5 progressive dinners in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Shanghai Chic

Lanterns galore at Shanghai Chic – Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate

I’ve blogged about dining differently before at a chef’s table, but we seem to have a teeny trend cropping up with dine-around dinners across the UAE. It’s a concept sometimes referred to in the West as progressive dinners or safari suppers – a twist on the potluck dinner – where friends all living in one neighbourhood take it in turns to host a different course.

Well here in the UAE, with top-end hotels each boasting a number of restaurants across a spread of diverse cuisines, it’s no surprise to see this concept flourish with each eatery serving one course. From my research we have five progressive dinners in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. You can listen to me explaining my experiences on Dubai Eye 103.8FM here or else read on:

1. At Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, our soirée is hosted by executive chef David Gache (sans chef whites) where we start with a Prosecco cocktail at Sorso bar. We then descend the majestic stairway (a killer for high heels!) to South-East Asian restaurant Li Jiang to don aprons and dabble in noodle pulling, but only after watching the Chinese chef de cuisine here. We choose one appetiser (my vote goes to the wasabi prawns) from a selection of three, and two dim sum from four. The Shanghai chicken Guo Tie remind me of addictively gorgeous gyozas, whilst the chicken and prawn siew mai are another winner – paired with an Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

A blanket of lights shrouds the al fresco restaurants at Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

Heading to back…erm…heart of house through gleaming kitchens (no doubt polished for the occasion) we arrive at The Forge steakhouse for our main course sitting in full view of the open-plan charcoal grill. A choice of USDA prime 220g grain-fed beef tenderloin or rib-eye, served with grilled cherry tomatoes and gratinated corn purée, plus a stack of thick-cut deep fried onion rings and steamed asparagus. My rib-eye is a little too marbled for my liking, I would opt for the tenderloin next time even though it has less flavour in my opinion. Choose from six sauces, in my case béarnaise. The steak comes paired with a French Bordeaux – Chateau du Grand Soussans, Margaux. The four course meal concludes in a candy bar straight out of the movies, Dolce café, with a tiered stand of mini desserts, gelatos and crepes plus a sweet glass (or two) of Sauternes – Chateaux de Rolland.

A rather odd acronym of the chef’s surname, the Gachetronomer’s Night runs every first Saturday of the month at 7pm for a minimum of two and maximum of ten people. Note, seating throughout all courses is on one table. Three courses plus apero for AED450 + taxes per person, and AED650 ++ with wine pairing. T; +971 2 8188282, E; restaurant.reservations@ritzcarlton.com

Moroc at Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate

Moroc at Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate

2. Movenpick Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel is also at it, with a staggering 20 tasting dishes, in essence bite-size albeit a rather large bite, across four restaurants in four hours. With so many dishes I am not gonna paint a picture of each one, otherwise this post will be as long as the Sheikh Z, but the image further below shows our menu which changes on occasion. What I love is the chef de cuisine of each restaurant explains the rationale behind each bite.

Beginning at 7pm in hugely atmospheric and al fresco Moroc lounge, which reminds me so much of a Moorish hacienda, with cocktails and cleverly presented canapés (think a pinenut tahini in a teeny mock toothpaste tube), our next destination is Sicilia where we dine on four imaginative Italian antipasti dishes. To give you a flavour, the tuna tartare with roasted peppers is served on a silky burrata sauce with slithers of compressed green apple – such a quirky yet complementary combo. We then travel to East Asia with dim sum and Peking duck at Shanghai Chic restaurant. Our main course at Chor Bazaar encapsulates the flavours of India with puris, an aloo patty, sizzling tandoor chicken and prawn curry. The beauty here is that all these restaurants, bar Moroc, are neighbouring, so a quick hop and skip between courses – but no chance of walking off your dinner. Finally, the journey comes to a sweet end back at Moroc for desserts inspired by each country we visit. I think this is one feast where the tasting dishes could be reduced slightly, but it is wonderfully paced. I literally roll into bed. Be warned, go with an empty stomach.

