We respect Gary Rhodes. Because, while most celeb chefs with restaurants here fly in for the photo-op opening, very few actually return on a regular basis. Not Gary though, the man known for his passion for British grub comes to the UAE on a regular basis to check in on his two (soon to be three!) restaurants.
And as with any business, if the boss cares so will the rest of the team – so from the moment we strolled into the purple dining room, we were greeted with a refreshing mix of energy and passion from the Rhodes Twenty10 team.
Our first formidable task was to decide just what, from the sharing starter’s menu, to munch on – and all while supping on a smoking colour-change cocktail (it actually goes from green to purple in front of your eyes). While the feta-stuffed falafel fritters and the crab, new potato, scallions and soft quail’s eggs were tempting, we eventually decided on melting Welsh rarebit mushrooms, Oxtail cottage pie, warm home smoked salmon and preserved lemon sliders and chicken and tiger prawn satay sticks.
As you can tell, the menu is an inventive take on British cuisine – with plenty of Middle Eastern and Asian influence thrown in for good measure, which you could argue is all a part of Brit food. And our favourite of the starters had to be the smoked salmon sliders thanks to a wonderfully aromatic lemon sauce (which had a subtly seductive hint of vanilla). The warming stew that was the Oxtail cottage pie was a close contender for second, however.
When it came time for mains, we were tempted by the vegetarian option of chestnut mushroom and celeriac pastry, but in the end opted for the recommended grilled spicy chicken sticks and saffron curry risotto and, of course, the signature dish of the restaurant: the Rhodes Twenty10 burger. The risotto was a creamy study in saffron with a hint of curry-leaf flavour, while the burger was a meat-lover’s dream. A large steak burger (almost like a tartare) on a roast confit potato, served with seared foie gras and devilled sauce – it looks oddly minimalist on the plate (there’s no bun of any sort) but is, in fact, a rich, hearty dish that’s only for true red meat fans.
Exceptionally full, we persisted and tried dessert because Mr Rhodes is known for his puds. The pistachio crème brûlée was an aromatic delight (with a satisfyingly crunchy top), while the strawberry shortcake with a touch of vanilla icing was a refreshing way to end a flavour-rich meal.
Location Le Royal Méridien, Dubai Marina
Tel 04 399 8888
Timing 7pm-midnight, daily
The Rib Room
This excellent steakhouse – we also love the adjoining wine bar – serves up a Wagyu burger that never disappoints (Dh115). It comes with tangy Cheddar cheese, chilli con carne and fries, while options like a fried egg, spicy calamari and pan fried foie gras can be added for a little extra.
Location Jumeirah Emirates Towers
Timing 12.30pm-3pm, Sun-Thurs, 7pm-midnight, daily
Tel 04 319 8088
Jones The Grocer
Served on a wooden chopping block, Jones’ burger is a wagyu creation made delicious thanks to a brioche bun and the secret sauce – bois boudran (a vinegary, slightly spicy concoction). Finish off your meal with a delicious coffee – they know their brew in Jones – and perhaps a petite pastry. Yum.
Location Sheikh Zayed Road, Umm Suqeim
Timing 9am-10.30pm, daily
Tel 04 346 6886
This classy, New York-style steakhouse is famous for its giant burger with delicious Monterey Jack cheese. The moreish concoction is served with the crispiest, most-delicious fries you’ll ever get your hands on.
Location Grand Hyatt, Oud Metha
Timing 12.30pm-3pm, Sunday-Thursday; 7.30pm-11.30pm, daily
Tel 04 317 2222