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REVIEW: Grape and Harvest Lunch at Asado

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If you’ve been in Dubai longer than two minutes, the chances are you’ve already heard someone sing the praises of Asado. The Argentinean restaurant at Palace Downtown is the first name on most people’s lips when it comes to naming a premium steak joint in the emirate. Even if you haven’t been yet, there’s a reasonable chance someone you know has.

What you might not know is that Asado has launched a lunchtime menu, a relatively new concept for restaurant. So new in fact, that Google still only lists the opening time from 6pm, which kind of flummoxed us when we were seeking to confirm our booking. Fear not, though, this is now very much a place for dining in the middle of the day, too.

What strikes you first about Asado is how homely it all feels, which is thanks to the wood interior that feels warm and relaxing. We set up camp near the back of the restaurant and set out to forage for food amongst the various stations – another new element for the venue is allowing you to wander around and grab whatever dish you fancy.

The first stop for us is at the taco station, where a chef will lovingly prepare either a chicken, prawn or vegetable version on a soft tortilla with just the right amount of toppings on demand. We went for the poultry, which had just a hint of char to the succulent meat, and we can attest to how good a freshly made taco can be. So good, in fact, that we almost over-stuffed ourselves on them, which would’ve made this piece about 300 words shorter.

The taco station also included a number of traditional Latin America dishes like the Coxinha de Frango (mashed potato and minced beef), a chicken tamales that came sealed in a banana leaf parcel, and a pomegranate quinoa salad that provided a welcome distraction from the meat. These were wonderfully light, yet sumptuous and ideal for the type of mid-afternoon fuel that won’t make you sleepy afterwards.

Elsewhere, the BBQ pit – located within an impressive glass chamber in the middle of Asado – was busy cooking up a goat. The meat trimmed from it was part of an overall chargrilled experience that includes cuts of beef, lamb chops, veal ribs, king prawns and a beef chorizo sausage that was exceptional on the tongue. Even the ceviche was brilliantly on point.

With so many delicacies to sample we almost – almost – forgot about the well-stocked cheese station. A smoky soft cheese was the champion here, which we considered eating the whole of until sense finally kicked in. But it was good that it did, otherwise we’d have missed the sugary churros, Nutella-filled pancakes and a rich chocolate tart that rounded off the meal perfectly.

When restaurants go off-piste in an attempt to draw in a new crowd, the temptation to go with gimmicks can destroy a reputation. Thankfully, Asado has pitched its lunch time menu with the same care, attention and deliciousness as those great steaks you’ve almost certainly heard of by now.

Three dishes to try

Tacos Al Pastor
Succulent prawns or chicken are lovingly stacked with just enough toppings.

Chorizo Parrillero
A delicious sausage concoction that you’ll go back for again and again.

Chocolate tart
Crumbly pastry and rich chocolate filling combine beautifully.

Asado
Where: Palace Downtown
Contact: +971 4 888 3444, website

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