Category Archives: Dinner Escapes

Toko

Toko
There’s no doubt that the Vida hotel has done an excellent job in reigniting the ghost town that was once Qamardeen Hotel with the introduction of La Serre, Picnic Brunches and now Toko, a new trendy and upscale Japanese restaurant. There were scandalous whispers before the opening of Toko that they poached someone from Zuma to start Toko as they did someone from LPM to start La Serre. Upon my arrival I do ask the manager on deck “ So where are you chefs from?” He diplomatically responds, “That is private information but the majority hail from Japan.” If your wondering, Toko is not a homegrown concept as is La Serre, but a franchise from the beautiful costs of Australia and we love everything Australian. Walking around the restaurant the mood is sophisticated cozy, brown wood interiors, nothing overbearing true to the culture Down Under. Two main features distinguish the space, an open kitchen to make any foodie smile and a terrace laced with Japanese umbrellas. We take our seats and comb through the extensive menus. The extensive menu business seems to be the case across all Japanese restaurants such as Zuma, Sake, Tomo etc.  Granted the Japanese love their options, but how about a one page Japanese menu? Any one? Any takers? Ten minutes and a tedious selection later our orders are made and my drink arrives to replenish my energy. A beautiful creation in theory, lychee and passion fruit, but in reality the cocktail falls short. First come the edamame and miso soup, check and check. Next, the Tuna tartare, and not just any, the kind of tartare that comes with fresh shavings of truffle. Lighter then a steak tartare my dinner dates comments that she could have this for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I agree. The eggplant meso follows, with the light flavors that preceded the heavy and overly sweet eggplant disappoints. I have strong appreciation for soft shell crab and it’s a dish I constantly order. When our plate arrives, I let out an “Oh wow!”, it’s the first time I see and experience soft shell crabs of that size. Duking the grab legs into the wasabi sauce and then into my mouth is wonderful. Our spicy tuna makki, prawn nigiri and shishito peppers are adequate but we both decide that on our next visit they would be reshuffled for something else on the menu. Finally our Alaskan king crab, at AED 235 a plate, perfection is our anticipation. Taking a bite of the crab, it’s juicy sauce dribbles down my chin. Juicy it is, but the crab had clearly been cooked in butter, which we find too over bearing. With a comment to the manager the king crab is swiftly taken off our bill and dessert made complementary. Whisky foam, coffee ice cream and honey comb for dessert, not quite Japanese but hey there’s whisky in my dessert, I like it. There are hits and misses in the dishes we tried keeping in mind we only sampled 10% of the menu while the prices are nothing to take lightly. But the service, the welcoming of the space and the power of 2 excellent dishes will make me return. Enjoying quality fusion Japanese no longer requires a side order of pretentiousness and dense crowds. Oh did I mention the terrace?
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Vida Hotel OPENING HRS. 12 -3 6-12 CUISINE Fusion Japanese PRICE PER COUPLE AED 850 TELEPHONE # 04 4428383 WEBSITE Toko
THE FORK-O-METER
A Craving Quencher Restaurant
 

