Nad's Guide To Dining Restaurant Review

Nad’s Guide To Dining in Dubai

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As the 2016 edition of Nad’s Guide to Dining in Beirut approaches (see 2013 and 2014 here), I thought I’d do something different and create a Dubai edition based on my recent trip a few weeks back. Be sure to check out my previous Dubai roundups featuring Zuma and the rest here and here.

Maine Oyster Bar & Grill
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With its unique design touches and trendy ambiance, Maine Oyster Bar is definitely a memorable dining experience. Apart from a few missteps like the char-grilled octopus and truffle pizza (both are average), the food is excellent if you choose the right stuff. Share the spicy shrimp linguini, the epic fish tacos, and the flavorful halibut, and then finish off with the superb Rocky Road brownie and key lime pie for dessert. Did I say it was light?
Nad Rating
A-

Zheng He’s
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The first thing you should know about Zheng He’s is that it’s absolutely beautiful. The outdoor terrace feels like it popped right out of a movie: dangling red lanterns, a stunning moat with boats floating by, and a gorgeous view of Burj Khalifa as it cycles through an array of colorful lights. As for the food? It’s a bit uneven for Chinese cuisine. The starters are excellent (order the Golden King Prawns, The Scallop Dumplings, and the Barbecue Honey Chicken Puffs) but the mains lack distinct flavors and the desserts are forgettable. Nevertheless the outdoor ambiance is so perfect for a group setting (especially family dinners) that it makes the entire experience worthwhile.
Nad Rating
B

Burger & Lobster
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I had enormously high hopes going into Burger & Lobster, and I wasn’t disappointed. The ambiance could be better – it looks like just another diner – but the lobster roll (generously bathed in Japanese mayo) is phenomenal and the fries are just right. Be sure to bookend the meal in satisfyingly fatty fashion by ordering the Tresleches Cake and the double-chocolate brownie. You’re welcome!
Nad Rating
A-

La Ser
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I so wanted to love La Ser; the outdoor patio is slick and the vibe is all-around hip. However, the service is utterly disastrous, and the terrific Eggs Benedict (of which there are lots of in Dubai) wasn’t mindblowing enough to make up for all the neglect we endured. It didn’t help that the chocolate waffle was a horrible ending to the meal, with a distinct egg taste and a laughable portion of sauce (I think they measured exactly three drops of wannabe Nutella). Fail!
Nad Rating
C-

The Foodsters Inc
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If you haven’t heard of The Foodsters Inc, they’re a family owned culinary house with a number of funky food trucks each with its own name and luscious specialities. Over the course of two events, I sampled some outstanding creations including a spicy burger from Burgeritch, a plate of succulent smoked ribs from Shmokins, and a delicious pulled-beef burger from The Shebi. If you ever spot one of their treat trucks, grab hold and never let go!
Nad Rating
A

Tashas
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Nestled in the very low-key Galleria mall on Al Wasl Road, Tashas is a top-notch South African franchise with one hell of a breakfast. The poached eggs with a side of bacon and sausage are just perfect, while the staff is attentive and full of warmth. If you’re looking for a quick yet elegant bite with family or friends, this is a great option.
Nad Rating
B+

Shake Shack
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People love to hate on Shake Shack, especially in Lebanon (and truth be told, it wasn’t the greatest the one time I sampled it in Beirut). But in Dubai? Fantastic! The meat is juicy, the crinkle-cut fries are tremendously fun to binge on, and the frozen custards (we shared the red velvet, the strawberry banana trifle, and the chocolate fudge) are just plain lovable. It might not be for everyone, but Shake Shack certainly hits the spot for this junk food junkie.
Nad Rating
B+

 Salt
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A few years back, Salt’s innovative marketing campaign (#FindSalt) was so successful that it even took over my Insta-feed in Lebanon as the masses famously searched for the mysterious food truck.  The place now has a permanent location (two of them actually), and I visited its signature one on Kite beach. Interestingly enough, ordering one burger means you get two mini ones (to encourage sharing although I did no such thing). The burgers aren’t exactly life-changing but they’re first-rate. The lotus dessert however is out-of-this-world spectacular if you’re a fan of the yummy spread. The tables are actually located in the sand though so bring flip flops!
Nad Rating
A-

