REVIEW: Miss Lily's
Usain Bolt was famously powered by Chicken McNuggets when he won his first Olympic gold medal in 2008, reportedly devouring more than 1,000 of them during his time in Beijing. Before that, though, Bolt’s ascent to athletic immortality was fuelled by the food of his homeland.
While we’d love to be able to promise you can run the 100 metres in 9.58 seconds after a trip to Miss Lily’s, the new Jamaican restaurant at the Sheraton Grand, exercise really isn’t recommended. Hearty food and sugarcane-based beverages are just not conducive to PBs. Not immediately anyway.
You will still see records at Miss Lily’s, though; the walls of the Dubai edition of this New York chain are colourfully adorned with an array of ska and reggae vinyl covers. It feels like you’ve stumbled into a family home in Kingston – as well as the music collection, dry ingredients sit on shelves and the kitchen areas are separated from the restaurant with those gaudy material curtains. One expects that a peek behind one would reveal Miss Lily herself, cheerily stirring a batch of goat curry and making her jerk marinade.
That’s important, too. The best restaurants and bars in Dubai are the ones that make you forget you are within the confines of a five-star hotel and Miss Lily’s certainly achieves that. The décor, the staff and the menu all combine to create a laid-back, friendly atmosphere.
The sunny demeanour is further brightened by the starters. Though admittedly a little dainty in size, they manage to pack in a fair old punch of flavour – notably the spicy escovitch of julienned peppers and onions that sits on the duo of fish tacos. Salt-cod fritters are bite-sized battered balls of soft fish that go down a little too easily when smothered in sweet curry sauce, while the ackee hummus and roti flatbread is an inventive use of Jamaica’s national fruit, a little edge provided by the burnt onions piled on top.
For the main event, a big bowl of curry goat stew is placed invitingly in the middle of the table. Jamaicans are renowned for speed but the goat is slow-cooked to perfection and each time a forkful of meat is found among the thick, gently warming gravy, it feels like a real reward. If they ever introduce an Olympic event for picking out morsels of goat, we’d definitely fancy our chances of medalling.
There’s rice to soak up the sauce but a little more exciting is a portion of fries – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside – served with Scotch bonnet mayo. It is warming for sure but doesn’t quite deliver that “blow your socks off” heat that we were expecting.
Like the mayo, Miss Lily’s jerk chicken could probably also do with just a hint more spice, though the seasoning is still full in flavour and the meat moist. Rice and peas are a staple accompaniment in Caribbean cuisine and the Dubai version gets a firm thumbs up, with its familiar marriage of allspice, thyme and coconut milk.
For dessert, the dark chocolate cremeux is outrageously indulgent – though the passion fruit curd and sorbet do a great job of cutting through the richness of a portion of chocolate mousse the size of a fist. There are doughnuts too but before you ask, they are not “wi jam in” – sorry/not sorry – their guava and nutella filling offers a better flavour combination than a punchline.
With its well-executed Caribbean concept, Miss Lily’s really is a bolt from the blue, adding some welcome soul and style to the Dubai dining scene.
Three dishes to try...
Ackee hummus and roti flatbread
A staple food of Jamaica that is successfully masquerading as a staple of the Middle East.
Classic and very warming West Indian stew with generous amounts of goat, carrot and potato. Not baaa-d!
This is a giant chocolatey hug on a plate. A delicious, sticky and extremely indulgent dessert, it really needs two spoons. Oh, and two people, of course.
Where: Sheraton Grand Hotel
Contact: +9714 354 4074