Sapori di Bice

Sapori di Bice
One of the trickiest things a high-end restaurant can do is successfully open a casual dining spin off. Why? Two reasons really… Positioning the casual restaurant in a way that wouldn’t cannibalize the high-end restaurant’s business, i.e. offering a more casual experience at a more casual price tag. And second, the price tag can’t be too casual or else people will start to question the sensibility of margins at the high-end restaurant. It’s a fine balance that I believe Sapori di Bice has hit. Sapori di Bice, as the name indicates, is a casual restaurant from the Bice restaurant group. Bice, once a staple in the fine dining restaurant scene in Dubai, saw an unfortunately decline from the expatriation of heavy weight talent from them to Roberto’s. Bice seems to have faded away like red lipstick after a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. A remanence is there, a pink shade if you will, but nothing compared to the bold red in it’s heyday. Its Friday afternoon and a friend and I are walking around City Walk on Wasel Road, investigating the mushrooming of newly opened shops and restaurants. Shisha, pass, more shisha for heavens sakes, pass, desserts, pass, soul-less, pass, pass and pass. And then a flutter of Italian being spoken around the corner, I pear my head over and the white space draws me in. After working up an appetite and spending a healthy amount on a new skirt in Sauce in the Hood, comfort food is in order. Beef Carpaccio, spaghetti bolognaise and a café gelato for dessert please. My surprisingly cute Italian waiter (attention, cute waiter in Dubai translates into an oxymoron) responds with, “Right away Miss, the spaghetti Bolognese is not on the menu but I will ask the chef to prepare something special for you.” Could it be, I ordered something off the menu and wasn’t greeted with a deer caught in the headlights expression from my waiter? The result, a smile and a thank you. My beef Carpaccio arrives with a drizzle of truffle oil and slices of mushroom, both of which I feel there is no need for. My specially prepared spaghetti arrives, I push away the Carpaccio to make room. Swirling my fork in the pasta, I create the perfect tightly wrapped bite sprinkle some Parmesan and take it all in. El dente, well seasoned and comfortable, everything a bolognaise should be. Extra sprinkles please I say… A café gelato, maybe one of the best flavors created by man. Velvet-ty and lovely and with each spoonful my troubles and spending woes wash away. A casual Italian that is not in a mall or in a Hotel, how lovely… Would I make a trip to City Walk for a meal at Sapori Di Bice? I’m not sure, but if I’m shopping or walking around that area, that’s the only place I’d sit down for a bite. The next dish to try, freshly roasted chicken. But if we’re speaking take away, I did make my way over to Sapori Di Bice just to pick up a couple of scoops of café gelato for a dinner date. How sweet it is.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION City Walk Wasel Road OPENING HRS. 8am - 11 pm  CUISINE Italian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 250 TELEPHONE # 04 344 2550  WEBSITE Sapori
THE FORK-O-METER
A Casual Hit the Spot Place

Bu Qtair

Bu Qtair
By virtue of coincidence and by my obsessive compulsiveness towards daylight, my friends and I experienced a seamless Bu Qtair evening. It’s 3:58 pm on a sunny Friday afternoon on the shores of Dubai. My eyes closed, I lie on my towel with my toes in the sand and enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore. Sublime, nothing could be more relaxing. The clock strikes 4:00 pm and my beach bum persona washes away with the earlier wave as the general in me kicks in. “Alright everyone up… to Bu Qtair we go!” With two hours left till sundown, I hastily herd my friends over to their cars in order to capture our Bu Qtair experience in daylight. Upon our arrival at 4:10 pm, the fishermen are weaving their nets, the cats are taking a snooze but no one is in site. Inquiring with someone in the cabin, we are informed to return at 6 pm when the first order is made at 6:30 pm and no exceptions are made… not even if you say please… not even if you explain that you want to take photos… not even…. Anything. After a leisurely stroll around Jumeirah, we return at sunset and already notice a queue starting in the cabin. As customer number 5, our male friend (hero) selflessly volunteers himself to stand in the ordering queue as we graciously and happily accept while we wait outside. Fatigued from the beach and the walk around Jumeirah, my friend and I pop a squat on plastics stools. “Serene… I need to put my camera down somewhere, lets just grab that table over there…” As we move our stools over and make ourselves comfortable on the table, we notice in that short laps of time, the queue extending out the cabin and onto the road, with not a free stool or table in sight.  Phew… good timing! After enjoying the outdoor breeze and watching people from all walks of life join in, Arab, French, Pilipino, English and more our fish and shrimp arrive along with our side orders of rice, salad, sauce and bread. Breaking into the dark crusted fish which reveals the ever so white and juicy meat is beautiful. As juicy as possible and yet not as fishy as anticipated each bite, though on plastic chairs and tables, is as luxurious as can be. I adore fried everything, fried squash flowers to fried potatoes and fried dumplings, but I believe, one ingredient that should never touch the fryer is shrimp. Their meat is too delicate for harsh oils.  And so, my attention is subsequently set on the fish. The bread is extra fresh and warm. My bite, enclosing the juicy fish with the warm bread and drizzling the spicy tomato sauce on top… and repeat. Though I prefer a fresh tomato sauce to the cooked version… this version will do just fine. By the end of the evening my friends and I can easily count around 250 people, which is incredible. Bu Qtair symbolizes something I love, if you offer quality food consistently, everyone will come. Is it the best combination of flavors I have tasted? I’m not sure, I’ve had delicious fish at an Abu Dhabi fish market that I dream of, but I know that Bu Qtair delivers on one of the best food experiences in Dubai. Eating along side the beach, in open air, a stone throw away from the fishermen themselves, on a sand pit mind you, makes it surreally on some level and an experience I wouldn’t mind frequenting when ever possible. Oh and they’re happy to wrap up anything you haven’t finished, so don’t be shy and order as you please. The Plan of Action:
  1. Arrive at 6 pm sharp.
  2. Ordering starts at 6:30 pm although you should start queuing at 6:00 pm.
  3. Have one person order and the others wait outside wile securing a spot to eat.
  4. Order your choice of fish and shrimp.
  5. Pop a squat on some stools even before the tables are set up.
  6. Once the tables are out, grab your stool and claim a table.
  7. When you’re seated and have ordered your fish, a waiter will approach your table to make the order of sides being salad, bread and rice.
  8. Have fun, get your hands dirty and enjoy the fresh air and sunset.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Jumeirah OPENING HRS. 10:30-3 6:30-12 CUISINE Indian Seafood PRICE PER COUPLE AED 100 TELEPHONE # 055 7052130
THE FORK-O-METER
An Experience to Remember

