It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top. ∼ Henry Ward Beecher
For a good view in Dubai, you don’t have to go uphill, you can just select some spots for the best views! As the countdown to 2015 begins, my round up posts are all about the *best of the best* from 2014. While an earlier post had me gobbling up gold as I chalked down my list of *edible gold* dishes in Dubai, this post is all about gobbling up stunning views along with my meals at different restaurants that I have come across this year. While some of the best views are naturally the most touristy (for example the above picture – Burj Khalifa from Fortnum & Mason), let’s face it – we love it! While I foresee a challenge during the summers for most of these al fresco venues, by the the next summer, these outlets would have surely come up with their own solutions. A lot of these restaurants are new launches (marked them with an asterisk) and the menus are still evolving for some. But one thing is certain – no one can take away their claims to the best views. Bookmark a few of them for the best fireworks during NYE. Starting with the best night-scapes of Dubai:
Level 43 Sky Lounge in Four Points by Sheraton SZR
Level 43 Sky Lounge: Outdoor sky lounge – Tapas, cocktails, shooters and cigars, and a great venue for NYE fireworks: Practically hanging over the SZR on the 43rd floor, this Al fresco bar and lounge with a view is the latest entrant into the list of the city’s stunning sun downers. The view is, I repeat, absolutely incredible and has one of the best views of SZR amongst the other high rise hotels that are lining the SZR. The seating is laid back – big cane couches with cushions and good for an evening hangout with friends (I couldn’t visualise how a couple would be holding hands in a rendezvous, across couches!). Tapas styled finger food, cocktails, shooters and cigars (hmmm) define the menu. The choice for food is somewhat limited, as is always the case in most bars and lounges, but the food is delicious and enjoyable. We had ordered both the non-vegetarian combos – the Fish and Seafood platter came with fried lobster coated with corn flakes, lemon mayo and fresh mango, crispy calamari peanuts, Thai basil, seared Salmon with capers rosti potato. The Poultry and Meat platter included grilled lamb cutlets served with green lentil, carrot, celery, and onion stew; grilled beef skewer, shallot soya sauce served with pickle cucumber, shallot and carrot; sautéed chicken with light chili sauce, cucumber salad and served with coconut sticky rice. Can’t exactly remember whether we had ordered desserts or we were full gobbling up this incredible view. The cocktail menu is quite exhaustive and there are a few interesting iced tea options available as well. Interestingly, Simone Guerinoni, the gentle man in charge of the evening announced himself as the CEO – the Chief Experience Officer as his visiting card later revealed! Caution: The evenings can become quite chilly, so please carry an extra warm pullover. And definitely this is not a hangout venue for those suffering from vertigo!
This is one venue to book mark for showing off an incredible Dubai skyline to your visiting guests!
Zeta Restaurant & Lounge in The Address Downtown
*Zeta Restaurant & Lounge: Outdoor lounge – Asian Fusion, and probably the best venue to see the Burj Khalifa firework during NYE: Sitting right in front of the Burj Khalifa and watching the Dubai fountains dancing away every half an hour – Zeta is the recently opened *outdoor* lounge in The Address Downtown with an absolutely stunning view (above). We starting off with an array of starters – the Beef salad, the Sashimi platter and the Chicken Karaage (Karaage is the Japanese cooking technique in which various foods — most often chicken, but also other meat and fish — are deep fried in oil). The menu is reminiscent of Fazaris, the other restaurant in The Address Downtown. In fact, I am still dreaming about the Beef Tenderloin, the Black Cod in Miso sauce, the crunchy King Prawn in Kafir Lime and the Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Sorbet for desserts. If you are drinking alcohol, do try the super spicy Thai Bellini! And unlike other Dubai lounges, a lot of families with kids hung around, and we were told that they weren’t allowed only in a particular section that has been designated as the ‘lounge’ area. Zeta can get as romantic or as family friendly as you want our experience to be. The only challenge that I foresee now, are the summers – but I am told that they are working on a half-covered/half-open option. Caution: Even if you have reserved the best spot just by the side of the railing – the balcony seat in an opera house, the moment the Dubai Fountain starts dancing in the background, you will find flock of diners shoving and pushing you to the side as they scamper to take pictures of the Dubai Fountain. And this will happen every half an hour – so may be 3-4 times in your 2-hours dining date. Yes, I admit – I am one of those ridiculously rude diners!
