Our recent trip to Dubai was spontaneity at it’s best. My brother and dad were going to be there, S had half term coming up and pre Ramadan we got a great deal, so we booked on a Sunday afternoon and flew out on the Friday morning.
S and I visited Dubai in December 2014 and although we were there for 2 weeks, I was ill for a lot of it and it wasn’t the best time, weather wise. This trip on the other hand was fantastic. We fit quite a lot in, the heat was bearable and we’re home now with lots of memories, new experiences and fab tans😉
On this post I’m going to focus on all the best places to eat/drink/stay in Dubai. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton DIFC which is as central as it gets. Getting a cab was never an issue (there’s a metro station close by too), Dubai mall was a 5 minute drive away and the service was second to none. The staff were attentive, polite and went out of their way to make our stay as comfortable as possible. Breakfast was included in our package and they had everything you could think of. A selection of breads and pastries, yoghurts, smoothies and museli pots. Dim sum, sushi, cold cuts, cheese and mezze. A selection of fresh fruit, an Indian counter (that changed daily), a live cooking station that made eggs (however you like them), waffles and pancakes. There was a good variety of both vegetarian and non vegetarian options.
As soon as I told my friend A I was coming to Dubai, she got booking different restaurants and when I finally got there, she said the only place we *had* to go to was Catch. Catch opened last year and is located in the Fairmont Hotel, 5 minutes drive from where we were staying. Paying homage to the original Catch in New York, the decor is quite eccelectic with exposed brick wall covered in graffiti and soft leather interiors. We had the Crispy Shrimp, the Lobster mash, the Hell Fire roll, Wagyu on the rock and the Truffle Mushroom Spaghetti.
If there’s one thing that I should warn you about, it’s the portion sizes in Dubai. Everything is huge!!
The Hell fire roll was so good I forgot to take a picture before devouring it, The Truffle Mushroom Spaghetti was really yummy (especially the hint of truffle) but quite heavy. Wagyu on the rock with an accompanying teriyaki dip just melted in your mouth. I think we over ordered slightly and I wasn’t able to enjoy the Lobster mash as it was far too heavy for my liking. The Crispy Shrimp was good (although it had a touch too much mayo) and the size of the portion (given that it’s a starter) was overwhelming.
On the Sunday we spent the day at the Mall of Emirates and had lunch with my cousin at The Cheesecake Factory. I actually wanted to take S to ski Dubai (an excuse to go myself!!) but as I expected, he chose to spend time with my niece L rather than go snowboarding and so that’s what we did (she really is the cutest!). We were lucky to get a booth overlooking Ski Dubai where I got to watch everything I was missing out on😉 I ordered the Chicken Strips and Chips for S and my mum and I ordered the lunch sets (the menu said they were smaller portions). I can tell you, the menu was wrong. I had the Santa Fe salad and she had a sandwich and a bowl of soup which came with a green salad. My cousin got to us late but looking at the portions (which we all ended up sharing), she ordered the garlic stuffed mushrooms. My salad was great: very fresh with a zingy dressing and a nice crunch offered by the pieces of fried noodles in it.
On Sunday evening, my brother, mum and I went to the Sunken Garden at the Ritz for a drink before walking over to La Petit Masion at DIFC for dinner. The Sunken Garden is an outdoor venue but in typical Dubai fashion, it’s temperate controlled. So although I knew it was a balmy 25 degrees, it felt like it was 18 degrees. Dubai…never ceases to amaze! I’ve never been to La Petit Maison in London so was quite excited to be checking out the Dubai version. We had the warm prawns in olive oil (divine!), the fresh lobster and crab salad (fresh and delicious!), the burrata (melts in your mouth deliciousness!), the lentil salad (perfectly cooked and very well seasoned) and The Arrabiatta (can’t say I thought much about this dish!).
On the Monday my friend A suggested we take S to The Rainforest Cafe. She’d taken him to the one in London for his birthday last year and although the restaurant in London is quite dated, he enjoyed the experience. Being a whole year older, he enjoyed it even more this time. And like everything in Dubai, it was amazing. Being a much newer version of the restaurant, it was brighter and the “thunder storms” and “animal acts” were a lot more real. But the piece de resistance was the fact that the whole front of the restaurant looked on to the massive Aquarium in the centre of Dubai mall. So not only did we feel like we were in an actual rainforest with monkeys shaking trees and a snake slithering down on us at the entrance, but we got to eat watching sharks and stingrays swim by. It’s an experience no child will forget.
On the Tuesday my mum, S and I spent the day at Dubai mall and had lunch at Markette. It’s a casual cafe style restaurant in the middle of the mall, opposite the Aquarium (my favourite part of the mall). Having learnt our lesson about the portion sizes, I ordered a starter of grilled chicken skewers with salad and humous, my mum ordered a chicken burger from the children’s menu and S had the fish and chips. I was hoping to save some space for frozen yoghurt but even with just a starter portion, I was well and truly stuffed.
On Tuesday night we were invited out by some family friends to Tresind. My dear readers, if there is one place you go to when you visit Dubai, let this be it. Molecular Gastronomy! It’s not just a meal, it’s an experience. They call themselves “Modern Indian” but it’s really “Scientifically Brilliant Indian”. We started with some pani puri bites that had been transformed into jelly. It was literally an explosion of taste in your mouth. We then went on to have the chaat trolley, the lamb shank, some mock meat, a really tasty dry chicken dish, the mushroom steak and the deconstructed black forest cake (which was worth every bite!). It is progressive dining at it’s best!
On Thursday we spent the day at Atlantis on the Palm and we left on Friday. Look out for my post on things to do with kids in Dubai, next week! Here’s a teaser…
Have you been to Dubai? Do you have any amazing restaurant recommendations?