Fraiche – #WatchThisSpace

Fraiche
This is strictly a #WatchThisSpace kind of post. Fraiche recently opened (Soft Opening) in JLT in early July. Stepping into Fraiche I notice the beautiful brickwork that surrounds the space which instantly gives it a warm vibe. Setting my eyes on the extra large communal table I smile, turn to the owner and say "I'll be pack on Tuesday... with some of my friends." I usually like posting reviews only after official openings, but I couldn't help it. Here's a couple of snaps of the evening, full review to come as soon as they officially open - September I think. #FIODT Powered by Restronaut. Love, Tala  

The D Bar and Grill

D Bar and Grill
It’s been quite a while since I‘ve written something creative and I can see its effects in my financial reports for my banking job. No longer is it a simple dip in company revenues by 10% but now its an extended explanation of how the rising price of steal and blossoming tulips in Holland had an effect on the company’s sales figures. To put an end to my ever-growing reports, I sat down this evening stretched out my fingers and said “Yalla go play” as I laid them down on my keyboard. Walking into McGettigans on Sheikh Zayed road I’m greeted with the hustle and bustle of an Irish Pub, glasses cheers-ing, a live band and roaring conversation. Climbing the steps, I reach the glass gates of the D Bar and Grill. Stepping in to the D, its shhhh quiet, calm and cool. The manager Gabriel, angelically glides over and welcomes me to the restaurant. “A tour my child?” “Yes please.” I respond. Escorted around the restaurant I’m told that the wood used for the fit out was sourced from an old train station in the UK and the bar, made of bricks, was also sourced from a church in the UK. Adorning the walls are colorful quirky paintings that give a much-needed contrast to the heavy fit out. Taking my seat I wait for my guests, its just four of us tonight, which is expected, it takes hard work and dedication climbing up the steps and reach the gates of the D Bar. On their arrival, our orders are taken, a cheers is made and our dinner begins. To start a beetroot Beetroot & Dill, Horseradish, watercress & Irish soda bread arrives. Stunning colors is what I take in first. Bright green, with deep Bordeaux against a white canvas. I adore beetroot but it was a sudden enlightenment. I remember hating it as a child and suddenly loving one bright Sunday morning. The trick to a successful beetroot dish is the right amount of dressing, which the D has nailed. The earthy beetroot, fresh watercress and mellow creamy cheese are perfect. I’m never pulled towards duck. Is it a question of habit, or non-habit? Or is it a question of flavor? Either way, no one at the table selected the duck, therefore by default, a rare hazard of my job, I select the duck. My duck breast spiced red cabbage, endive, turnips & fig jam arrives beautifully presented and not as fatty as I remember, the fig jam makes all the difference. I happily finish my plate, but have I converted? I still think duck is a sitting duck kind of selection for me. And on to dessert. My favorite cake from my childhood is not birthday cake or a cup cake or even an ice cream cake, no it’s an Opera Cake the only kind of cake I used to eat. Sliding my fork down the cake, memories of pointing out the cake to the vendor come to my mind. Having a taste of the bite, I smile but believe there should be more cream. I move on to a delicious cheese platter to end a heavenly meal. Finishing off our lovely meal we do notice that we still are one of the few people at the D which made me remember Mark Twain, who loosely mentioned Go to D Bar for the climate and McGettigans for the company. I have returned since and had another impressive meal at the D although this time in the company of one more table, slow progress I guess. D offers good food, at an interesting venue but lacks in terms of ambiance. Maybe it’s a question of time before more people to start walking through their doors. Either way, I’m counting my blessings that the D is right next to my house. Powered by Restronaut
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Trade Center OPENING HRS. 12-3 7-11  CUISINE International PRICE PER COUPLE AED 500 TELEPHONE # 056 6038846 WEBSITE DBarandGrill
THE FORK-O-METER
A Craving Quencher Restaurant
   