This is one venue to book mark for showing off Burj Khalifa in all its splendour to your visiting guests or to reiterate to the Dubai resident – yes, Burj Khalifa is Dubai’s pride!
Shades in The Address Marina
*Shades in The Address Dubai Marina: Another Address property, and a completely different look. Overlooking the infinity pool and the stunning backdrop of the glistening Jumeirah Beach Residence, this outdoor lounge is a haven amidst the surrounding city landscape of highrises. I have come to Mazina, the restaurant downstairs many times but chanced upon Shades only recently, when Address Marina celebrated its 5th birthday at the venue. Live cooking, fire dance over a wooden stage suspended over the pool, a few bubblies and the effect of the nightscape afterwards… and I was already making plans to revisit for a sundowner. The weekends have live barbeque sessions with a selection of flame-grilled meats and seafood while you can enjoy Tapas and à la carte offerings daily, with their signature dish being a Chicken Niçoise salad and their regular barbeque platter. The staff is really friendly and when I ordered the two most colourful mocktails that would look nice for my photo shoot – a Summer Cooler and a Mint Lemonade – I was requested that I should revisit around 5pm when one can actually see the sun go down between the JBR buildings, casting a glow all around the Marina and the infinity pool. The daily theme nights seems to be catching up and the weekend sees the resident DJ Enigma8 taking control of the consoles until the wee hours of the morning.
This is one venue to book mark for showing off the stunning new Dubai to your visitors – here the city lights merge into the a star-studded night sky!
Bateaux Dubai in Dubai Creek
Bateaux Dubai: Cruise along the Dubai Creek, savour a 4 course gourmet menu, and a great venue for families with children to enjoy the NYE fireworks over the Dubai Creek:Dubai Creek is one of my favourite spots in the city. I have done innumerable dhow trips, sunset cruises, have walked along the Creek daily when the weather had been kind. Nothing beats the spectacular view of a lit up Dubai Creek at night. Recently, it had been that the traditional Dhows were to move away from my beloved Dubai Creek to the new wharfage opposite Hyatt Regency Hotel. Whether it is a Dhs 2 Abra ride or a dinner cruise in a traditional dhow, the cruise along the Dubai creek is really very special. And imagine an experiential dining as you glide along the Dubai creek, encased in a glass boat – plopping onto large Moét & Chandon signature floor cushions on the upper deck after a 5 course dinner – a cruise with Bateaux Dubai is for keeps! At the helm of the kitchen is the very talented Chef Alan van Heerden and with a team of nine Chefs on board Bateaux Dubai, he creates a 4-course menu, taking in inspiration from their varied mix of different backgrounds and cultures. Every dish ordered from the menu, is freshly made in the specially designed kitchen, with finest of ingredients (here’s my experience with Bateaux Dubai). The Smoked Duck with Wild Mushroom Salad is the winner for me – served with Balsamic ice cream and a crispy Basil Pesto Melba. Try the Seared Salmon with Braised Pok Choi for the Mains. This is definitely a special-treat dining venue – good food and excellent service (also there is a gorgeous lady playing the violin). the vessel is so heavy that one doesn’t feel any movement, unlike in many of my previous experiences of dhow Cruises, where I have tumbled with my plate filled with food. Caution: This is not your typical Dhow cruise with dinner, and if you are stepping into this gorgeous glass boat, be sure to dress up for the occasion if not borrow Cinderella’s glass slippers to wear!
This is one venue to book mark for gliding along the historical part of Dubai, in style and in taste (literally) – here the horizon merges into the waters and the city lights on the land becomes a blurry reflection on the water.
