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Review: Jason Atherton’s Marina Social

Restaurant Review: Marina Social

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  • Avg. Cost per Person:

    225 Dhs
  • Location:  

    InterContinental Dubai Marina Hotel, Dubai Marina , Dubai
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Opening hours:
Daily 6pm-midnight

Phone number:
04 446 6664

If you’ve had your ear to Dubai’s social ground then you’ve probably heard of Jason Atherton and his big local venture. Marina Social has probably been on every foodie’s radar and is part of the Michelin-starred chef’s ‘Social’ line of restaurants that span from the UK to Singapore.

Tucked away on the first floor of the shiny new InterContinental Dubai Marina, is the very cool Social Room, a casual bar, and Marina Social, the restaurant. Even though it has a massive name behind it, the restaurant stays true to Atherton’s aim of being understated and unpretentious. The interiors are urban and metallic warmed up by wood panels and dim lighting. You know it’s fancy, but you wouldn’t be too worried if you dropped your fork.

The British-Mediterranean restaurant has a sharing concept, so after my friend and I order all our dishes in one go (we were hungry), we waited patiently.

We start with the waiter-recommended ‘Social dog’ duck and foie gras sausage (Dh60). Duck and foie gras together seemed a bit too sinful for a hot dog. But the rich meats, along with caramelised onions, made for a tender and heady bite. The next starter, the buratta served stuffed in a plump tomato (Dh85), was refreshing and light with an unexpected extra stuffing that seemed like a tomato relish. Served with 25-year aged balsamic, I could see it becoming a Dubai foodie favourite.

Among the mains we tried, the duck leg agnolotti (Dh85), a stuffed pasta, served with white onion puree was a star. The duck was fragrant and sweet and a crunchy crumble sprinkled over the dainty parcels added a unique texture to every bite.

Then we tried a pulled lamb and basil pesto flat bread (Dh85), made with the restaurant’s own fresh sourdough. The pesto, lamb and creamy ricotta were a great flavour combination but the dough was too chewy and it distracted from the flavour of the toppings.

Getting to the meats, we tried the Black Onyx Angus Tenderloin (Dh300) and Victoria lamb rump and belly (Dh165). My friend’s beef was seared to perfection (his own words) and had a great savoury flavour — a classic dish done well. The lamb, just two small pieces, lacked seasoning and the overpowering gamey flavour of the meat threw the dish completely off balance. The baby gem lettuce and mint sauce did little to enhance the dish.

At this point I was looking for a clear winner in the dessert section. Sadly, the Social Gelato (Dh50), could not deliver. We were served a tiered rack of around 10 small scoops of gelato and handed a card listing the flavours. Diving blindly into the scoops was fun at first — very much a social activity — but it got tedious matching the too-mildly flavoured scoops to the list. From the ones we did identify, the chocolate one was a winner — smooth and rich; the verbena one was a fresh, tart treat; while a tepid mango and pineapple version would have made a good lassi. There was also a greyish looking Jerusalem artichoke flavour, to which I could only ask, why?

Even though the food was hit-and-miss, with some dishes exciting the palate and some coming across as plain boring, I have to admit I had a good time. From the knowledgeable staff to the pleasant atmosphere and the busy open kitchen, the elements to make a hub of socialisation are all there. The fact that I can see myself going back to sample some of the other intriguing dishes on the menu means Marina Social has managed to charm me.

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