With my dining partner and I both on different high protein diets, where better to go for dinner than a steakhouse? After much debate, we settled on MJ's Steakhouse in Dubai, and we're so glad we did.
We were greeted with a hot, lemon-scented towel, a lovely touch that will certainly be welcome in the hot weather. Romantically lit, the interior had a cosmopolitan yet comforting feel to it. The terrace, where we had booked our table, proved a huge contrast to the indoors. With terracota tiles, whirring wooden fans and wrought iron, Spanish-style furniture, it was like stepping into Hemingway's Cuba.
Our starters arrived so promptly we were startled. The jumbo crab cake my partner ordered was a perfectly blended triumph of crunchy and soft. While she enthused over its freshness and flawless presentation, I somewhat grumpily tucked into my prawn cocktail. Don't misunderstand; there was nothing wrong with it, but I had been expecting it to be, dare I say, a little ironic. I got what I asked for: a prawn cocktail.
There was a little flurry of excitement at our table when our waiter invited us to choose our "weapons". From a glass presentation case, you get to choose what kind of steak knife you want to use. The waiter had an excellent knowledge of the variety of steaks on offer. I decided on a 300gm Rib Eye 250 Day Grain Fed Angus. I know steak connoisseurs and chefs across the country may weep, but I like my steak medium well. And MJ's did it perfectly. The steak was tender, juicy and unadorned with spices - just how it should be. I chose the creamy peppercorn sauce to go with it. We also got to choose from an array of mustards.
My partner chose the Grilled Colorado Lamb, and was given the option of it served in a rack or sliced into chops. We raised eyebrows at each other over the table as it arrived because we were expecting more lamb for our dirhams. As it turned out, it was the perfect amount of meat and any more would have been too much. It tasted delicious with a crispy outer layer and soft pink meat at the centre of each chop.
We decided to share the side dishes. The Provenšal Portobello mushrooms were so delicious that we had to order some more; the broccolini, which was smothered in garlic butter, had just the right density of crunch. The steamed vegetables were unremarkable, as was the "Mac n Cheese", which again, was presented without irony.
On seeing the dessert menu, I tossed aside any notions I had of Harcombe, Dukan or Atkins and went straight for the sticky toffee pudding with date ice cream. It was heavenly. The pudding was partnered perfectly with the ice cream, which was creamy and smooth, the dates turned slightly hard in the chill. My partner resolutely stuck to her diet and ordered a beautiful selection from the abundant cheese cart.
We left feeling warm, thoroughly satisfied and well looked after. As I found it quite pricey, MJ's is somewhere I would only go to celebrate a special occasion. It would be a great place to bring your out-of-town visitors or for special family celebrations. Hurry and book your terrace table before it gets too hot.
A meal for two, of starters, mains and desserts, came to Dh900. MJ's Steakhouse is located in Al Qasr hotel in Dubai. For reservations, call 04 366 6730. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and all reviews are conducted incognito
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