Tomo by Takahashi in the Raffles Terrace
Tomo by Takahashi: traditional Japanese with again a great venue for the NYE fireworks at a distance: A stunning skyline of Dubai from the Tatami Terrace with low table setups on a tatami floor complemented one of the best sushi and sashimi experiences I have had in my life so far. Chef Takahashi is one of the most experienced Japanese chefs in Dubai and a Master, he personally came out to explain what had been served in our platter – the Sashimi comprised of medium fatty tuna belly, salmon, greater amberjack fish; the Sushi included salmon belly, fatty tuna belly, prawn, unagi eel and crispy California roll. This was authentic Japanese at it’s very best and kept at how it must taste the best – very basic and very simple, unlike the other high end Japanese restaurants in town – Zuma or Nobu. (Read my experience of eating out in 5 stunningly different venues in one night)
This is one venue to book mark if you want to savour the stunning city scape from a distance – and enjoy some traditional Japanese with Sake!
Bā Restaurant & Lounge in Fairmont The Palm
*Bā Restaurant & Lounge: Both al fresco and indoor seating available – Chinese, perfect place to watch the fireworks of the surrounding Palm Islands during NYE: With panoramic views of the Marina skyline and the Arabian Gulf from the terrace as well as from inside the wall to wall glass windows, the decor is elegant and comfortable. The team of chefs have been hand-picked to represent 8 regions in China, and the menu focuses on traditional culinary technique under the leadership of Master Chef Lau Pak Wai. Bā Lounge embraces molecular mixology with a twist; from the gold leaf tops to carbonated effects, there are 8 unique signature cocktails to choose from. In fact, this is where, I had tasted the Sparkling Pomegranate Martini with *edible gold* dust in it (included in my earlier blogpost) whil attending a Cocktail Masterclass followed by dimsum making in the Bā kitchen under the guidance of Chef Lau himself. Caution: Do try to make it for the sundowner. With the Marina skyline in a distant, the view is incredible when the daylight is still there. Allow yourself to be stunned with the realisation of the actual size of the Palm Island… the Fairmont is situated in the trunk, and the yet the view isn’t hindered by the the crescent of the Palm Island!
And these are some of my choices for a daytime venues with views:
Creekside Cafe in Dubai Creek
Breakfast at Creekside Cafe: Created by the same team of the Archive Dubai in Safa Park, this cafe cum restaurant intends to develop as a community space with a focus on the arts and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. Its focus lies primarily on architecture, art, culture, design and heritage. Located in the heart of old Dubai and strategically located by the creekside, this is my top *daytime* venue in Dubai. The Emirati-inspired menu is designed by Chef Allan Briones, who loves deconstructing traditional dishes. For example, the Ghouzi, which is a big plate of rice, with a whole lamb on top of it. Here the has been made into a burrito, thereby giving it a very modern and cosmopolitan twist. Also, worth mentioning are the Red Velvet Leqaimats (leqaimats are crisp fried golden dough balls coated with date syrup and sesame seeds), which made us bond with a family sitting at the table next to us. Complete strangers – and suddenly we were sharing these pink fried doughs of love! Gaze at the Iranian vessels as long as they are permitted to traverse the Dubai creek… recent developments suggest that the traditional dhows in the Dubai Creek will have to shift their base to a new wharfage being built near Hyatt Regency. Enjoy the flight of the seagulls as long as you can while enjoying some brilliantly executed gourmet meal. The creek is an integral part of the heritage of Dubai and Sally Prosser aka My Custard Pie writes more on how to explore this beautiful creekside.
