Feb 26, 2014

Dubai Food Festival Gourmet Trail Guide:Ultimate Dining Experiences

As a Dubai Food Festival Gourmet Trail Guide, I was asked to select four of my favorite restaurants in five different categories.  This actually proved to be a difficult task, as I have had so many wonderful dining experiences in Dubai.  Here are the top four under Ultimate Dining Experiences 

Casa Mia- (Le Meridien-Garhoud)
  • Occasion to Visit: Craving some good Italian food/Date night
  • Location and Price: Le Meridien, Garhoud/Meal for two AED 400
  • Insiders Tips: Carb heavy meal, best to pace yourself, and share lots of dishes.
  • Menu Top Tip: The Burrata, Seafood Soup, Mushroom Rissotto, and Lamb all come highly recommended. (During truffle season, opt for special menu items)
 The classic Italian experience at Casa Mia can’t be beat. The comforts of a home-made style pasta or wood fired pizza can bring a smile to anyone’s face and this restaurant achieves that culinary bliss with all their authentic menu items.  Located in the heart of Meridien Village, the atmosphere here is lively and cheerful. 
Surrounded by several other good quality eateries, this little Italian gem has been around for twenty years. With a long history of delivering consistently good food and excellent customer service, no wonder this restaurant has made its mark in the Dubai restaurant scene from the beginning.
 The outdoor patio at Casa Mia is equally as inviting as the rustic interior, if you’re looking for privacy then request a quiet table inside. The ambiance here is unlike the “new” Dubai style restaurants, which is refreshingly comforting. This also gives the entire dining experience more value for your money, because you’re not paying for the glitz and glam.
The menu lists an extensive variety of items from snails and Carpaccio for starters to Gnocchi and Ravioli for pastas, plus Salmon and Veal for the mains, they have left no foodie stone unturned.  The Burrata with black truffle dressing, basil, and tomatoes came highly recommended as a starter.  Having a preference for this creamy cheese delicacy, it was the right choice to make.  A generous portion serving up to three people was plated beautifully and as fresh as could be.  The Mushroom Rissotto was  made al dente and the Lamb was well seasoned and cooked to a beautiful medium temperature, looking most appetizing to the eyes.

Center Cut: (Ritz Carlton-DIFC)
Occasion to Visit: When you’re craving a good steack
Location and Price: Ritz Carlton DIFC/Meal for two AED 1,005
Insiders Tips: If the weather allows you, request a table on the patio
Menu Top Tip: The steak is the star of the show, go for the Wagyu Ribeye (medium rare), my favorite cut. Short Ribs are the house specialty. And if you happen to go during truffle season, hold out for their special menu.
Center Cut is located on level P of the Ritz Carlton in DIFC. Tucked away in the heart of Dubai’s financial district, it makes sense there is a steak house that delivers excellent food and service to the hardworking folks in the area. With warm neutral tones and soft lighting the ambiance is welcoming to all patrons. The melodic live piano plays throughout the evening providing the perfect background music for this elegant affair. 
The winter season is ideal for outdoor seating, so if you happen to pay a visit to this restaurant during the pleasant weather, request a table on the patio.  Surrounded by shrubs and perfectly pruned trees, with views of tall buildings and DIFC, the patio is a comfortable place to enjoy the rich steak meal. The seasoned staff anticipates your needs and pace the evening to optimize on the diners experience, you will never feel rushed or pressured to move your meal along.  
The menu, albeit small at first glance, provided enough variety for carnivores and non meat eaters alike.  The extensive cuts of steak appeal to meat lovers of all varieties along with a corn fed roast chicken and ample seafood selection. A good steak house will balance the “turf” with “surf” options, and with fresh shucked oyster, Dungeness crab cakes, lobster, and several fish items, it’s clear they did justice to their menu.
The experience at Center Cut is worth going back for, whether it’s a special occasion, a business meeting, or you’re just craving a good steak, rest assured your money is well spent at this quality establishment.         

