Is it a warm welcome back to Dubai for Gordon Ramsay?
Gordon Ramsay needs no introduction, yet Atlantis is so out and proud with its new Dubai restaurant opening, that our journey up Palm Jumeirah to Bread Street Kitchen & Bar was littered with road-side reminders of the great man. The sliding entrance doors to the Avenues entrance have entirely been given over to him, large scale, arms folded, there was no doubt, we were about to enter Gordon country. On arrival at the restaurant itself, we were warmly greeted, by well, everyone. This is a good thing. Yet, perhaps it is my Englishness, but I err more on the side of low key intervention.
The bright and light brasserie-style restaurant, is billed as ‘informal, all-day modern European dining’ and seats 400 plus. Its decor echoes its London namesake but is not a facsimile. High-vaulted ceilings, with inset and pendant lighting are complemented by contrasting desk lamps along dividers between the long stretches of upholstered banquettes. Whilst Atlantis’ telephone reservations system has the restaurant listed under fine dining options, the overarching vibe is relaxed and casual. Despite the number of tables, they are well spaced and although Bread Street Kitchen was nowhere near to capacity on our visit, there was a lively buzz to the place which had drawn both professionals as well as tourists for a lunch mid-week. An open view of the kitchen with a theatrical flaming pizza oven behind large-scale industrial style windows is a feature and a focal point of the restaurant. There is also an outdoor terrace with a view of a small garden although we were discouraged from sitting there during our visit as a shamal was brewing.
A bar and an extensive cocktail menu caters for those with an inclination towards a more liquid lunch, and features a selection of drinks from ‘sister restaurants around the world’. The menu is extensive focusing on traditional British dishes and broader European fare. Gordon Ramsay famously used to preach ‘vegetarians are not welcome’ in his restaurants around the world, his old outpost Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek included, but has since changed his tune. That may be so, but my dining companion’s preference for vegan cuisine (she sometimes settles for vegetarian) was perhaps a step too far for Bread Street Kitchen.
She settled on stone baked pizzette with ricotta, taleggio, braised radicchio and a hazelnut salsa verde, and a main-sized portion of the quinoa salad with pomegranate, cranberries, kalamata olives, spring onions and roasted hazelnuts – as her only options. The pizzette was pleasant and would perhaps work well as a sharing appetiser rather than as a single portion. My companion did not finish hers. The quinoa salad was well presented and also included chopped herbs; the mint adding flavour, but it doesn’t matter how much of a superfood fan you might be, there’s an upper limit to the amount of quinoa one could reasonably expect to consume at one sitting – it just doesn’t feel much of a treat. However, had we enquired, we would have discovered a cheese plate on the dessert menu which would have perhaps provided a more satisfying option for those with a vegetarian persuasion.
I fared much better with my starter of baked scallops, sweetcorn puree and crispy chicken skin which was tasty; the saltiness and crispiness of the chicken contrasting nicely with the sweetness of the scallops. My preference would be for a little less time in the oven, as I like my scallops super soft and tender. We enquired as to the provenance of the seafood starter and a surprised waiter narrowed it down to ‘the Atlantic’ – it would have been pedantic of us to press him further – but he should have been briefed. My main of braised beef and star anise carrot puree with creamed wild mushrooms was one I would go back for; it oozed flavour, and was cooked to soft perfection. I ordered an accompaniment of broccolini with chilli and ginger, but it wasn’t really required as the dish is substantial and the mushrooms and carrot puree already work well as accompaniments.
For dessert, I opted for classic old-school, but with a twist – rose and raspberries Eton Mess. It didn’t disappoint, but then it would be very hard to mess up an Eton mess. My companion chose a rich banana sticky toffee pudding with muscovado caramel and clotted cream. The cream made for a pleasant change to ice-cream, providing contrast to the sweetness of the sponge.
Rather sadly, I felt the Willy Wonka style sweet and ice-cream bar was kid’s territory and we did not indulge. However, I am assured by my London-based friend that the UK version “was heaven for kids” and her ten-year old son concurred, “one word, three letters, Y-U-M”. As we were leaving, the marble-topped bar was crowded with pint-sized patrons eating their fill, so it would seem that Dubai’s tasters already agree.
Service is very friendly and the new staff are earnest in their wish to please. Telephone booking was efficient, and I was even treated to a telephonic precis of menu highlights, which included beef wellington. Sadly the serving is for two, so of no interest to my veggie companion, but something for another visit.
Gordon Ramsay promised he would return to Dubai with something a little more upbeat, to reflect changing times. Bread Street Kitchen offers uncomplicated, honest to goodness food, with ingredients which are immediately recognisable and well priced at AED270 per person for three courses (without alcohol). It presents a something for everyone menu (provided you are not vegan or veggie). Has he moved with the times and can he anticipate a warm Dubai welcome with Bread Street Kitchen? I think so. What do you think of brand Gordon? Here’s to a 3.5 out of 5 FooFiva knife rating.
Who is FooDiva’s guest reviewer Melanie? Journalist, trainer and formerly in the service of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Melanie believes that food and travel should be inextricably linked. Connecting with food forges links to people, a culture and a way of life, and sharing a good meal has probably achieved more for diplomatic relations then any well-drafted missive or communique ever did.