Five Guys
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I tried a lot of burgers throughout my trip, and I think Five Guys edged out the rest as my favorite. Order their signature burger (it’s messy and amazing) and share two types of fries: Five Guys style and Cajun Style. Sure the portions are huge, but you’re going to want to try both. Props for the eye-popping branding and the genuine sense of identity. Can we bring this place to Beirut please?
Nad Rating
A

The Sum Of Us
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If you’re Lebanese, Urbanista will immediately spring to mind when you enter this urban factory setting. Thankfully, The Sum of Us is much tastier than the above-mentioned Lebanese chain. The house-made granola with vanilla cinnamon is a crunchy delight, and the Eggs Benedict (the theme of my trip) is scrumptiously served with barbecued braised veal and confit pepper jam. Wow! Also, how COOL is that name?
Nad Rating
A-

Ceviche
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My first impression of Peruvian place Ceviche was one of pure dread: the place is located in what is practically a ghost-town (DIFC) and the decor screams dull. But the food? Pretty darn wonderful. We sampled a number of tasty ceviches, chief among them was white fish marinated in yellow chili spicy sauce, and a top-notch octopus starter with slices served on tapas style toast. Forget about appearances, and you just might enjoy yourself.
Nad Rating
B+

 El Sur
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Located in the majestic Westin hotel, El Sur is a contemporary Spanish Tapas restaurant with a number of exceptional treats. Order the Patatas Bravas, the Broken eggs with Iberian Ham (trust me it’s tastier than it sounds), and the dangerously addictive black rice. Just be sure to wear your finest clothes; it’s not exactly casual.
Nad Rating
B+

Aprons And Hammers
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Besides the fact that I love the name and setting (this branch is located on an actual boat), the food itself is a tad disappointing. I ordered the large crab bucket (severely overpriced) and honestly didn’t know what I was cracking with my little hammer. Would it be too much to ask for a fun tutorial so us newbies wouldn’t feel like idiots bashing everything in sight? Still, putting on the bib and picking up the “weapons of mass consumption” is an undeniably amusing experience. Also, I must admit that the crabs I was able to crack were pretty tasty with Apron’s signature Provencal sauce and a generous heaping of fries on the side. Next time, I think I’ll stick to a readily-prepared plate.
Nad Rating
B

Sapori Di BiCE
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Unremarkable is all I can say about this City Walk eatery. It’s got a lot of sunlight and design-them-yourselves cookies to keep the kids entertained, but the food is definitely nothing special. The burrata, the melanzane, the pepperoni pizza – nothing stood out. Sometimes, that’s even worse than sucking.
Nad Rating
D

Ben’s Cookies
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Okay so it’s not exactly a restaurant, but you can’t drop by Dubai without sampling these heavenly creations in Dubai Mall. I remember falling in love with these cookies in London years back, and wondering if they could ever live up to the hype I had built up in the depths of my belly. Suffice to say, I managed to devour THREE huge cookies on my own (pure gluttony!) and they were all drool-worthy. Order the macadamia and white chocolate, the triple chocolate chunk, and the milk chocolate chunk. Highly recommended for a sinful treat (or three).
Nad Rating
A

Cocoa Room
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My favorite discovery of the entire trip; I visited Cocoa Room for two consecutive days due to its sheer awesomeness. Unfortunately my second experience was muddled by truly horrendous service, but I’m willing to let it slide seeing as how my first visit was so impressive. Start off with the Truffle Eggs Benedict on croissant (yes you heard that right), and follow it up with the transcendent lotus pancakes and Nutella french toast. Every single dessert in this place is a thing of mouthwatering beauty, carefully decorated and impeccably presented. Check out all their masterful creations here and drool forever.
Nad Rating
A

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