What's his name and profile?

I enjoyed both food and service at Vu and most importantly is the fact that I can smoke my cigars in peace as the restaurant is geared for cigar smoking with both special ashtray and matches.

In fact I enjoy more Vu than Verre as at least the view is so much better. I am not too enthusiastic about the bar at Vu as it tend to be overcrowded and over boisterous to my taste.

James Viles

Just left http://www.mintbaranddining.com.au/html/ (Intercontinental Sydney)

Very personable, look for a menu that is a little more contemporary.

Comes from a good background around the Sydney scene.

Nancy Kinchela was the previous chef (in my eyes, she is absolutely awesome) and has left to Shanghai


CHEF JOBS UPDATE - September 07 !!

Latest global Chef jobs listing and news now available!

Take a look online here:

http://www.hostec.com.au/newsletters/chef/sep07/

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Watch out for a new chef coming to Vu's at Emirates Towers in Dubai, young Aussie loaded with Talent.

Starts there next week.

Look forward to try his food very shortly. What's his name and profile?

I enjoyed both food and service at Vu and most importantly is the fact that I can smoke my cigars in peace as the restaurant is geared for cigar smoking with both special ashtray and matches.

In fact I enjoy more Vu than Verre as at least the view is so much better. I am not too enthusiastic about the bar at Vu as it tend to be overcrowded and over boisterous to my taste.

James Viles

Just left http://www.mintbaranddining.com.au/html/ (Intercontinental Sydney)

Very personable, look for a menu that is a little more contemporary.

Comes from a good background around the Sydney scene.

Nancy Kinchela was the previous chef (in my eyes, she is absolutely awesome) and has left to Shanghai

Just read his profile and the menu at Mint. This all sounds very interesting and thank you for the info.

I am looking forward to try his food.

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Absolute high light - Retro, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi

Restaurant is a bit dated and they are set for a renovation.

Food is by far the best in town. Be ready for an adventure.

Stephane (ex NYC) and Ex Chef Anston are powering

Hy .. I am just back from one of my frequent biz-visits to Dubai ... but first after reading egullet forums ...

Well I have been really disappointed by Retro ... the restaurant was empty (maybe bad season ) .. the service was not really at the level of a one or two star restaurant in europe ... presentation of dishes was ok but nothing really special .. but what i found not at level were the flavours ... sometime too flat sometime too strong .... I didn't enjoyed the dinner ... also the wine list was not interesting ...

Well maybe was the wrong day .. I will try again ....

In Dubai actually I never had really "special" food sometimes very good but never special ... I did try :

Nina and Tajine @ Royal Mirage

The rib house and VU's @ Emirates

Zheng's He @ Madinat

Peppercrab @ Grand Hyatt

plus several restaurants at Golf Clubs ...

all of them good some very good (Zheng's He for example) but never special ...

Ciao

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ingbakko,

you didn't have an off day, I agree with you on what you said about retro, I had previously said this

I think he's got great potential and he's being very innovative but the quality of the food and/or his technique is not there yet

Although I'm sad to hear you say it, I had been hoping the cuisine would progress more. There's a lot of ambition in those dishes but food quality and again, his technique, its just not there yet.

The place I still crave, is Chandelier :smile: I'd love to go back and eat some more mezze and have a fresh juice, or two, or three.

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I still haven't been out for dinner more than once (Al-Nafoorah in Emirates Towers) in Dubai, and I've been living here for nearly half a year. Got to do something about that. And as far as lunch is concerned, well, I shamelessly admit that about twice a week I end up picking up a slice of dessert to go from the Lime Tree to tide me over in lieu of a proper meal. Love the chocolate cake, the brownies, the berry almond torte, the flourless pistachio cake with ginger frosting. But I think I need to branch out a bit more. :unsure:

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Its that time of the year again :smile: . We'll be in Dubai for a long weekend soon and I'm wondering if anyone has new recommendations? Or perhaps something we missed on the first time out?

