Marco Pierre White Grill
Conrad Hotel Dubai
Celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White has lent his name to several restaurants in Dubai – some that have lasted, some that haven’t – but this sophisticated piano bar and lounge looks set to go the distance. Which is a good omen for anyone looking to celebrate the big V-day here – perfect for coupled-up carnivores, the large, open kitchen proves there’s nothing to hide and the friendly, attentive servers are knowledgeable without being intimidating (I can’t be the only one who’s ever felt embarrassed to admit I’m not entirely au fait with the difference between a grass- and grain-fed rib-eye).
It’s a big, airy space, but on our visit it was thrumming with atmosphere – in one corner a live pianist and female singer filled the air with jazzy French tunes, while shimmering ceiling installations and
When the puddings came they turned out to be the highlight of an already amazing meal
an artistic spangling of light bulbs created warmth while retaining an urban edge – very New York chic.
Which is apt, because although this restaurant bills itself as serving classic English fare, it’s actually a melange of different influences – from the Chicago-trained head chef Jenny Lorenzo (who’s also worked with Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay), to the menu’s continentalstyle sauces. Of course there’s British grub here too, in the form of the outlet’s signature fish and chips, but we decided to opt for more European fare with our starters of crab – served chilled alongside a tangy, celery root remoulade and deep-fried soft-shell crab – and a rapture-inducing beef carpaccio with foie gras and a truffle-and-pink-peppercorn dressing.
The Italian accent continued with a risotto of asparagus and lemon – the vegetable was fresh as a dewy English meadow, while the rice had just the right amount of bite – before we turned our attention to the ‘grill’ part of the restaurant’s name for our mains. I chose a fillet of salmon, while my husband had a grass-fed rib-eye served medium rare (for anyone still wondering, apparently the grass feeding makes for an earthier flavour). To go alongside we ordered the truffle mash (silky and not to be missed if you’re a truffle fan), as well as thrice-cooked chips (salty and crisp on the outside, soft and fondant-like in the middle). Taking a break before dessert, it was easy to while away time in the comfortable cream-leather sofas (ask for a booth) while watching the bustling activity of the open kitchen. But there was no chance of getting too distracted because when the puddings came they turned out to be the highlight of an already amazing meal. My husband declared the pear crumble and ginger ice cream to be the best he’s had in Dubai (for crumble connoisseurs that means something), while I fell head over heels for the deconstructed almond and rhubarb pavlova – crunchy meringue sheets mingled with rhubarb sorbet and white chocolate ganache. The latter dish will be starring on the restaurant’s Valentine’s menu, so if you’re looking for somewhere refined but relaxed with top-notch, non-pretentious food for this day of romance, you’re sure to win top brownie points by booking a date night here.