Caramel

Caramel
I love my Uncle. In more ways than one, he is one of the first people to influence my pallet. He grew up in a town called Ain Al Saydeh in one of the low mountains of Lebanon. During his early days, everything was done by hand and according to tradition. Everything was seasonal. Peaches were eaten during summer, chestnuts in winter and if they were lucky the figs, the really good golden figs, would last until September. When it comes to food, some people may call him difficult or finicky but I don’t see it that way. He has tasted food before mass production and before organic was a trend, when it actually was the norm. When you’ve tasted that, why settle for something less? I’ll always praise him for wanting the best, the best of not necessarily the most expensive, not lobster, not oyster but jut the best tomato, the best cut of meat or the best nectarine. Apart from his passion for food, my uncle has a knack for quotes. Any situation that arises is a chance for him to dispel his wisdom through a quote or poetry, which I love. After having dinner at Caramel, some of my favorite quotes of his resonated with me. “Jack of all trades, but a master of none.” Being a successful restaurant that offers an international cuisine may be one of the hardest things to master. Recipes can be copied, distributed and implemented but you always know that something is lacking; the know-how that only comes from a mother or a culture. I do commend Caramel for offering such a wide variety of food. For starters we have spicy tuna rolls, Chinese chicken salad and crispy eggplant. The eggplant is battered, deep-fried and doused in the thickest sauce possible. Is there even eggplant left in this dish I ask myself? Pull back and let the eggplant shine through, roast it on the grill, drizzle some pomegranate sauce with a touch of garlic and you’re golden. Of the three choices the Chinese chicken salad is the most preferred, light and fresh. For mains we have braised hammour, petite fillet and marinated half chicken. The petite fillet is served in three thin pieces cooked to medium well. I would have preferred one large piece where I can really enjoy the center of the steak. As for dessert we have pumpkin cheesecake and dark chocolate fondant. Contrary to my dinner guests, I really like the cheesecake, it’s light and fluffy and reminds me of Thanks Giving. As for the dark chocolate fondant, melted chocolate, how can you go wrong with that? I always like recommending something at the end of my reviews, not as a restaurant owner, not as a chef and not as a critic but just as a paying customer. I have noticed that several things on the menu are fried, cheese filled, or heavily sauce drenched. Scale back, go for something fresher, lighter and more contemporary. They may say their food is comfort food but there is something called dated comfort food. “Live and Let Live” One of my favorite quotes from my uncle is "live and let live". No matter where you’re from, what religion you are, what culture of beliefs you hold I respect that them and I wouldn’t try to change them. I may be one of the most liberal people you can meet. I am all for basic freedoms of expression. I grew up in Saudi Arabia which ment I was required to wear a black abaya when I was in public. With respect to their culture I did, and never nagged about it for I was a guest in their country. But to this day when someone enforces a dress code on me, its something that I can’t and wont accept because it’s a basic freedom that I enjoy expressing. Keeping that in mind, I do have to make a comment about the uniforms for the beautiful  Caramel hostesses. They're short, low cut and have a slit up to there, is that a bit much? I always hear my guy friends talking about the Okku hostesses, statuesque and dressed in long elegant black dresses. Just something to think about elegance trumps everything and is truly remembered. “Lets do the Twist” Though a man in the later part of his life, my uncle is usually the star on the dance floor. As a teen in the 60s no one can do the twist quite like he does. I love the music at Caramel! While we were having dinner, the DJ was playing some of my favorite old school Hip Hop songs. Song after song I would be taken back to my teen years, in a house party giggling with my girl friends.  So thank you for the beautiful memories. “Yalla min Shoufkon” {Alright, we’ll see you in Arabic} Caramel is perfectly located at the heart of DIFC, I would return for the beautiful setting and lovely music, not so much for the food, but hey, everyone has their strengths in life!
THE DETAILS
LOCATION DIFC OPENING HRS. Sun-Thu 11-2 Fri-Sat 7-2  CUISINE  International PRICE PER COUPLE AED 600 TELEPHONE # 04 425 6677  
THE FORK-O-METER
Old School R&B Spot
       