I didn't get to the Spice Souk the first time around, but is it any better for quality of spices than the supermarket is? I was really very impressed with Carrefour. I know, I'm probably missing out on the atmosphere, but if there isn't some incredible spice at the souk... I might give it a miss. The less time spent in Dubai traffic, the more time for me to eat and or go spa :smile: .

But I'd be interested to hear about changes in the restaurant scene or changes in actually restaurants and the food they are turning out.

thanks.

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In what area?

The construction in Jumeirah is truly horrific these days, but that hasn't stopped me from hitting Prasino's at the Jumeirah Beach Club (Resort & Spa) on the weekends. It's not new, but it's new to me. I discovered it a couple of months ago and now it's the only place I go because it's so mellow by Dubai standards and the food is excellent.

What are you looking for specifically, other than markets?

Cheap Lebanese food? Upscale hotel bars? Anything and everything?

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Verjuice,

I am looking for world class anything. I liked Chandelier and will go back there for the mezze but that was the only place that stood out to me when I was in Dubai last year.

Verre is not so interesting because I live in London and Ramsay's flagship (Royal Hospital Road) as well as Maze are both here. But I went to Dubai looking for amazing middle eastern last time, and I don't think I found it. What is it that Dubai does the best? That's what I'm looking for.

We're staying in Jumeirah but I've come to expect Dubai being a big construction site. We stayed at the royal mirage last time and I have some beautiful serene pictures of the beach. You'd never know from those about the racket and clanging and cranes that were right behind me.

What kind of food is Prasino's?

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And has anyone been to Buddha Bar? I believe my husband and his colleagues are interested... I might tag along if its a sight to be scene. Or a scene to be sighted :smile:

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I haven't been to Buddha Bar yet but friends of mine have gone. I'll try and remember to ask them about it and post back.

I like the bar (44th floor? Bar 44? I can never remember) in the same hotel, Grosvenor House. It's my kind of place-- excellent drinks and quiet music so that I can actually hold a conversation with whomever I am with. I moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi last fall, and when I visit on weekends, I gravtitate towards casual places where I can linger for hours. I hate driving in Dubai on weekend evenings in particular. And I see no reason to ever venture beyond Jumeirah, nor can I imagine living in Dubai and living anywhere other than Jumeirah or Umm Suqeim.

That said, Prasino's (described as "modern Mediterranean") isn't far from where you'll be staying. It is located at the Jumeirah Beach Club Resort & Spa. I honestly don't know if I love it as much for the food as for the ambiance. Some nights a horrid pianist will show up and play Elton John covers, in which case I usually migrate to the patio... no menu online, but it's a good solid restaurant by Dubai standards. I have been to Verre a handful of times and was not impressed. They carry a couple of very special Tokaji wines that I got excited about, but I picked a few bottles of the same stuff in Hungary last week and now I don't feel compelled to return to Verre. It's also located in the crummiest part of Dubai.

Lenotre may be a franchise but I like it anyway and one has just opened up down the Beach Road near the Lime Tree Cafe (excellent stuff to-go, by the way... and their coffees and brownies are fantastic). I hit Lenotre for pastry every weekend-- it's the only place in the country where I can get my fix of all-butter croissants and salted caramel macarons.

You asked what Dubai does best.

Dubai is an import society. It doesn't do anything best. It's charm is that you can get it all in one place. But of course that doesn't mean it's good. :smile:

And if you want to eat local food, your best bet would be to score an invitation to someone's house. As an Emirati, though, I have to say: stick with Lebanese! Al-Nafoorah at Emirates Towers is excellent. Sheikh Mohammed eats lunch there most days. I've heard good things about Vu's (pronounced "views") in the same building, but I can't say firsthand whether it's any good.

Then there are the usual suspects like the Seafood Market. Personally I can't stand the place. :wacko:

Time Out just released their annual Eating & Drinking Guide to Dubai, by the way. Available all over town. You might want to glance at a copy.

Since moving back to the Emirates last year, my passion for fine dining has comprehensively been adjusted to a become a quest for the best Lebanese takeout dive. In my opinion, that's where the savviest chefs are.


Edited by Verjuice (log)

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