Omnia Blue in Gourmet Souk, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour
Omnia Blue: Burgers & Sliders – incredible view of the Fishing Harbour: This is the second restaurant of Chef Silvena Rowe and focuses on handmade burgers and sliders, made from locally sourced ingredients – Omani lobsters, free range chicken raised in the UAE. Most importantly, as Silvena emphasizes this is ‘fast food cooked in the slow way’. As per the name, the restaurant emits blue and is reminiscent of popular seafood restaurants in Pier 39 in San Fransisco – framed pictures in black and white, anchors and steering wheels – it is a sailor-blue paradise interspersed with floor tiles with Arabic motifs, again in blue. I ordered a chicken burger (free range organic chicken sourced locally) and french fries by the side. Potatoes are sourced from Oman, fried in Olive Oil and comes unsalted (Silvena very very consciously doesn’t put in her food). But what blows me away is the Mac and Cheese with Omani lobster. Caution: The view of the harbour is mind-boggling. If you are seating inside, do pray for the rains – I just experienced the rains chasing the clouds from the horizon and am still reeling from it – it’s beautiful. Again, if you are sitting on the terrace outside, pray that it doesn’t rain – it’s too beautiful to rush inside for shelter!
Pin this venue down if you are craving a view and a good meal (be assured that it will be healthy, organic and not run-of-the-mill), and don’t want to run up a five-star restaurant bill. This, for me, would be a romantic daytime venue.
Seaview Restaurant in Umm Suqeim 1 Fishing Harbour
Seaview Restaurant: Daily catch of the day and again an incredible view of the Fishing Harbour:: Another venue that has never disappointed anyone who has visited upon my recommendation. The view here gives me a lot of solace – I still recall a scene from one of my visits – the beauty of the harbour under the wraps of heavy clouds and pouring rain. Otherwise too. This restaurant had been my *brand new restaurant* recommendation until almost the first half of 2014! The menu is fresh and interesting and as I have mentioned earlier, has blends from different cuisines – Crab cakes served with Guacamole, Fish Masala Pappads, Haryali Hamour Tikka, Kesari Macchi or the Saffron flavored fish, Grilled Fillet with Gherkin Sauce, Polenta Crusted Mullet in Oyster Sauce, King Fish Darne in Banana Wraps and many more. The location is spectacular – again, much like the Fishermen’s Wharf in San Francisco. Mr Prashant, one of the partners of the restaurant, has a degree of Hotel Management and his contribution comes in the form of the subtle adaptation of the Mangalorean Prawn Ghee Roast into the Seaview Prawns (above), so that it may suit the international palate. This dish is my winner. Ghee Roast is one of the most popular delicacies of Mangalore (a coastal town in South Indian state of Karnataka) that has been popularized by the Bunt community of Kundapur. The finishing act in this preparation comes from the mild aroma of clarified butter – the Ghee and as I bit into the soft, juicy and spiced prawns, I could imagine myself coming back to the restaurant a couple of times only to taste this particular preparation. The Seafood Roti Canai is also highly recommended. Mr Majid, his local partner is a third generation Emirati. He is a part of the local fishing industry and owns a couple of fishing boats. Hence, one can expect that the quality of the fresh catch that goes into the restaurant kitchen or the taste of a prepared dish is unlikely to be compromised for some time to come. Fresh seasonal catch – local Hamour, Sheri, King Fish, Mullet, Mackerel, Shrimp and Crabs etc keeps the daily menu flexible and dependent on the fresh catch of the day. here’s my experience with Seaview Restaurant). Caution: This is a seafood restaurant – so naturally there isn’t much of an option in either vegetarian or non-seafood dishes!
Absolutely pin this venue down if you are are a seafood lover. At a reasonable bill, you will get sumptuous seafood along with complimentary view of the harbour. This, again, would be my choice for a daytime venue.