Shogun

Shogun
I love my #FIODT dinner guests, and I’m extremely proud and happy to call them all mine! They are a discerning bunch really. Out to discover the new and unknown. Not everything cuts it for them, no, they turn their noses up at commercial places that have no soul and I love that. They even call me out on restaurants that aren’t adventurous enough, which I agree, but Fork It Over Dubai has to cater to everyone. When news got out that I was hosting my #FIODT dinner at Shogun, a hidden gem in Ghurair Center Deira, the table was fully booked / over booked in a span of hours. I had 17 guests ready to venture down to Deira and taste something real. One of my favorite things about Shogun is that it caters to both Korean diplomats and young nationals that are looking for a taste of home. Stepping into Ghurair center, down the hall, up the elevator and to the left, we finally step into Shogun. A small step for mankind, but a giant leap into a different Dubai. Shoes off as we make our way into our semi private room where the table is set, the grills are ready to go and my guests arrive one by one with a giddy smile on their faces in anticipation of dinner. We begin with Kimchi, traditional Korean dishes made of vegetables with a variety of seasoning. Whenever I have Kimchi, I tend to gravitate to my favorites of cabbage and cucumber.  Bringing the Kimchi to my lips I feel its cool temperature but then its hot kick which I enjoy experiencing most about Kimchi. A word about tofu, it’s only as good as what you put on top of it or in it, any one who says they love tofu because of tofu is lying. Taking a bite of the Saeng Tofu, fresh Tofu topped with Korean chili dressing, the contrast between the spicy chili sauce and neutral tofu makes for a damn good combination. My eyes widen, as my chopsticks reach out for seconds, that’s a first! An assortment of egg battered vegetables and shrimp catch my eye, I take a pick and experience the over powering taste of egg in the mixture. Dubai eggs are tricky, they’re very pungent, I would suggest something to kill the egg-iness of the batter. Chopsticks in hand, I pick up a piping hot dumpling and take a bite, the crispy dough harnesses the juicy and tender meat on the inside, more for me please! I have a feeling that Zuma ruined black cod for all restaurants. I know that any cod dish consumed is subconsciously compared to Zuma’s. Before the meal started, the owner tells me that Koreans do cod, Undaegu Gui, better than anyone else. When the cod arrives I’m excited, the soy sauce is poured over the horseradish and its time for a taste. Zuma may finally have some competition. It’s a crispier take on the fish, which is something I welcome and the horseradish and soy sauce elevate the charred smokiness of the fish. Well done. The Dolsot Bibimbab, rice mixed with assorted pre cooked vegetables, egg yolk and chili sauce in a sizzling stone pot is put on our table. The chili sauce is added, all the ingredients are mixed and taste is taken. Initially worried that the egg yolk will over power the dish, it elegantly dissolves into the ingredients, the mushroom on the contrary proves to be the most powerful flavor, too overpowering maybe. And finally the grills are fried up, one then two then three. The beef spare ribs and shrimps are placed on our table. In accordance with tradition, we first massage the grill with an onion in preparation for the meat. The beef spare ribs are gracefully unwrapped onto the grill as welcome the sound of sizzling meat.  5 minutes on the cloc, tongs in one hand and scissors in another, the meat is cut into portion size pieces and given a final turn on the grill. Lettuce, meat, kimchi and a peanut based sauce; rolling action followed by popping in mouth action. Crispy, cold, hot and a touch spicy. The meat is tender and one of the perks of self-cooking, is it's cooked to my liking. I don’t get as much marination flavors as I want, but still it proves to be a delicious bite. The delicate shrimp comes next, only a touch on each side and its ready to go. I sip on my chilled cinnamon tea, which sparks memories of Christmas while discovering my sweet bean vanilla ice cream. After a bite or two my spoon subconsciously maneuvers around the beans and goes straight to the ice cream. The highlights of the meal include the kimchi, fried duplings, chili tofu, cod and everything self grilled. Dining at Shogun was a true experience that everyone enjoyed. There was passing of plates, discussion of how to grill meat the right way, tastings of new flavors and most of all laughter.  A good dinner experience always puts people at ease and brings out the joy in them. A lovely example of a destination restaurant. Powered by Restronaut.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Al Ghurair Center OPENING HRS. 12-2:30, 6-11pm CUISINE Korean PRICE PER COUPLE AED 300 TELEPHONE # 04 228 5568
THE FORK-O-METER
Ur Korean Hidden Gem
       

