Our summer guide to eating out in the UAE
From new restaurant openings and updated menus to special deals and discounts, we have your meals out covered
It happens every year. While some restaurants shut shop for summertime renovations (think Roberto’s and Hakkasan Dubai), several others open in their stead. Established eateries, meanwhile, often add to or update their dishes, as well as offer set menus at discounted rates. Here’s where you can dine out this season.
Cult New York burger joint Black Tap opened at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi on July 12. Known for its craft burgers, which are made from high-quality and high-quantity ingredients, the eatery offers its award-winning Greg Norman Burger (Wagyu beef and blue cheese) and the all-natural Californian (turkey, avocado, Swiss cheese and truffle mayo). Vegetarian options include falafel and vegan options, the latter made from a black bean patty, pickled onions, salsa verde, coriander and vegan mayo. Burgers aside, Black Tap is also famed for its elaborate, Instagrammable CrazyShakes (Dh70) – supersized milkshakes that can best be described as a unicorn’s fantasy in the land of chocolate. Sandwiches are priced from Dh75 to Dh125 a pop.
Another newcomer to Yas Mall, Urban Retreat is the city’s first food incubator, which gathers a dozen food vendors from across the UAE in a fun, quirky settings that includes a dedicated area for children. The vendors will change every three months, and at present include Mr Brisket, Off the Hook, Casa Latina, Tawa Bakery, Firefly Burger, Piddza, Chez Moe Café, Roll-Ups and Bubble Waffles by Sukkar Dose (the Nutella and strawberry roll-up is divine), Hue Artisan Pasta, Fatteh O Salata and Casa De Churros. “We want to develop a social and unpretentious space, which can act as a hub for the local community and a platform for home-grown food vendors, and that offers an ever-changing experience for diners so that all tastes and palates will be catered for,” founder Dana Al Sharif explains.
In Dubai, beachfront destination La Mer will be home to the first international branch of London restaurant Osh from August. The eatery, which will have a beverage and shisha licence, offers Central Asian dishes with a focus on Uzbek cuisine. While the Dubai menu has not been fixed, some favourites we hope to sample include: surmi rolls (cabbage rolls with meat and truffle); red plum tomato salsa and marinated for 24 hours with sushi ginger; duck and lemongrass shashlik; and Uzbeki plov (lamb with spiced rice, carrots, peppers and garlic); plus Polish angel wings (deep-fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar).
The House Party Bar
For a fun night out, check out The House Party Bar, which opened at the Fairmont in Dubai last month. The retro-themed venue includes posters of Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas; VHS and cassette tapes; space hoppers; and a game room with arcade-style Pac Man, Super Mario and Nintendo. The soundtrack channels the 1990s with tunes by everyone from Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys to NSync. The mainly American-style bites start from Dh40, and include the Home Alone burger, Dip Me Baby One More Time mozzarella sticks, I Don’t Wanna Miss a Wing, Truffle Shuffle pizza and the American Apple Pie.
If tacos are more your thing, sample the new dishes at Poco Loco at The Beach in Dubai. The Latin American restaurant has revamped its menu to include crispy shrimp and duck confit tacos, as well as smashed potato tostadas, from Dh70. Also new are three arroces (rice dishes), with seafood and baby chicken, plus La Poblana Veggie, a vegetarian option for Dh100. The dessert menu, priced between Dh40 and Dh50, sees additions such as sweet nachos with pomegranate seeds, red berries dip, pistachio ice cream and chocolate sauce; the Cuban Delight citrus yogurt tart with smoked foam and a cactus macaroon; and Tres Leches, a triple milk-soaked sponge with lemon cream and pistachio.
Fans of Italian food can head to Segreto at Souk Madinat, which has a three-course set menu for Dh150. Start with a mozzarella salad, followed by a sinful-looking wild mushroom risotto and vanilla passion fruit panna cotta for dessert.
Le Petite Maison
A new risotto flavour – with fresh pea purée for Dh140 – is available to try at Le Petite Maison, which has added French regional classics that make the most seasonal ingredients from various parts of France. “The risotto is also garnished with grilled cuttlefish and smoked almond, either or both of which can be omitted; a vino-free version is also available upon request,” says general manager Frank Serroul. Also new to the menu are a colourful broad bean salad with spicy mozzarella, chillies, skin-scorched cherry tomatoes and a lemon confit (Dh95); an artichoke salad with mushrooms and Beaufort cheese (Dh135); and flaked salmon rillettes with leeks, shallots and sour cream, drizzled in butter and seasoned with bay leaf, chives and peppercorns, and served with homemade salted crisps (Dh150).
Pure Sky, the rooftop lounge in JBR, has upped its Asian food game, with a menu that includes flavours from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Dishes include Gado-Gado salad, spicy banana blossoms salad and crab cakes for starters, and Soto Ayam chicken soup (from Dh49); and elaborate-sounding mains such as pan-seared duck breast garnished in nyonya sauce, and served with spinach potato cake, fennel and orange pickle (Dh98); and Singaporean-style braised lotus root, served with young leeks, textures of mushroom and crispy Thai basil (Dh68).
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, too, has added a selection of one-off dishes in the form of its Only at the Palace menu. Comprised of small eats, main dishes and desserts, the newbies include Atlantic scallop, Wagyu beef salad, Dover sole fish and orange creme cheese, and is priced between Dh75 and Dh335 per dish.
For Asian food that’s slightly more reasonable, sample the Noodle House’s South Korean dishes being served until August 17. The three-course set menu, priced at Dh105 for vegetarians and Dh125 for meat-lovers, includes a mocktail, starter, main course and dessert. Whet your appetite with a glass of the refreshing Korean brew sikhye – a malted rice drink stirred with jujube berries – before moving on to traditional mandu dumplings made with vegetables, ginger oil and kimchi. Bibimbap, vegetarian or with slow-cooked BBQ beef back ribs, makes up the main course, while dessert is a rich honey cake.
Casa de Tapas
For Spanish fare, look to Casa de Tapas at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, which has an impressive 16 new dishes, starting from Dh26. Highlights from the cold tapas menu include Coca De Vegetales Rustidos Y Queso Semi Curado (aromatic sautéed vegetables and semi-cured goat’s cheese served on thin slices of bread) and Ensalada de Pato (mixed Asian duck breast salad served with lettuce, goat’s cheese, pico bread, cherry tomatoes, walnuts and a blackberry dressing). From the hot tapas menu, the chef recommends Pescaito Frito (deep-fried whitebait fish Andalusian style); Tigres Rellenos De Marisco (stuffed mussels and seafood mix sautéed in creamy white sauce); and Empanada De Atun (puff pastry stuffed with tuna, tomatoes and onions). If you have any space left, sample Bacalao Gratinado (baked cod fish with aioli dressing and potatoes) for mains and Tarta De Manzana Con Helado (a traditional Spanish apple tart with creamy vanilla ice cream and apple sauce).
Updated: July 19, 2018 09:58 AM