Serafina in Souk Al Bahar
*Serafina: Italian cuisine – live jazz every Wednesday from 8pm, another great venue to see the Burj Khalifa firework during NYE: Yes, sometimes it feels like the restaurants with views of the Burj Khalifa and the dancing fountain have it all (Thiptara, Rivington Grill, Baker & Spice and others). But life isn’t really that easy for these restaurants if the food doesn’t do justice to the view. An outdoor terrace overlooking the Dubai fountains, and a cute side terrace opening into Palace Downtown, this NYC import recently celebrated it’s first anniversary on its Dubai shores. The venue has been brushing names with celebrities – and that had been my reason in visiting the venue as late as this November. We walked into the terrace with the fountain bursting into a performance every half an hour and was amazed at the food that we tasted. Right in the middle of the truffle season, our order for a Pizza Di Serafina – Philly Cheese-steak, a Philadelphia steak with Italian cheeses and truffle sauce, was perfect. But the stunner was my Pasta of the day – the Spaghetti All Aragosta – spaghetti in a fresh cherry tomato base, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. And of course a jumbo Lobster in its shell as the divine crowning glory! True to the Italian spirit, Serafina has mastered the art of making Desserts or Nostri Dolci and the Tiramisu was a testimony to that. Caution: Like most restaurants located in Souk Al Bahar and which have the fortune to pay for its terrace, the charm here lies in experiencing the dancing fountains along with great Italian food. Although an American import, Serafina doesn’t serve Italian food the Olive Garden style which is a bit too Americanised (and of course popular!). Here, the authenticity is accentuated with fine presentation and fresh ingredients. When salads can tempt a diner back, that speaks a lot about the venue (yes, I am talking about the Spinaci e Caprino or the Baby Spinach Salad with candied walnuts, Goats Cheese and pine nuts).
Absolutely pin this venue down if you are want great Italian food along with complimentary view of the dancing fountains and Burj Khalifa. The food is too good looking to be overshadowed in the candle lit ambiance at night!
The Beach Dubai
The Beach Dubai: Amazing seaview, a line up of the best restaurants and of course one of the best venues to witness the Palm Islands fireworks: With a lot of restaurants to choose from, this is the latest development to offer diners a view with practically every meal! There is a lot to choose from and lately the Market by the Beach on Saturdays are catching up. Kiosks selling fresh organic produce, mouthwatering treats, handcrafted goodies and live entertainment forms the part of the repertoire. I still haven’t been able to cover all the restaurants here – but amongst the stand alone concepts (not part of any franchise), my absolute favourite is Eat Greek. The sun rays are reflected off the blue sea waters over the terrace and dreamy, lit-up white nests hang from the ceiling and casts magical shadows on the distressed wooden floors. Try the Kadaifi Jumbo Prawns – a beauty, a must have… Jumbo Prawns wrapped in Kadaifi filo (very popularly used in Arabic sweets like Kunafa), fried and served with a dreamy pink strawberry dressing and chopped pieces of fruits, deliciously called the fruity ratatouille. Another place that I like to bring my guests over is – the House of Curry. Although I am not keen to try our Indian food when I go out for a meal, the novelty in the latter lies, amongst the food is also the rustic ‘Haveli’ interiors with a framed picture of Monalisa draped in an Indian Saree! Caution: Although the Beach Dubai has stolen some glory from the restaurants located in The Walk, you will be spoilt for choice in this Californian style seaside boulevard.
Pin this venue down from breakfast, lunch through dinner – have a dip in the sea and dunk into your food – your choice of cuisine!
Al Badia Golf Club
*Picnic Brunch in Al Badia Golf Club; relaxed weekend brunches with family: This is one of my recent experiences that I would like to do an elaborate photo post on… a real picnic with picnic baskets, picnic mats and umbrellas thrown in. Overlooking the Al Badia Golf course, serenity prevails while the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back – families lying on the ground, children running around, a messed up low lying tables with empty glasses and an overturned picnic baskets – there is a sense of abandon in the elegant weekend affair that describes this ‘glamping’. The old fashioned wicker basket is brimming with traditional goodies – freshly baked baguettes, smoked salmon, handmade compotes, sausage rolls etc and there is a real smokehouse to flame up your grills.
Pin this venue down for a weekend brunch – a must do if you want an amazingly relaxed afternoon amidst friends and family, and while the weather lasts!