Frevo

Frevo
I just noticed that the latest trend for the restaurant scene in Dubai is South American.  We have welcomed several restaurants such at Maya, Fuego, Café Habana and Frevo all with open arms, after all who can resist Latin flavors? When someone tells me they live on the Palm, I think of speed bumps and early morning traffic. When someone tells me about a hotel on the Palm, I think of the romance of a near by escape. Technically off the coast of mainland Dubai, hotels on the Palm assume the role of a several hour vacation. The newly opened Frevo hit both marks of a South American restaurant, Brazilian actually, and a location in the Fairmont Palm, so a table by default is booked, 12 guests join in and et voi-la a FIOD Tuesday dinner is ready to go. Entering the Fairmont Palm, I have to admit, I did expect something a touch more luxurious, although in true Fairmont form the hotel is traditional to sophisticated chic. Walking into Frevo the live music greets me and starts easing me into the sounds and hence flavors of Brazil. Doing my tradition lap around the restaurant, I stumble across a diagram of a cow and get an impromptu lesson from a chef informing where each cut of meat comes from. We take our seats on the Terrace to enjoy the beautiful weather as the waiter informs us how dinner will unfold. First comes soup, then salad, several cuts of meat and chicken followed by dessert. The beef broth soup with white beans arrives in a cast iron pot and is places at the center of the table to be served individually by the chef. With my soup served, I break off a piece of bread and a slam-dunk it into my bowl to soak up all its flavors. My bread pick is the onion roll which tastes exactly like onion soup (Tip #1). I walk over to the salad station, and queue up for the Saladista to make me a tailored salad. After realizing how long it would take to reach her, I say “Maybe next time Mrs. Saldista” and peruse the already made salads (Tip #2). Some of the most interesting include a carrot and coconut salad and grilled hearts of palms. The soup and salads have been taken care of and now, finally its time, with one click of the button, the Frevo Call for Meat Beacon is turned from red to green signaling to he kitchen to let loose on the beef. And it begins, Beef Rib Eye, 
Rum Beef (Picanha), 
 Flank steak, 
Strip Loin, Boneless Short Ribs, 
Tri Tip, 
Top Sirloin, 
Lamb chops, 
Leg of Lamb, 
Chicken Drums and
Chicken thighs. With the sheer amount of choices don’t fill up on soup or salad and PACE YOUR SELF! (Tip #3) The chef brings the extra large skewer of meat to the table and shaves off a section for me to grab with my personal tong. The first cut of meat is the sirloin, and as I am seated at the head of the table, I get the first shaving. A bit too well done for my liking I think. When the next round comes along, I know to ask him for a cut more towards the center of the meat (Tip #4). Sampling the sides I pop a deep-fried banana into my mouth, crispy on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside. It’s a delight but I question, have we reach dessert already? The cuts of meat come and go, I gracefully accept a slice, pour on some beautiful spicy Gaucho Beef jus and enjoy, pleasant chitchat if you will, until the Rum Beef Picanha arrives where an in-depth love story unfolds. Cooked they way I like it, medium to medium rare and melt in your mouth bite after bite. The dilemma soon unfolds of, I’m too full but I want/need another piece.  For next time, I’m going to start with the Picanha (Tip #5). If you enjoy your life spicy, ask for the super spicy tomato based sauce to go along with your cuts of meat (Tip #: 6). And finally, the grilled pineapple, a refreshing choice after the prolonged meat opera. Taking a bite of the fruit I do wish they cooked it longer. The pineapple is composed of such rich sugars that cooking it until the edges get caramelized is a MUST. Even after skipping a couple of rounds of meat, I surrender and say no more, I push on the Frevo Call for Meat Beacon to turn it red and sit back on my chair. Happy that I arrived in a cab, I know my ride home will include some dosing off (Tip #7). Buckling my self in the car, I close my eyes and wonder. I’m sure when they were creating Frevo they though, lets put everything people enjoy into one concept. A button for stop and go, a Saladista, a chef who pours your soup, a live band and meat that gets cut at your table. Is that too gimmicky? Frevo has good quality food so they shouldn’t worry about scaling back on the gimmicks and just let the food shine through. On more than one occasion the meat was over cooked while the pineapple was under cooked, minimal tweaks that can greatly enhance the dining experience. Oh and one more thing, on weekends they serve shrimp and lobster, which is a bit unfair. I believe weekday dinners sacrifice more to be at the restaurant so I, I mean they, deserve their shrimp. Alas, a solid value for money meal which I always respect, a touch too much on the gimmicks, but hey if you like that you know where to go. Powered by Restronaut.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Fairmont Palm OPENING HRS. S-W 7-11:30  T-F 7:12:30 CUISINE Brazilian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 590 TELEPHONE # 04 457 3457 WEBSITE Frevo
THE FORK-O-METER
Ur Gimmicky Carnivorous Spot
   

