There was a time when I could not have named seven fine dining restaurants in Dubai. Now, restricting myself to seven is a challenge. But here they are: La Petite Maison, Reflets Par Pierre Gagniere, Traiteur, Nobu, STAY, Rhodes Mezzanine and Indego.
They are not reported in any particular order for a variety of reasons: for one, I cannot decide and for another, I have not actually eaten at all of them, so I am relying on the recommendations of others.
La Petite Maison
This is a restaurant I have eaten at many times. It is beautifully designed. The bar with its sparkling mirror reflecting all the bottles and hints of the activities at the other tables is more inviting than I would have thought, placed as it is along one wall of the restaurant. There is nothing secluded or cozy about it, but perhaps that is why it is such a pleasurable place to have a pre-dinner drink.
The menu is extensive and boasts a few must haves. The onion tart is sensational and asparagus no less delicious. The burrata is as good as I can find in the market in Italy. The mushroom dishes are described as seasonal mushrooms rather than that standby of lesser restaurants – wild mushrooms. The mains include pasta, seafood and steak dishes as well as an extensive selection of vegetables. This is always a mark of a good restaurant to me, a plentiful supply of vegetable dishes.
As long as you limit your alcohol consumption, this is not an excessively expensive restaurant. The most expensive mains are AED320 but many are much less than that. There is little point in my giving advice on deserts, as I am seldom impressed by deserts, with two exceptions one of which I will discuss below.
Reflets Par Pierre Gagniere
This is probably the best French restaurant in Dubai. The décor is a little too flamboyant for my tastes, but one complaint I would never make here is that the tables are too close together. In fact, each table is situated in such a way that you get the feeling it is your party and only your party in the restaurant tonight. That feeling is enhanced by the service which is perfectly pitched – helpful but not intrusive.
The food is rather expensive, but the set menu paired with wine at AED1,300 is about the same as it was last time I paid to go there five years ago. Recent visits have been at the expense of others, thankfully. The food is meticulously prepared and served; the waiter will tell you every one of the fifteen ingredients if you will let him, but I am just not that interested. Does it taste good? Yes, it does, but the last time I was there I felt bloated with sugar by the end of the meal as the finale was a medley of deserts when I would have preferred more of the savory items. If you love French fine dining and pastries, this is the best restaurant in Dubai for you.
Traiteur is very high on my list of places to eat in Dubai. The original décor is still in place but the seating has improved and in the right weather, the restaurant spreads out into the courtyard beside the Dubai Creek.
The menu is not large, nor is it excessively expensive by Dubai standards. If you sit inside, it is possible to see the immaculate kitchen in action as the chefs prepare your orders. It is rather like a meal and theatre combined.
I am usually inclined to order fish, but the meat dishes here are delicious and the smell of the chargrill often tempts me to order meat. The natural flavors of the ingredients stand out as this is good French cooking devoid of pretensions. There are enough vegetable dishes on offer to silence any potential complaints, but once again, I have little to add about the deserts.
The Friday Brunch is expensive but a great experience.
I love Japanese food. I lived in Japan for four years and ate in some excellent restaurants. Nobu is famous all around the world and has made a big splash at the Atlantis Hotel. Perhaps it is not fine dining in the traditional sense, but it is one place where you can have a sensational dining experience in Dubai, if at a price. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has combined his classically trained concepts of Japanese cuisine with South American delights.
So it is fusion, but fusion in the hands of an acknowledged expert. The black cod and miso is very good. And although I was deeply suspicious initially, the tacos are also great. The menu is huge, but the cost soon adds up as each portion is not large.
Nobu will always stand out for me, here it comes, because the mochi ice cream desert has to be one of the best deserts I have ever eaten, even better than baked rice pudding.
STAY is strategically placed in the One & Only Royal Mirage, a hotel and residence complex on Jumeirah Beach. As its original conception – the Royal Mirage – it was to my mind the best hotel in Dubai 14 years or so ago. Others must have agreed as the complex has expanded well beyond its original conception and become more exclusive with each new development. STAY serves delicious food and has the only pastry library in Dubai, maybe in the world. So for French pastry lovers, this is a great recommendation.
Table 9 looks like a cross between fine dining and upmarket bistro. It is the brainchild of Gordon Ramsay protégés, Nick Alvis & Scott Price.
This is an Indian restaurant created by Michelin-starred Indian chef Vineet Bhatia. It has a very authentic Indian feel due to the décor which is elegant with just the right touches of Indian charm, and it offers top quality Indian food. Although there are hundreds of Indian restaurants in Dubai, this is one worth saving for a special occasion. It is pricey as Indian restaurants go, but this is a different Indian experience and worth the extra expense.