Dusty’s: what’s in a name?

Dusty's DIFC - Dubai restaurantsHow important to you is the name of a restaurant when deciding where to dine out? For me, very. Branding is the first impression that positions a restaurant in our minds, and it’s that perception that lingers. As far as Dubai restaurants go with odd names that don’t marry well with the concept, Novikov is one example, Lemonade is another, but more recently Dusty’s at DIFC. Now I first heard of this restaurant opening in June and immediately put it to the bottom of FooDiva’s review list. The name, unbeknown to me, was a person’s forename, but it simply didn’t paint an appealing picture, and with a flurry of other restaurant openings, there was enough to keep us busy. Anyhow, four months later despite the off-putting name, I put impartiality first and make a reservation.

Dusty’s is a home-grown restaurant and wine bar in DIFC (in the ‘poorer’ Al Fattan Currency Tower) owned by a Dubai resident and ‘world traveller’ according to online references, Dusty Tourani. Yes he’s named the restaurant after himself, but unless you know him (he’s not a celebrity), one does not immediately associate the branding with a person’s name. However, my negative perceptions go out of the window as soon as I walk in. The semi-industrial, long and narrow interior is warm and inviting with funky murals by a Palestinian artist, whilst a smattering of high tables give it a casual, rustic feel. But it’s dead on a Thursday night at 7.30pm (admittedly a public holiday), and remains so for an hour when a handful of other diners arrive. We pretty much have the pick of a table.

Dusty's DIFC - Dubai restaurantsThe menu is compact and international with ‘global hits’ as Dusty’s likes to call it. A signature starter of beef tataki arrives as lightly seared slivers of tenderloin, with rich, juicy beef accentuated by a mirin glaze and a chilli salsa. The grilled prawns are served sizzling on a hot skillet – delicious – with the garlic, butter sauce so moreish I request a spoon to polish it off. But they are teeny; I am half-expecting king prawns. Call me diva-spoilt. Our third starter, another Dusty’s special, lobster tacos (we are a hungry duo) disappoints – the tacos are stale and straight out of a packet. A real shame as the diced lobster, avocado and mango filling is succulent and full of flavour. We mention this to the manager when she requests feedback and she fully acknowledges our point explaining that the chef is working on his own recipe. Having said that, in the meantime they should remove them from the menu, or at least don’t call it signature!

Onto main courses, a signature ‘red’ chicken is served as a half-chargrilled baby chicken doused in a delectable Indian butter chicken sauce with a drizzle of yoghurt – a welcoming surprise. Grilled lamb chops whilst tasty, veer towards medium to well done even though my dining partner requests medium. Side orders of sautéed spinach and a green salad with a delightful smokey dressing has me asking for the recipe (I am told it’s a chef secret). We conclude our meal with a crème brûlée trio – whilst the mango, coconut and coffee flavours shine through, the brûlée is too dense with none of the expected creaminess and softness.

The extensive wine list is grouped according to body and flavour, whilst it also offers several options by the glass. Sadly, we have to ask for a Mouton Cadet Reserve Bordeaux to be served in red wine glasses. The issue being, white wine glasses form part of the table setting, but the service staff should be trained to replace the glasses, wine choice dependent. And it’s little glitches like these coupled with bouts of shyness that let the service down – otherwise the menu knowledge is comprehensive.

Now Dusty’s does not come cheap given the concept is casual and relaxed with a wine bar feel. That dreadful 10% DIFC tax does not help, so expect to pay on average AED325 per person for three courses. The concept is well thought through – a gastro wine bar that serves reasonably good food giving you more than the typical cheese and charcuterie platters – but his prices do need to drop to make Dusty’s a regular, affordable haunt. That way I am sure it will also become busier. Now that I’ve visited and overall enjoyed the experience, I would return, despite the name 😉 Here’s to a 3.5 out of 5 FooDiva knife rating.