Dine Around MenuThe Dine Around The World experience is available any evening for a maximum of 12 people. AED329 per person, AED499 with unlimited wine. T; +971 4 4445613, E; dine.ibnbattuta@moevenpick.com.

There are a further three similar experiences that FooDiva has not tried and tasted, but here’s the deal:

3. Park Hyatt Dubai – Dine Around can be booked every evening excluding Saturday from 7pm to midnight. AED395 per person, AED590 with wine pairing. T; +971 4 3172221, E; restaurants.dubai@hyatt.com

4. Burj Al Arab – here it goes by the name of Culinary Flight taking in one bar and five restaurants. Available any day for lunch (AED980) or dinner (AED1,230) per person. T; +971 4 3017600, E; BAArestaurants@jumeirah.com

5. Jumeirah Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi – Around The World In One Dinner travels through Britain, Lebanon, Japan, France and South-East Asia. AED850 + taxes per person, AED1,250 ++ with wine pairing. And if you fancy crashing in one of the guest rooms, you’ll get a special rate of AED800 per night including brekkie. T; +971 2 8115666, E; JADrestaurants@jumeirah.com

Jumeirah Beach Hotel is testing the same concept tomorrow night. In fact a couple of years ago both Madinat Jumeirah and Emirates Towers trialled it, but they never rolled it out. Perhaps we’ll see more.

Have you come across any others? How do you feel about dining on a different course in a different restaurant?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

P.S – FooDiva tried and tasted the two experiences as part of the media launch events. Rest assured as always in line with FooDiva’s editorial policy, the opinions expressed here are mine alone.

P.P.S – Don’t forget to enter our West 14th competition here and win a host of lunches.

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4 Responses to “5 progressive dinners in Dubai and Abu Dhabi”

  1. For the love of caramel... April 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I’d made the trek recently all the way from Dubai to Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi to visit Dolce, the hotel’s patisserie helmed by chef Laurent Allereau (https://twitter.com/LAllereau), and when I quizzed him about highlights on the menu, one of the creations he mentioned was the crepe made from his grandmother’s recipe. My eyes lit up (something about recipes handed down through the generations that I find irresistible) and I asked for it with vanilla ice-cream and caramel sauce (the chef is from Brittany!!!). WOW!!! Now, I’ve made crepes at home, but I never let the batter rest (too impatient) which results in a slightly gummy texture. Chef Allereau’s crepes were possibly one of the best I’ve ever tasted anywhere and certainly the UAE’s best. The secret to creating the crispest and flakiest crepes, he informed me, was to up the sugar in order to increase the level of caramelization attained during cooking and thus the super-crisp end-result. And that caramel was super-tasty – nothing like the nasty stuff that is served at so many other venues (I recently had caramel sauce at a recently-opened luxury French resort on the Palm and it tasted of garlic (no kidding). I always prided myself on making Dubai’s best caramel (so boastful, some people) but my caramel crown now dangles precariously on the side of my (over-sized) head…For anyone wanting to try these but unwilling to make the journey all the way to Abu Dhabi just for a crepe, these are served at the dessert station during the hotel’s Friday brunch. I would skip the appetizers and steaks and just eat this until sick in the stomach. If you ever try it, let us know what you think…

    • FooDiva April 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      I did try the crepes and you’re right they were sublime with just the perfect crispy edge. I have to say I prefer mine with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon – am a purist at heart ;) In Dubai, the crepes suzette at Le Classique (Emirates Golf Club) at their Saturday brunch this weekend were amazing. I don’t even have a sweet tooth and I went up for seconds :)

  2. Melanie April 15, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I love this concept, especially as one who is not fond of the all in brunch. Much prefer a chef to gather all good things on a plate after consideration and design. It is a different dining experience and I’m sure there is a wider trend pending.

    • FooDiva April 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      Completely agree Mel. Perhaps we should call it a drunch which I believe is an evening all-you-can eat deal.

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