DUBAI: Thursday night. Date night. A night for my partner and I to talk through the week over a glass and treat ourselves to something other than our regular salad dinner. It's important that Thursday night restaurants live up to their reputation.
With that in mind, we selected a night at Andiamo!, the Italian restaurant at Grand Hyatt.
Now, I must be honest, my night didn't quite start with the bang I'd hoped for. Business meetings meant I had to wait half an hour for my partner to join me, with only a loaf of crispy warm bread and my glass of sparkling to keep me company.
Credit where it's due then that seeing a lone woman impatiently checking her watch every five minutes, the restaurant manager very discreetly organised for flowers to be sent to my table, as an apology for having made me wait. On the house, as he whispered to my partner.
Naturally, I was already inclined towards enjoying the rest of what this tactful restaurant had to offer.
Our starters were classy and sophisticated enough to keep me impressed. My Carpaccio Di Tonno or Tuna Carpaccio, a dish that's Italian to its core with wafer-thin slices of tuna dressed with sesame, olive oil and lemon, with tasteful chunks of melon for that added kick.
My partner, meanwhile, went for a vegetable that isn't on too many Dubai menus: Leeks.
His Porri All'Aceto came in a soup dish with two leeks topped tastefully with gorgonzola cheese, holding firm in a pool of broth. To the unprepared, the dish takes you by surprise with its buttery texture swimming in a tart broth. It would have been near perfect except for the fact that the serving was too large for a starter. Just one leek would have sufficed to tantalise the taste buds.
Still not about to diss a dish for being too large, we gave it our nod of approval before moving on to our mains: Halibut Avvolti In Patate Dolci and Gnocchi di Patata. My partner's Gnocchi, or soft potato dumplings, came deliciously paired with a tomato compote. A traditional Italian marriage.
My Halibut Avvolti, however, was a whole different ball game. The roasted halibut came wrapped in a sheet of sweet potato, on a bed of vegetable couscous. Now, I love halibut; I love couscous; and most especially, I love sweet potato. Individually. Put together, I wasn't sure what to expect.
While the couscous and halibut went together perfectly, I'm not too sure about the sweet potato. It wasn't really sweet, nor was it too potato-ish. But miraculously, the sweetness of the potato oozed through the tender white flesh, making the fish just juicy enough for my palate.
Unable to finish yet another large serving, surprising then that both of us had space for dessert.
And how could I not? Ever since devouring Baba Al Rhum in France last year, I'd searched high and low for a restaurant able to offer that dish. Andiamo! was that restaurant. And just for that alone, it deserves the exclamation mark at the end of its name.
The Rhum Baba, as it's called in English, is a sinfully rich yeast cake, served in hot syrup. My partner, meanwhile, went the Mille Feuille route with Millefoglie di Castagno; (chestnut mille feuille, cumquats and pistachio compote).
A couple of espressos later, we left. Me with my newly-acquired bunch of roses. And my partner, spared from the potential wrath of business overtaking pleasure.
If Andiamo! continues to lend this personal a touch with every guest, they may just become a talking point.