Best of British food in Dubai
Poor old Britain. It may be noted for its many contributions to culture – rock music, comedy, the wearing of polo shirts with the top button done up – but food has never really been among them. Indeed, cuisine from Europe’s damp, north-western outpost has long been the butt of many a joke. The truth, though, is eating bad British food these days is as much the fault of the diner as the establishment; there’s too much good stuff around for the stereotype to hold true.
In the UAE, where British expats have long found a welcome, there are an abundance of places that serve the best of the country’s food, catering to hearty appetites that still think it’s raining outside.
Reform Social and Grill
Where: The Lakes, Emirates Living
How much? AED400 for two
The styling’s of an upscale gastro pub make out the interiors of the Reform Grill, with a long dark bar and wood finishing’s complimented by seating from tall pub tables with stools to comfortable arm chairs around low lounging tables. The menu is definitely British, including fish and chips, roasted meats, a number of pies and the classic pub burgers. While the prices are more haute cuisine than pub fireside, the place has become a firm favourite for the Springs and Lakes communities.
The Rivington Grill
Where: Madinat Jumeirah
How much? AED600 for two
Just as you would hope for with any spot calling itself a grill, the steaks here are fantastic. Rumps, rib eye and fillets all cooked to your specification could keep the multitude of patrons happy. Is it really British, though? Well, the Rivington stems from a London establishment and the widely praised fish and chips takes centre stage on the menu. Devonshire crab and Dover sole are also Anglophile highlights.
The Rib Room
Where: Jumeirah Emirates Towers
How much? AED500
Rather like The Rivington, this place is perhaps more New York than New Forest, but the placement of the word “British” before “steakhouse” removes any doubt where its influences lie. The Rib Room, located on the ground level of the Emirates Towers, has been a long-time staple on the Dubai culinary scene and serves up an extensive selection of meat and seafood. That said, the distinctly un-British John Stone steak tartare, with dry-aged grass-fed beef, is perhaps the highlight of an excellent menu.
Where: Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina
How much? AED550
The name Gary Rhodes is synonymous with British cuisine, as well being one of the more involved chefs with Dubai’s culinary culture. This blend has enabled him to launch Rhodes W1 late last year, after closing his previous restaurant situated at the same location. The concept here is classic British dishes served up with as much quality and flair as possible. This became apparent through our ordering of the Shepherd’s pie, a winter favourite, and here served using eight-hour braised lamb shoulders for the meat. The decor pays slight homage to the previous location as you’ll notice on entering, but the level of food, and service, is a notch ahead.
Wheeler’s of St. James’ by Marco Pierre White
How Much? AED600
He might have an Italian name and a French culinary education, but Marco is a Leeds lad and helped reinvent British food with the establishment of Wheeler’s of St James’ in London. In Dubai, the menu is a celebration of hearty food, from the roasts to the classic fish pie, but it’s perhaps the desserts that wave the Union Jack most proudly, with the Eton mess, spotted dick and sticky toffee pudding all requiring an extra stomach at the end of your meal. The interior is clean with some wonderful light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, and after chatting to one server it seems a few were taken straight from an English location in order to keep the same level of service. It has definitely worked.
Where: Jumeirah Emirates Towers
How Much? AED650
The Ivy is another transplant from London, where it made a name as the home of the capital’s glitterati. The dark leather and wood decor that provide a gentleman’s club feel, although the menu does seek to acknowledge its surroundings with the inclusion of some Middle Eastern staples such as popular mezzes. If you want the “full” British experience, go for breakfast. Just make sure you’ve taken the day off beforehand.