I have a plan….
I’m getting sick of my family rolling my eyes every time I take an SLR to a restaurant and get embarrassingly snap-happy. I’m also tired of editing photos for hour upon hour, because it’s near impossible to get a good photo without flash (too intrusive) and a tripod (too wanky) at dinner time in a restaurant that isn’t lit like the Dubai International Airport terminals.
So I’m going to save my restaurant posts for the really really special events only.
But I’ve got plenty of information to share – a few places I go to that I think you must try (and some that should probably be avoided), and so I’m starting a new series of posts. Each month I’ll give you a run-down of where I’ve been, and what’s going on in this like of a Dubai glutton. If anyone wants any more information on anything I mention, please let me know – I’d be happy to illuminate in the comments.
I’d been pretty tempted to try Fume since salivating over Neil Walton’s gallery in the Spring issue of Food e Mag. It’s pronounced Fyoomay – like the french for ‘smoked’, but for some reason, whenever I hear myself say that, it sounds horrendously pretentious. It’s got that urban-rustic feel that’s incredibly popular in London right now, and similar food – street food on your plate in the main – stuff like empanadas, brisket buns and fried chicken, desserts in jars and drinks in chunky tumblers. Surprisingly cheap drinks – the only place in Dubai Marina where you can get a bottle of wine on the table for 120AED, I would wager. Service a bit spotty but friendly overall. No reservations, but a great bar alongside if you have to wait. Turn up at 7 and you’ll probably get a seat straight away.
I’ve got to the stage now where this is the only place I will eat with my kids while on a regular Friday summer outing (of course, outside activities most definitely not de rigueur in 45 degree weather). Although the customary greeting of the entire restaurant staff “irasshaimase” is starting to grate on me a little. The kids fill up on tempura corn fritters and salmon off the robata grill while I stuff my gob with crispy rice and spicy tuna, and some very decent sashimi. We all fight over the beef hot pots (bops) until I drown them in chilli sauce. There are also some good ‘kids meals’, which fortunately are not pizza and chicken nuggets. Lovely mocktail selection and good service. Views of the fountains with outdoor fans if you are brave.
Cafes and Casual:
In the land of the wonderful shawarma, it’s pretty hard to get a bad wrap, granted, but this one really takes them to another level of scrumptiousness. Introduced to me by Foodiva the other night, when I asked her to bring a plate of food over that goes with grenache (more below). I really couldn’t have cooked anything better after several hours in the kitchen, and the lamb ones worked beautifully with our D’Arenberg Custodian. Pakistani style roti wraps with lamb or chicken, and salads. In Dubai Media City (inside Aswaaq supermarket), Media One Hotel, Tecom (Al Shafar 1) and Impact Hub (Souk Al Bahar offices). Cheap and good.
It’s become our favourite for pizza deliveries – it’s not cheap, at 45AED a pizza, but they are one of the best ones you’ll find in Dubai, and their location near me means they are still hot and crisp when they get here. Dine-in is isn’t bad either – a few good salads and reasonable pasta dishes, nice interior and a good terrace for when it cools down.
If Katsuya is where I go when I’m in the Dubai Mall with my family, this is where I go when I’m on my lonesome. Rather than a guilty sneaky lunch, this is the opposite – raw, vegan, paleo and all made from scratch. If you manage to find a main course over 250 calories on the menu, I’ll buy it for you. Not only that, it’s really quite delicious. Serious! Only downside, the menu doesn’t change much. But I suppose it’s hard to make endless yummy combinations out of raw vegetables and nuts. Bravo.
This is celebrated on the third friday of September, which happened to be the one just been, and I was fortunate enough to have Sally, Samantha and Drina (their esteemed blogs linked) over for a wee drinkie. We drank our way through a d’Arenberg Custodian Grenache, a Les Hauts de Castelmaure Corbieres, a Domaine des Sénéchaux Châteauneuf-du-Pape and a Salmos Priorat from Torres – all 2011 vintage. Sally has a review of the wines on her blog here, all I’d add is that the Sénéchaux basically wiped the floor with the others, the Salmos was a little dominated by cloyingly sweet oak, the Corbieres was as soft as velvet and a bargain at 70AED, and the Custodian, which I have loved at other times when tasted on it’s own, came off a little insipid in the mix. Very basic and over-generalised lesson learned? Unless you prefer leaner red styles, only buy 100% Grenache if it’s very expensive (super-wines like Sine Qua Non, Clarendon Hills or Torbreck – or some Chateauneufs, which are 100%) otherwise you’ll probably be better off with a blend.
Merlot Me – October 10
Champagne Day – October 24
Riesling day – Nov 15
Beaujolais Day – Nov 20
Sauvignon Blanc Day – May 15
Chardonnay Day – May 23
Pinot Noir Day – August 18
Cabernet Day – August 29
All are approximate dates of course, subject to the whims of winos and tribulations of twitter. And if you want to give it all up, just go for #WineWednesday. Or you could have a look at Matt Wall’s wine blog, where he has created a daily wine celebration for the year. My birthday coincides with Rauchling however so I’m going to ignore it and continue on drinking Champagne whenever I damn well please.