New Year Eve Events at the above venues
Level 43 Sky Lounge: Live DJ – International Buffet – Free Flow Selected Premium Beverages – A Spectacular View of The Palm, The World Islands, Dubai Festival City, Burj Al Arab, and Burj Khalifa Fireworks. Dhs 1500/person. Advanced booking required. For Reservations, Call 04 316 9888 or email email@example.com
Zeta NYE Party : With spectacular views over Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, this is one of the best venues for the NYE fireworks. Dhs 3,000/person/table inclusive of 4 courses, unlimited house beverages and bubbly; Dhs 2,000 per person per table minimum beverage spend, Barstools AED 1,800 per person per table minimum beverage spend. For reservations, please call + 971 4 4368799 or email EHernandez@theaddress.com
Shades: THE GOOD RESOLUTION AT SHADES offers a unique twist on Asian street food and European tapas, Shades presents an authentic experience that will carry you through to the New Year. With a live DJ building you up to the midnight countdown and complimentary access to Blends, make the most of your celebrations with friends and loved ones. Dhs 1,100/person, inclusive of free-flowing house beverages and entrance to Blends. Please call +971 4 423 8884 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bateaux Dubai: NEW YEAR’S EVE CRUISE down the Creek with an incredible view of the fireworks over Dubai’s skyline. Dhs 1,300/person for a welcome drink, live entertainment, a six-course a Ia carte celebration dinner, unlimited house beverages and a glass of bubbly. Kids from 5 to 11 years are welcome onboard at AED 495* including unlimited soft drinks. Time: 8.30pm to 1am; boarding at 7.45pm. For reservations, please call +971 4 814 5553 or book online reservations.bateauxdubai.com.
Bā Restaurant & Lounge: Black & White Party and a menu featuring a delicate Dim Sums combination of Steamed Prawn Dumplings topped with Caviar, Steamed Scallop Dumpling, White Mushroom Spring Roll with Truffle Oil and Blue Cheese as well as Steamed Lobster with Garlic, Glass Noodle and Spring Onion as a main course. For a restaurant Seating – Dhs 1,588/person (indoor seating), AED 1,888/person (outdoor seating); Lounge Seating – Dhs 688/person (including two signature cocktails and canapes from 9pm to 12am); After party package in Bā Lounge – Dhs 388/person (including house beverages from midnight to 3am). Please call +97144573457 or email at email@example.com.
Serafina: Enjoy a 9 course meal to the sounds of an international live band along with a spectacular view of the Burj Khalifa fireworks. Packages start from Dhs 1,495/person with soft drinks and mocktails; Dhs 1,695/person with house beverages and 1 glass of champagne served on arrival; Dhs 1,995/person with house beverages and 1 Veuve Clicquot bottle for every 2 people. For reservations, please call +9714 363 8447 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomo by Takahashi: Meticulously prepared by Chef Takahashi together with his team of skilled chefs, the price for the Set Menu is worth Dhs 880/person and includes a welcome drink, a non alcoholic choice is also available. The price for children below 12 years old is Dhs 440/child. The terraces will be open on midnight for everyone to enjoy the fireworks display and to see the city’s dramatic skyline and the sparkling Burj Khalifa Tower.
Advance bookings recommended for all.
How are you ushering in the New Year? Is there any restaurant that you would like to add to this list? As much as I would love to join in the celebrations in one of the above venues that I have mentioned, but none of these work for our family – we end up landing in one of our friends’ places where we can let the Z-Sisters go wild… and follow it up with a drive in to the desert the following day (here’s our trip to Khor Kalba following on the Bikers’ trail). Whatever you choose to do to celebrate, here’s hoping that the New Year brings in lots of happiness in all your lives. And may the world be a safer place. Hopefully this isn’t my last post of 2014… I haven’t eaten and travelled around too much this year to sign the year off, just yet!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: All pictures have been taken by me unless mentioned otherwise (picture of Bateaux Dubai boat has been provided by venue). Please note that this post is not a sponsored post and the subject, story, opinions and views stated here are my own and are independent and I have paid my bills for most of the venues excepting the ones marked in asteriks. While you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals, please do not use any material from these posts. You can catch my daily food and travel journey on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.