With Christmas just around the corner, here's our lowdown on restaurants serving everything from traditional turkey dinners to al fresco barbecues, and where to call to order festive food to your home.
With Christmas just around the corner, Emily Shardlow has the lowdown on restaurants serving everything from traditional turkey dinners to al fresco barbecues, and where to call to order festive food to your home
Christmas is fast approaching and with it comes an array of dining options. Whether you'd prefer to eat out but eschew turkey completely, have a roast with all the trimmings delivered to your door, or choose from a festive barbecue while eating al fresco, we've rounded up a variety of choices for December 25.
If stuffing and sprouts are not sophisticated enough for your festive meal, but a sense of indulgence is still important, then the oysters and caviar menu on offer at Cavalli Club in Dubai (04 332 9260) might appeal. Guests are invited to sample the two delicacies in the lounge or make their way into the restaurant, where the à la carte offerings are similarly decadent - think beef tartare with caviar and veloute of Tsarskaya oysters with angels on horseback.
For something a little more relaxed, and to spend Christmas Day in the sun, then head to Maya by Richard Sandoval at Le Royal Meridien Dubai (04 316 5550) to try its Mexican-inspired sharing menu, dance to the house band and enjoy both beach and pool access.
Of course, Abu Dhabi residents can also enjoy Christmas beach-side, and the festive barbecue at the Beach House in the newly opened Park Hyatt on Saadiyat Island (02 407 1234) should more than fit the bill. Look out over the sand, take in the views of the Arabian Gulf, nod along to the DJ and sample Mediterranean-style dishes including marinated tiger prawns with spicy gazpacho, tuna steak with cracked black pepper, pumpkin and lentil salad with za'atar and pomegranate dressing.
The Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 448 4870) sounds like an excellent choice for dining with children. Brunch at its AOC restaurant features plenty for the grown-ups (truffle-roasted turkey, beef Wellington, seafood and sushi) and a special kids' menu, complete with chocolate fondue. The Christmas choir strikes up at 1.30pm and Santa is said to be visiting. For children aged 5-10, it is also holding a mini-chef Christmas cooking class with gingerbread cookie-making and decorating.
Just up the road, meanwhile, the Movenpick Jumeirah Beach (04 449 8888) is inviting guests to try its Nordic Lights buffet on Christmas evening. They promise plenty of candles, green firs and shimmering snow, as well as a menu inspired by Sweden and a kids' corner.
The InterContinental in Abu Dhabi (0800 42 3463) is putting on a festive lunch buffet complete with all the trimmings at Selections, or for a taste of Italy, try Boccaccio, where you can sit outside while drinking in the marina views.
Also serving Italian festive fare is Amici at the Yas Viceroy hotel on Yas Island (02 656 0600), offering dishes such as warm Parmesan fondant with black truffle and chicken liver purée; turkey with pumpkin; potato flan and porcini mushrooms and a chocolate-and-coffee dome with orange dust.
For sheer variety - a good bet for pleasing a large group of fussy friends or relatives - the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr's (02 654 3238) Monumental Brunch allows guests to select signature dishes and holiday favourites from four of its restaurants. The hotel's Chameleon lounge will be transformed into a winter wonderland with activities put on for children, live music and another visit from Father Christmas.
If, on the other hand, that all sounds rather too gluttonous, then Balance Cafe (04 515 4051) in Dubai's Oasis Centre is offering a festive menu with a healthy slant. The food here is influenced by ancient ayurvedic and macrobiotic concepts, with the focus on wellness and calorie content. Who knows, it might just mean that rather than feeling sluggish and sleepy after this year's Christmas meal, you could leave thoroughly revitalised instead.
The Ivy in Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8767) is serving lunch and dinner on Christmas Day and here, tradition rules supreme. The menu reads like a homage to British Christmas classics: think smoked salmon, turkey or beef roast with all the trimmings, mince pies, trifle, Stilton cheese and more - all elegantly presented, of course.
For tradition with a bit of a twist, the lunch and dinner menu at one of Dubai's newest restaurants, Table 9 at the Hilton Dubai Creek (04 212 7550), promises to have a bit of fun with the old favourites - parsnip cream with smoked chestnuts, lobster cocktail, ginger panna cotta with raspberries and elderflower and homemade sweets from the bon bon trolley all make an appearance.
If you're dining at home, but feel that you might like a little (or a lot) of help with the Christmas meal, there are plenty of options. Anise restaurant at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City (04 701 1127) will not only cook the turkey, but all the trimmings you could possibly want, including roasted Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, beef chipolatas wrapped in turkey bacon, grandma's home-style roast potatoes and chestnut stuffing. If turkey is not your thing, then the roasted grass-fed beef striploin - served with Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese, onion marmalade and horseradish cream - among other accompaniments - might just make Christmas dinner seem a bit more appealing.
Both the InterContinental and the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi are running similar "Take Home the Turkey" promotions, as are Jones the Grocer (email: email@example.com). The cafe is also selling Christmas puddings, mince pies and both themed (high tea, sweet indulgence, Spanish, cheese lovers delight) and bespoke festive hampers, which would make an excellent present for a food enthusiast.
As well as producing a range of Christmas hampers filled with homemade goodies - relishes, jams, fudge, biscuits, biscotti, honey roasted nuts, Christmas pudding and more - you can also pre-order a number of different platters from the Lime Tree Cafe and Kitchen (04 325 6325). The deluxe festive cheese board features a great selection of cheeses as well as grapes, cashew nuts, dried fruit, crackers, crostini and biscotti and with The Festive One platter it's given classic Christmas ingredients a Lime Tree makeover: turkey breast is served with brie, cranberry relish, crispy cheese balls, candied walnuts, artisan bread and herbed crackers.
Baker & Spice in Dubai (04 427 9856) is offering an excellent service for anyone who decides to take on the challenge of cooking the majority of the festive meal themselves, but requires a little help with the extras. Order 48 hours in advance and it will deliver a whole host of accompaniments to your door, from roast potatoes with fresh za'atar and cumin butter to organic barley and fresh cranberry stuffing with celery and herbs, and organic marzipan truffles rolled in walnuts and cocoa.