Cavendish

Cavendish
I have to admit, JLT is a grey area to me. If you ask me where to eat in JBR, Downtown, DIFC or Madinat Jumeirah I would be able to recommend something to suit your occasion. If you ask me where to eat in JLT, I would be at a loss for recommendations - quelle horreur! So when a friend tipped me off to Cavendish in the Bonnington Hotel, JLT, I said yes please table for 12! Walking down the staircase towards Cavendish I am greeted by a dining room with high ceilings, something I like. The welcome party also included velvet dressed lime green chairs, double cloth covered tables and Garden Center houseplants. Talking a stroll around the dining area I come across a beautiful piano played by the ghost of Mr. Cavendish himself maybe. Were those stairs I walked down or a time machine that warped me back to a hotel in the 90s? Taking my seat at my 12-seater table I’m pleased that the restaurant can accommodate large groups, something I always keep in mind when occasions come around. My dinner guests arrive in bulks of 2 or 3 and before I know it, all hands on deck. As it is the first Tuesday of the month, Cavendish offers a mushroom inspired three course wine paired menu. Consciously seating myself next to a die hard foodie, strategizing ensues. The menu offers either or choices for starters and mains and accordingly a pact is made to order each other’s opposite to insure everything on the menu gets sampled. Our amuse bouche arrives via a cappuccino inspired cup filled with a mushroom soup and truffle foam. Dipping my spoon into the soup and tasting its warm earthy flavors, I set my spoon aside and continue with gulps sips (must maintain lady-like demeanor) to finish it off. The soup proves to be a true amuse bouche that prepares me for the flavors to come. My salad of pigeon, beetroot and candied walnuts arrives next. Beetroot is one of my new found loves, so it’s a sensitive subject when on a plate. Pairing my sweet beetroot with the citrus of the salad, meat of pigeon and candied walnuts is sublime.  Luckily this dish is served to me before my foodie companion, so I have to selfishly admit, I do finish more than half of it before letting him have his share. Wine selection is a pinot noir from Argentina. A dish of lamb sweetbreads is placed in front of me, aka lamb glands. As it’s a first for me, I do my 5 sense rundown, light in color, soft to the touch, smells like butter scotch meat, biting into it I hear nothing and finally it tastes like rich sweet, butter bread, but its meat. The sweetbreads are served with peas and asparagus which are a much-needed fresh flavor to contrast the rich meat and dense gnocchi.  The dish exposed me to a new and beautiful flavor, and I thank it for that, but I would have been satisfied with half of its quantity only because of it’s intense flavors. The wine selection is a Zenfendale from USA. My veal tenderloin with mushrooms and artichoke arrives. Though overly presented, I prefer dishes that are neat yet still organically plated, doesn’t disappoint. The beef is cooked to medium and the drizzled Madeira sauce (similar to a dry cherry) brings it all together.  The wine selection is Chianti Classico form Italy. I take a bite of the trout served with bacon, which is good, but I decide to continue with the fillet. Pre dessert to our dessert is presented. Cute, small, honeycomb parfait, more please! And finally, dark cherry soufflé served with a sweet Monte wine from Chile.  Only a handful of restaurants have soufflé on their menu because it needs to be served on the spot and is not easy to master, so bravo to Cavendish for taking on that challenge, all the ramekins are wiped clean. Laying my head to rest that evening I think about the beetroot salad, the sweetbreads, the parfait, the sweet wine, a sign that the food did make an impact on me. I would request from the bottom of my heart a design change, not that it’s the only thing that matters, but it does matter. Get rid of the plants, the piano that plays songs on repeat, the lime green and red colors, replace it with all white have some live music and Cavendish would flourish. For now they fall under the Bring-Your-Own-Ambiance category, but know that they will Bring-the-Food better than a lot of restaurants in Dubai at a price you would also enjoy. Powered by Restronaut.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Bonnington Hotel JLT OPENING HRS. 12:30-6, 7-11 pm CUISINE British PRICE PER COUPLE AED 590 TELEPHONE # 04 356 0533 WEBSITE Click Here
THE FORK-O-METER
Ur Well Priced Wine Pairing Spot
       

