Restaurants in Dubai


Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates, which consists of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and four other tiny former kingdoms) has astutely realised that one day the oil will run out, so they had better think of how else to make a living.  The one other useful asset they have is guaranteed sun and sand, ideal as a beach resort.  The city has about 2 million people of which a remarkable 70% are expatriates, a genuinely cosmopolitan place with a particularly high Indian population (Dubai is at the eastern end of the Gulf, not that far from India).  The city is very modern, and indeed until this century was just a village of mud huts, so don’t expect any great architectural treasures here.  Even the gold souk is now an air-conditioned shopping mall of jewellery shops, which of course is very practical but not in line with one’s Lawrence of Arabia-fuelled fantasies.   The wealth of the place means there are plenty of restaurants, some of a high standard.  Don’t be put off by the fact that most restaurants are in hotels – this is simply because hotels are allowed to serve alcohol, albeit at fiercely taxed mark-ups.  As a distraction from the beach you can head off into the desert and drive up and down sand dunes, but that is pretty much the limit of the things to see unless you are keen on camel racing. There is a small zoo with desert animals as well as the usual suspects, and on our visit in 2003, two lion cubs that we were allowed to play with (an enchanting experience).  There is little public transport but taxis are plentiful and cheap.  


Dubai is relaxed by Muslim standards, and about the only thing to remember is not to eat or drink in the street during Ramadam.   If you are not too bothered about alcohol then your visit will be a lot cheaper, since mark-ups are daunting.  A beer in a hotel will cost from £4 to £7, while wine is strictly for rock stars and investment bankers.  A Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, which can be obtained retail in the UK for less than £10 if you look hard enough, was on one wine list at £160.  Another wine, the basic Cotes du Rhone from Guigal, which is a bit more than a fiver in the UK in the high street, was at £40, and that was the bargain of the list (one side effect is that you will go back to London restaurants and for a couple of days think “wow, only three times retail, what a bargain” before sanity sets in again).  The weather is excellent from November to March, with temperatures when we went at the very beginning of March around 25-30 Celsius, but it was getting warmer by the day, and in the summer temperatures of 50 Celsius are common.  January and February are “winter” at around 20 Celsius or so, and while there are rain storms here their annual rainfall would barely register as a wet day in Manchester. Be aware that the weekend here starts Thursday, and there is indeed a “TGI Thursday”.


Hotels are very classy, with even clapped out chains like the Hilton somehow offering genuinely stylish surroundings here.  At the top end there is only one choice, the Burj Al Arab – see my notes: Hotels


Gordon Ramsey at Verre

Address:          Hilton Dubai Creek, P.O Box 33398, Dubai

Telephone:      +971 (4) 227 1111


There’s no getting away from him.  A team from Gordon’s main restaurant London opened here in 2001, and I have to say they are doing a very fine job indeed, producing a meal better than can be had at either Claridges or the Connaught in London (both under Ramsey’s supervision).  The dining room is on the first floor at the surprisingly sleek and sophisticated Hilton in bustling Dubai Creek (I never thought I’d have sleek and Hilton in one sentence, but there you are).  The dining room is modern and elegant, with top-class white linen tablecloths – you have to pinch yourself to realise you are not in London.  An amuse guile of chilled pea soup was rich and excellent, and the breads here are baked fresh and delicious.  Sea scallops were roasted and served with a superb caper and raisin dressing (sounds odd but it worked) and with baby raisin beignets giving a texture balance, along with a silky cauliflower puree – the sharp taste of the capers was an excellent foil to the gentle flavours of the cauliflower puree and scallops (8/10).  Ravioli of lobster and salmon had excellent pasta and high quality salmon and lobster, a little marjoram adding a well chosen additional dimension, with an intensely flavoured veloute of lobster (7/10).  John Dory was roasted and served with wild mushrooms and an elegant veloute of ceps, with a little brandade of the John Dory on the side (8/10).  Halibut was pan fried and offered with another fine ravioli, this time of langoustines, with a Sauternes sauce and a little oscietra caviar.  There is a cheese board but you can’t get unpasteurised cheese here, so I skipped this.  The service is excellent and even the coffee is top notch.  Just don’t read the prices on the wine list or it will ruin your evening.  The food itself for two came to under £90, and there is a long tasting menu fro about £50, so this represents excellent value apart from the alcohol.


Overall an easy 7/10, pushing 8/10.   Last visited: March 2003.




Address:          Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers

Telephone:      +971 (4) 228 11 11


Rated in a couple of surveys the best Indian restaurant in Dubai.  It has fairly tasteful décor with lots of wood panelling, and even had live Indian music on the evening we visited.  The food is genuinely good, with tandoori dishes such as chicken tikka capably executed, and curries with good quality ingredients and careful use of spices.  Breads were very good and portions generous.  Prices are rather high, and although we just drank four bottles of beer the price was still £100 for two, which is pretty steep (I suppose the sitar player added to the bill).  However the food is genuinely good and the service excellent. 


Overall 3/10.  Last visited March 2003



Address:          Sheraton Jumeira Beach Hotel & Towers

Telephone:      +971 4 3995533


A Chinese restaurant that is generally reckoned to be the best in Dubai.  It managed fair dim sum, though the dumplings were just a little chewy, while Szechaun prawns were well cooked as a main course.  However bak choi were horribly overcooked, and overall this is pleasant at best.  Service is excellent and prices just about tolerable, and they did have excellent Jasmine tea.  Worth a look if you are craving Chinese food, but don’t make a detour for this place. 


Overall just under 1/10.  Last visited March 2003.


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