13 Jan 2019 AT 10:51 AM

REVIEW: Marina Social

We put chef Jason Atherton's new vegan menu to the test
13 Jan 2019 AT 10:51 AM
REVIEW: Marina Social

We’ve started “Veganuary” early. It’s the end of December, but we head down to the British-Mediterranean hybrid restaurant to sample some of the plant-based offerings and get a head start on our 2019 “meatox”. Walking through the hotel, we’re pleasantly surprised as we wind around to the charming terrace overlooking the waters where our table is located. Living up to the name, the views of the Marina by night are dazzling, and we feel adequately social in the setting. So far, so ambient.

After quenching our thirst with the mixologist’s refreshing cucumber concoction, we glance over the vegan menu and breathe a sigh of relief that there isn’t just one default option involving mushrooms or lettuce. The result of having the likes of acclaimed Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton heading up the kitchen, no doubt.

A simple but coveted wood fired garlic flatbread with piperade dip lands on our table to begin, with a baby gem radish salad featuring salted cucumber, avocado puree and horseradish. Whole roasted garlic arrives ready to be spread onto the loaf, and while it’s not the finest (the bread was a bit stale), it’s satisfying enough and mutes our initial ravenous hunger. The salad however is a little delicious treasure – the avocado adding a needed creamy touch to the dairy-free option. Temporarily appeased, we enjoy the lights overlooking the glistening waters as we wait for our mains to arrive. 

Torn between KFC (that’s “Korean Fried Cauliflower”) and the pea and mint risotto with black truffle, we opt for the former as it’s far more intriguing. Can this master chef serve up the colourless vegetable, that’s often encased in cheese by traditionalists and used for crust by hipsters? It arrives, and any sign of a health benefit has been heavily disguised, which is ideal for veggies or vegans accustomed to being greeted with a dry bowl of leaves at most restaurants. Sticky and sweet, the deep-fried balls are both crunchy on the outside and soft inside and we’re impressed at the dressing up of the vegetable. Thin slices of pickled lemon blanket the dish to add a welcome zesty touch, too.  It might not be enough on its own as a main dish (we order another flatbread for the table to up the calorie count) but we’re happy to see an inventive approach to the plant based menu.

That’s until pudding. We spoon through sorbet to round off the meal. Yes it’s refreshing, but it’s also exactly what’s expected, and nothing to sing about from the rooftops. But that said, we leave happy, full, and well catered for. If you’re looking for the place to satisfy herbivores and carnivores alike, Marina Social is definitely it.

Non-vegan options...
Atlantic crab salad

Yes it’s AED113 for a salad, but the meat-eating side of the party said it’s the best starter they’ve had in a long time.

Beef Wellington
It’s a British classic, and it’s perfected here. The perfect option if you’re anti-Veganuary.

Hazelnut chocolate bar
Served with condensed milk ice cream, it’s a real end of meal treat that’s not to be missed.

Marina Social 
Where: InterContinental Dubai Marina
Contact: +9714 446 6777