Prime 68

Prime 68
For the past couple of years, driving up and down Sheikh Zayed Road, everyone has commented, either positivity or negatively about the two extremely tall towers that have now become the new JW Marquis Hotel in Business Bay. Driving up to the hotel one of my dinner guests comments that it feels exactly the same as the first time he had drove through the Marina way back when. A new road, a new area and a new boundary that has been set. Its traffic lights now relatively empty, but rest assured in a span a few short months, the “build it and they will come” mantra of Dubai will take into effect. Pressing the 68th floor we shoot up into the sky at a leisurely speed. Knowing that JW Steakhouse, an institution in the Dubai steakhouse scene, is also part of the Marriot family, my expectations start to rise with every floor that we pass. Walking into the restaurant the first thing that strikes you is how bright and lit the steakhouse is.  Proudly proclaiming that dark steakhouses are a thing of the past, Prime 68 boasts white lacquered finishing with only a touch of black that plays on its 50s theme. As a group of 9 dinner guests, we pass the romantic two seat-er booths, which have mirrored ceilings mind you, to the open space next to the glassed kitchen. Taking our seats, we are handed horizontal menus that open upwards rather than to the side, which I find interesting, but the noteworthy part is that yes its just one beautiful concise page. Weary about the service based on a review that popped up right after Prime 68's opening, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there have been some improvements. Our starters arrive and my spoon splashes into the luxurious lobster bisque I ordered. A warm creamy creation with a kiss of the sea. Recovering from the initial enchantment of the dish, my spoon fishes for pieces of lobster to surface only to be successful twice. Though some lobster bisques do not require you to add lobster meat to them, my dinner guest and I agreed, if you going to add meat, be generous with it. Looking at the very unassuming crab cake, its full-on ode to the nude color makes me take a bite in passing, only to look back startled and with a smile as if it snapped three times in my face (in the form of a triangle) telling me “I better recognize”. The fresh chunky meat paired with a spicy sauce is one of the best I’ve had. A taste of the scallops with pomegranate seeds is lovely. My dinner guest did comment he would have preferred the larger sized scallops to the mini ones offered. The star of the show arrives, the steak, and my usual, perceived by some as boring although perfect to me, cut of fillet is cooked to medium as requested. As with any circumstance, the start of the show is nothing without his or her supporting actors, the sides, oh glorious sides. Wild mushrooms, steakhouse fries, buttery mash, grilled asparagus, lobster mac and cheese, truffle gratin, onion straw and sweet potato toped with marshmallows. Dare I say, their sides may rival that of The Exchange Grill’s, my one and only steakhouse true love. The nominations for the best supporting actors go to, the crispy airy onion straws, the gooey rich lobster mac and cheese and the interesting sweet potato toped with caramelized marshmallows. All winners in my books. And for desserts cheesecake and bread pudding paired with a delicious dessert wine. After pairing the two, I vow to never have dessert without a dessert wine in hand. Taking bite of the cheesecake, I experience the first fumble of the night. Grasping for flavor I take another bite followed by another to no avail.  Beautifully presented the cheesecake whole-heartedly tries to deliver, but forgetting her lines, calls out ‘Line’ only to and empty back stage. Taking a sip of my dessert wine to forget the past and start a new, I begin with the bread pudding topped with vanilla ice cream. A combination of pudding, French toast and vanilla, it’s a type of dessert that makes you sit back and say, “Mmm that’s good!” I am going to put Prime 68 in my Top 5 steakhouses in Dubai. I still haven’t settled on the order but it’s up there. I would request that they dim the lights ever so slightly and select some interesting music just to ring in a dinner mood. At AED 500 per head (including drinks) though an expensive bill, is still competitive based on what is on the market, the quality and taste of food that was delivered.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION JW Marquis OPENING HRS. 6 pm to Midnight CUISINE Steakhouse PRICE PER COUPLE AED 1,100 TELEPHONE # 04 414 3000 WEBSITE JW
THE FORK-O-METER
Ur New Steakhouse Spot