Excellent dishes and impeccable service make Rhodes Twenty 10 more than just a steakhouse, writes Emily Shardlow
In the evening Rhodes Twenty 10 has the look and feel of a lounge bar/restaurant of yesteryear. It is decadent, moody and sophisticated, with dimmed lights, muted purple touches and plump seats that practically demand you sink into them. This may well be a steakhouse, but make no mistake, it's a swanky one.
As we settled down at our table, a charming waiter explained the "concept" of the restaurant to us: all the starters are designed for sharing, but can also be ordered individually. For the main course, you select from a variety of steaks, five or six seafood dishes or from a few other hearty options - along the lines of rack of lamb or roast chicken. While these are often served with a sauce, they do not come with any other accompaniments. Instead, you pick added extras from an appetising list (various vegetables, chips, mashed potato, salad etc). This does mean, as our waiter pointed out, that customers are afforded the freedom of customising their own meals, but let's not forget that they pay extra to do so.
Now don't get me wrong, I had a very nice meal at Rhodes Twenty 10. The service is impeccable; it is personable and highly efficient, yet the atmosphere is far from strained. The food is good, some of it excellent, even. The pricing, particularly for the main courses, surprised me though. My friend ordered wagyu rib eye and sure enough, a glistening piece of meat arrived; it was cooked medium-rare all the way through, marbled with just the right amount of fat and was meltingly soft. Now wagyu is a prized type of meat, and dedicated fans are well used to paying a premium for it. My issue here is that it's somewhat galling, and can well ruin a jovial mood, when after accepting (gulp) the Dh330 price tag, you then realise that this only covers the cost of the meat and a chosen sauce (in this case a lively salsa of avocado, mango and red pepper one). If you fancy a portion of chips or a few vegetables on the side, then these come at an additional cost. Rhodes Twenty 10 certainly isn't the first restaurant to do this, but it might placate customers if they threw in a side salad gratis when people are already paying a substantial amount of money for the main element of their meal.
My salmon fish cakes were less expensive. Unfortunately they weren't particularly exciting; balls of potato, mixed with flaked salmon and herbs and served on a (nicely seasoned) pile of wilted spinach. Had they been threaded with morsels of turbot and langoustine I might have felt differently about them, but as it was they were my least favourite of all the dishes that we ate that night. We chose two side orders to share and enjoyed them both: green beans were vibrant and had just the right amount of bite to them, and a rocket and parmesan salad served with a thick, well-made balsamic dressing was notably fresh.
For our starters we enjoyed a very tasty sesame-glazed duck and orange salad. The skin of the duck was lovely and crisp, the meat underneath was succulent and the sauce was distinctive and honeyed, without being too sweet. Bean sprouts added a final clean crunch to the dish. Our other starter of spiced aubergine wasn't quite as morish, but it was still rather nice: tender rectangles of warm aubergine served in a delicate tomato sauce flecked with parsley.
We chose to end the meal with a slice of treacle tart. It was a faultless dessert; a thin, crisp, biscuity pastry base held a gooey sticky-sweet filling. The tart was served warm which prevented it from being heavy, an orange-flavoured custard added a slightly different element to this old-fashioned pudding and the marmalade ice cream provided a hint of bitterness, which counteracted all that sugar perfectly. All in all, a delicious, well thought-out dessert.
The food at Rhodes Twenty 10 is simple, well executed and prepared with quality ingredients. That much cannot be contested. But each dish consists of only one or two elements, and is the type of food that can be prepared at home, without too much difficulty. I'm not suggesting that it would taste every bit as good, but you could certainly have a go. When the prices are in this sort of realm, each dish should leave you feeling excited and beguiled, they should cause you to ponder just how on earth the chef achieved such a culinary feat. While my meal here was very enjoyable, I'm afraid that this just wasn't the case.
A meal for two at Rhodes Twenty 10, Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa, Dubai, including service, cost Dh727. Reservations 04 316 5550. Reviews are conducted anonymously and meals are paid for by The National.