Studio Du Chefs- (Sofitel-The Palm)
“Studio Du Chefs is a modern “State of the Art” French style Brasserie with an open kitchen concept and TV monitors strategically placed around the restaurant for a fully entertaining evening”
Occasion to Visit: Special Occasions/Girls Wine and Cheese Nights
Location and Price: Sofitel-The Palm/Dinner for Two AED 740
Insiders Tips: save room for the cheese cart and request a table with a view of the open kitchen
Menu Top Tip: The Seabass Ceviche, Tuna Rossini, and Beef Medallions “Bourguignon” are must haves

 Studio Du Chefs is a gorgeous venue with plenty to offer aesthetically as well as gastronomically.  The well trained staff are there to accommodate your every need at this 5 star location set in a French Polynesian themed hotel.  Upon entering the hotel, you are immediately whisked out of Dubai into a remote resort destination for the evening.  Walking through the halls adorned by plenty of greenery compliments of the vertical garden design, you immediately feel at home at this classy one of a kind destination.  The mood shifts slightly into a more modern scene inside the sleek Studio Du Chefs restaurant. 

The restaurant is set-up elegantly with view overlooking the resort on one side as well as an open kitchen constructed in the center towards the back adorned with the “Ferrari” of all kitchen equipment. The knowledgeable staff are quick to give menu recommendations and proud to ensure quality of food and service from the start. The entire menu is worth perusing to get an idea of the creativity and modern interpretation of some classic French style dishes.  
The trained chef has many years of experience under his belt and delivers on that with every dish that comes to the table.  The crisp and bright flavors of the sea bass ceviche along with the decadent blend of seared tuna and foie gras in the Rossini to the hearty su vide style preparation of the beef medallions demonstrates this technique beautifully.  The upscale setting lends itself for a special night out, so be prepared to pay for the ambiance and culinary specialties accordingly.  

ICHO ( Radisson Roya-SZRl)
Occasion to Visit: A romantic evening with your loved one/Birthday Celebration
Location and Price: Radisson Royal-SZR/Cost for two people AED 550
Insiders Tips: Request a seat by the window overlooking SZR
Menu Top Tip: The menu is extensive focus more on the prepared items rather than rolls to maximize on the dining experience such as the Foie Gras with Zzuma Sauce/Wasabi Prawns/Wagyu w/ Miso Leek sauce
This elegant modern Japanese concept located on the 49th through 51st floors, sitting high on top of the Radisson Royal hotel is anything but simple.  The talented Korean chef Song works magic on his menu items he meticulously executes with precision and ease at this sprawling venue.  Featuring both Tempanyaki style eating and a classic al la carte menu featuring a variety of sushi, sashimi, maki, and more, one is spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out at this distinctive restaurant. 
Competing for a spot amongst the many other restaurants of the same style in the city, ICHO has gone to great lengths to prove itself as a new comer to the market.  With items such as Foie Gras with black truffle, leek, asparagus, orange and a zzume dressing arriving under a glass encased smoke blanket this dish not only proved to be inventive, but tasty beyond words.  
Another key menu item which was pleasantly surprising were the wasabi prawns, a dish found in Asian restaurants from Dubai to the world over.  Reluctant to order the “trendy” menu items, after my first bite of this delectable treat I was convinced Chef Song’s style was playing on popular menu items, with his own twist. The crispy tempura battered prawns presented with the most delicate chiffonade of nori and a sprinkling of pink peppercorns all came together with the velvety texture of the sweet wasabi sauce.

The final dish that sent my taste buds on a wild frenzy was the Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with a garlic and leek miso sauce.  At this point in the meal, the chef and team have delivered on all points of service, so my expectations were elevated for this dish in particular.  Japanese cuisine has a wonderful way if taking a few simple ingredients and transforming it into an entire sensory experience.  That is exactly what you will get with this dish and more, no need for dessert since this was the icing on the proverbial cake.

For more information on the Dubai Food Festival, click on the icon below:



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