A slew of exciting new restaurants across the Downtown Dubai are now competing for your attention. From gorgeous views of the Burj Khalifa to Instagrammable food, here are the trendiest eateries to stop off at (with masks and safe distancing of course)– with something for (almost) everyone.
Italian beauty: Bella
Homegrown superstar chef Alessandro Miceli fronts Bella, the rooftop Italian at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Business Bay. The focus is on food at this elegant new venue: classic Italian with light Asian influences. General Manager Stefano Bassanese is betting you’ll come for the gilded interiors and skyline view but stay for the fuss-free food. “Chef Alessandro is inspired by the words of Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the utmost sophistication.” Expect art on a plate and all that.
Roaring good: Tipsy Lion
The UK may be in lockdown, but there’s nothing stopping you from getting a taste of British food at this traditional pub on the terrace of the Sofitel Downtown. It opened doors just shy of a month ago and comes with all the trimmings: live music, Union Jack décor, butter chicken pie, vegan ‘buffalo wings’ and triple-cooked chips. Not a drop of rain in sight, but there’s a Great British Brunch.
Perfect plates: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
A perfectionist to the core, Joël Robuchon famously said there’s no such thing as a perfect meal, because one can always do better. That approach led the chef’s restaurants to simultaneously hold a total of 32 Michelin stars, driven partly by his signature fusion blend of nouvelle, haute cuisine, and Japanese influences. Robuchon may no longer be with us, but his philosophy lives on in every single dish at his Dubai restaurant, which opened in October and is overseen by his protégée Axel Manes. Like other L’Atelier outlets, the DIFC Gate Village branch is typically laid out around an open kitchen, with a menu of mainstays – such as Robuchon’s famous mashed potatoes.
Weetabix viral: Ultra Brasserie
Have you had your Weetabix and beans yet? Wrong or right, it’s the go-to combination of the moment. UAE restaurants are cashing in on the “criminal” food pairing, with homegrown Emaar Square standby Ultra Brasserie serving it up every morning to the end of February. If that’s not quite your thing, call for their Vegemite and cheese or avocado and eggs while you pretend to work from their outdoor garden.
Turkish delight: CZN Burak
Even if you didn’t know Burak Özdemir’s name, his smile has launched a thousand gifs. Now it’s launching a Turkish-Middle Eastern contemporary restaurant, CZN Burak. After serving 45,000 guests in December, the restaurant was closed to enforce Covid-19 safety regulations but has been operational again since Valentine’s Day. On the menu are mixed grills, casseroles and cheese kunafa straight from the 26-year-old’s Instagram feed. There’s also shisha and mocktails, but the true test is getting a table! Good luck.
Golden sunset: Cé La Vi
With all the connections between Dubai and Singapore, it’s a wonder we haven’t imported more brands from that other city of dreams. No matter, Cé La Vi bridges the gap admirably. Fresh from its box-office debut in Crazy Rich Asians, the restaurant opened at the Address Sky View just before Miss Rona’s famous act, so chances are you haven’t dropped by yet. General Manager David Lescarret says you need to do so now because it offers the best view of the Burj Khalifa (at sunset), but of course, also for that bucket-list Instapic on the swing. #CrazyRichDubaians – this one’s for you.
Hall’s well: South Market
For a break from the city’s excess, head to a food hall instead, right in the heart of DIFC. South Market serves as a one-stop shop for 15 gourmet kitchens from around the world, so there’s no need to argue over what cuisine you’re going to eat. There’s sweet milk tea from Singapore’s Modern Asian Desserts (M.A.D.), Takoyaki (octopus balls) from Japan’s streets, all-day cereal from Cereal Killer Café, Montreal favourite poutine, and much, much more. With travel so restricted at the moment, this urban hub is just the place to explore your wanderlust.