Rockfish: location, location and only location
Rockfish, a “Mediterranean seafood” restaurant in the new Jumeirah Al Naseem is a classic example of a restaurant in Dubai that relies solely on a dashing location to attract mainly tourists.
The setting is a little set back from the beach, with Burj Al Arab towering above. Gorgeous by day and night. Rockfish’s main dining area boasts French windows that open out to a terraced deck, and a few low-level tables for sundowners. For an 8.30pm booking on a Thursday, we can pretty much pick our al fresco table, but the restaurant fills up by the end of our meal.
The menu starts off with a compelling ‘crudo’ raw seafood section, which in this case is essentially ceviche-cum-tiradito; moving onto salads and one appetiser; a couple of soups; oysters and a seafood platter; main courses; and three sharing dishes. It’s compact yet diverse to give diners enough choice.
A foccacia-style bread basket, which takes a while to rock up, in fact just before our first starter, is completely stale – what a waste of carbs. The ahi tuna crudo that arrives next is diced and mixed with a salsa verde and delicious whole caper berries. The tuna is soft and succulent, with a well balanced, exquisite dressing. It’s the only dish of the night that is well executed. On the other hand, our second starter, a tiger prawn crudo mixed with diced avocado, shredded green apple and red radish has an off-putting sour after taste.
Onto mains, a seafood mixed grill arrives with pomfret fillet, prawns, scallops and calamari – under-seasoned and forgettable. The accompanying tahini sauce is so watered down, it leaves a sesame residue. A small bowl of wild rice is pretty bland. Given Rockfish prides itself on serving “Mediterranean seafood” (according to its website), why not offer a display of fresh fish that diners can choose to have grilled, with a dash of olive oil and lemon dressing?
I order the red snapper tagine with braised fennel, peppers, Taggiasca olives and preserved lemon, partly because I am a sucker for anything Moroccan, but I also hope to be wowed by a mini earthenware tagine presentation, but oh no, it is served in classic white crockery. Why, oh why?! The menu may as well read ‘stew’. The local red snapper is so over-cooked it has curled and is completely chewy – in contrast to the undercooked potatoes. I doubt this dish is made as a tagine, but instead, each ingredient is cooked separately and tossed together at the last minute.
With a sour taste, literally and metaphorically, I begrudgingly order a dessert to share for the sake of reviewing. The exotic citrus pavlova arrives as a stale meringue shell surrounded by diced compressed pineapple and a kumquat compote. When I crack open the meringue, I find some rather dry lemon curd with no sign of any whipped cream or the gooey centre that distinguishes a pavlova. It’s a dessert that is clearly prepped well in advance, and simply plated at the time of serving. So underwhelming.
The cocktail list has some interesting concoctions – my twist on a margarita with date honey and a sumac-salted rim is excellent, but expensive (starting price of AED65) – as is the Champagne and wine list.
Service is Rockfish’ one redeeming feature, and apart from a long delay with our starters, is efficient, friendly and knowledgeable. If you order the cheapest dishes, expect to pay a minimum of AED255, but on average, you’re looking at AED300 for three courses per person, which is on the high side.
Rockfish with its five-star location has the potential to mimic its neighbour and sibling Shimmers, but, bar one dish, the quality, execution, flavour and presentation of the food is poor. It looks like Jumeirah, with its vast spread of F&B, is only interested in targeting holidaymakers who will dine at most of its restaurants just once. The old hotelier mantra of ‘location, location, location’ is certainly important, but not at the expense of the food. This also brings up another argument that perhaps hoteliers should stick to running rooms and get the experts, i.e restaurateurs, to develop and operate restaurants. By all means, go to Rockfish for a sundowner cocktail, but eat at your peril. Here’s to a 2.5 out of 5 FooDiva knife rating.
Do you think hotels would benefit by leasing out their outlets to home-grown restaurant groups and/ or imported brands? What al fresco restaurants with good food do you enjoy frequenting?
It’s sadly about location, location and ONLY location in this review of new opening Rockfish @jumeirahalnaseem ??. I think I have come to the conclusion that hoteliers should stick to running rooms and get the experts, i.e restaurateurs to develop and operate their restaurants. What do you reckon? Review now live on www.foodiva.net (see link in profile). ? of the only well executed dish. ??? #foodivareviews