How important is a restaurant’s name to you?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

FooDiva Rating: Knife Rating: 3.5
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12 Responses to “Dusty’s: what’s in a name?”

  1. Johann Z October 26, 2015 at 12:51 am

    It is not the name that counts – it’s the quality of food and service that is all important – Der Teufelhof in Basel is a unique guesthouse and cultural centre where restaurants, hotels, theatres and art come together to give outstanding results – but the name means ‘the Devil’s Court’ – Chef Michael Bader with his assistant Ernst Zahnd enjoy creating a range of culinary delights. The focus here is on creativity using only the finest fresh produce. it has 16 GaultMillau points.

    • FooDiva October 28, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      I hear you Johann. I guess my point is that one may not give a restaurant a chance to prove themselves if the name is off putting. Case in point I did not prioritise Dusty’s and did not dine there initially because its name left a sour taste. So I question how much business it is losing because of its name…

  2. Sally - My Custard Pie October 28, 2015 at 10:43 am

    You’ve made it all sound very appealing – and I would not have set foot in here due to the name. It has overtones of Bullseye and Dusty bin!

    • FooDiva October 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      LOL Sally. I think they would benefit from a rebrand.

  3. Kellie October 29, 2015 at 10:24 am

    You know, whilst I agree that a name is the first impression of ‘the brand’ – in this case , I would have assumed a concept.
    In Malta, the most popular ‘Fenkata’ restaurant translates as ‘Dirty Charlies’
    In ‘Dustys’ case I would have expected a casual , American diner style feel, based on the name alone.
    Novikov just baffles me!

    • FooDiva November 2, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Interesting Kellie…what’s obvious is that a name does paint a picture, albeit a different one for each person!

  4. GeordieArmani October 29, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    It worked for Ruth’s Chris which is also weird!! the name can put people off for sure.

    • FooDiva November 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Good point GA…can’t stand that name and the apostrophe! But the steakhouse here is very good – a far cry from the US locations.

  5. Yiahni October 30, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Well, I assumed, incorrectly of course, that this was an homage to the legendary British swinging sixties soul singer, Dusty Springfield.

    You are quite right of course; the name does conjure images and must be an influence for most people. There again, it is such a subjective thing isn’t it. Wasn’t Romanoff’s a Beverley Hills restaurant popular with the Hollywood stars of the 40’ies and 50’ies? If Romanoff why not Novikov?

    • FooDiva November 2, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      Love that everyone has a different perception of what the Dusty’s name could entail Yiahni. I think you are right about Romanoff’s but it precedes my time 😉 Fashionable then perhaps but let’s hope no longer!

  6. JayEim November 1, 2015 at 12:43 am

    Now that I have survived HalloWayne in Dubai and lived to tell the tale. I can turn my attention to more mundane issues.

    Phewwww. Security personnel had to hold my hand while walking me to the car. All these chains, blood, axes and perfumes. It must be the nicest smelling Zombies ever.
    I know, my new perfume will be called: Zomby

    What’s in a name?
    The name is totally and utterly irrelevant. It is NOT how descriptive or how funky or how original.
    It is how memorable with the least expensive funding exercise.

    As for Noviblink. Or Noviwhatsit. Or NoviBeauTocs, or even Novigiveusyourmoney.
    I like them all provided it is stuffed with Kale and Quinoa and Chia seeds and MacCheese and French toast and Truffle oil and Ombre and silly finger nails.


    Anyway, you cannot taste the food after being plastered with booze.

    Alternatively, I am going to stuff my face with a toasted white bread SandWich with two layers of smooth peanut butter with a slice of aged cheddar smothered with Frenchies mustard and sliced cucumber pickles……there!

    I have decided to start my own restaurant. The name will be:

    The Chef does not eat here!

    Or my prefered name for a fast food joint:


    Voting lines are now open…..

    • FooDiva November 2, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      LOL Jay. Restaurantsshouldhireyouforbranding.

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