Does Center Cut it for FooDiva?
Dubai; “What would you request as your last meal?” Morbid perhaps, but FooDiva was posed this question recently. Without a doubt, a juicy, tender steak, cooked rare. So with another new steakhouse on our shores, FooDiva ventured to the Ritz-Carlton DIFC’s, Center Cut. Yes Anglophiles, I too prefer the original and correct English spelling of Centre (re not er), but Ritz-Carlton is American so I guess we’ll let them off for now.
FooDiva and friend were surprised to find the restaurant empty, bar one table for a Thursday 8.30pm reservation, so despite an indoor booking, we settled for a table al fresco, in a semi-courtyard surrounded by all that gleaming financial district steel.
A few days later, I can still vividly recollect the warm onion loaf served to us whilst we perused our menus – with accompanying salts; black olive and Meditteranean herb. Simply buttered and sprinkled with Med herb salt, my fave. No doubt helped by our flutes of beautifully chilled Laurent Perrier.
For the first time on any menu, I loved each of the ten starters – tough call, but I settled for red meat throughout with the rare roast beef salad. And blue it truly arrived; slithers of tender beef (US) interspersed with baby spinach leaves, dijon mustard, caramelised onions and pecorino cheese. The beautiful presentation was ruined in minutes as I scooped it all up in a few bitefuls – simply delicious. My friend’s baby cos salad with garlic crostini, parmesan reggiano, white anchovies and coddled egg dressing was a nouvelle cuisine take on a traditional caesar salad – classic but excellent choice.
A refreshing passion fruit sorbet helped bridge the gap to our mains…and yes steaks of course. I settled for Australian – a 350gm black angus rib eye, whilst my friend’s USDA 260gm prime sirloin was the better choice. So much more flavoursome, whilst my rib eye was cooked more medium-rare than rare. Now rib eye is the fattier of all cuts, and hence should be tastier; but this particular cut was oozing with too much fat, and not much taste. Shame, but I guess America you win this time round, despite the spelling. My choice of accompanying butter sauce, was identical to FooDiva’s home-made Cafe de Paris – magnifique.
Side dishes are all optional extras; I do think that at least one choice should be included with your main, even if the price has to rise. Having said that, Center Cut offers the most inventive side order menu choices I have seen in this town; baked potato with horseradish and crème fraiche, shoestring potato with truffled parmesan cheese, French beans with air dried bresaola and chilli, and asparagus with Persian feta, plus a myriad of other options. The French beans were perfectly al dente, as was the sprightly green asparagus, but somehow so was the baked potato – far too undercooked. Now as much as I love Persian white cheese, it can only be labeled feta, if it originates from a sheep and/ or goat in certain parts of Greece. It’s the law, as you can read by clicking here. Anyhow that’s a story for another post.
With some vino still left (a very nice Argentinian Mendoza sold by the glass), we shared a trio of cheese; three teeny slices of cheddar, brie and roquefort turned up, with even smaller pieces of crackers. Quite a lame attempt really. But made up by the excellent jasmine leaf tea that followed – American again.
Now service was excellent throughout, attentive and knowledgeable, with the Australian chef even popping out to chit chat round the tables. And there were a few more, tables that is, by the end of the evening. The ambience whispers formality though, so it’s more a restaurant for a business lunch or dinner – which after all, is the market the hotel is catering to.
Dinner for two including two glasses of French bubbles, four glasses of red, two pots of tea and service/ taxes; AED 1,322. For a deluxe hotel experience, that’s a good value for money steakhouse.
FooDiva was delighted to see a vast improvement on her earlier Ritz-Carlton experience (click here for the Can Can review) at all levels, in particular service. Steakhouse competition is rife in this town, but if you order the right cut of meat from the right nation – despite the Australian chef, America you win – and steer away from the cheese for now, you’ve sealed a good deal. Oh and how could I forget, there’s plenty of seafood options, as well as lamb, veal and chicken. Here’s to a four out of five FooDiva knife rating.
Center Cut at Ritz-Carlton DIFC is open daily for lunch and dinner. T: +971 4 3722222.