Jazz by City Social Dubai serves up sizzling tunes, tantalizing dishes, and views that'll leave you jazzed!
You do wonder how it will turn out. ‘Jazz by City’ is an event limited to three nights a week in a secluded dining space within the wider City Social restaurant, and City Social’s website and Instagram liberally reference its “celebrity chef,” “culinary magic,” and “culinary wonderland.” City Social shies away from the trendy trappings to which a venue can so often fall victim and, instead, offers a fully-realized and sophisticated experience.
Jason Atherton is one of Britain’s most accomplished chefs, having completed tours of duty under Pierre Koffman, Marco Pierre White, and Gordon Ramsay with a litter of Michelin stars in his wake: Pollen Street Social and the former Maze, to name a few. He opened City Social in Dubai earlier this year; a restaurant twinned with its Michelin-starred namesake in London. While Jason was not there the evening we visited, he is a chef who checks in on his restaurants regularly.
City Social sprawls across three elegantly decorated floors of Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina. The bar on the 43rd floor lures with its skyline views and slinky modern pastiche — before ascending to the 44th floor for the more exclusive ‘Jazz by City Social.’
There is a maturity to ‘Jazz by City’ that threads across to its music and menu. A few tables, low lighting, and an unspoken whisper of sensibility. Jazz lovers hoping for instrumental performances will not find those here. Instead, a tall singer with monochrome hair saunters around tables crooning Etta James as gentle claps of appreciation rise between performances. Here, the live performances do not take center stage like an acrobatic act on a cruise ship; instead, the entertainment buttresses the evening without seeking to distract.
The dining room occupies a sophisticated, intimate space that aims to soothe. It’s bathed in pale neutral tones with warm contrasts. Scandinavian accents of natural wood are inflected around the dining room. Parquet floors lead your eyes towards a near-widescreen oversized window that frames a view that vies for your attention overlooking Bluewaters and Ain Dubai.
Our waiter slips us our menus. ‘Jazz by City’s’ menu pivots away from City Social’s Japanese inspirations, choosing to focus on a New York-style grill with British, French, and Italian fingerprints across the pages. An elevated menu is admirably restrained to no more than 30 dishes between its starters, salads, mains, and grilled dishes, without skipping dessert. Because, who skips dessert?
There are no deconstructions, no obvious spherifications, and no culinary pirouettes. The menu revisits classic dishes served beautifully as if to pay homage. A reminder that the hocus pocus of dry ice and such serves to distract when quality can speak for itself. Some dishes call out to us, such as the smoked salmon tranche with a lemon hollandaise, heritage tomato with burrata and basil pesto, grilled Maine Lobster basted in garlic butter, or a totemic one-kilo Côte de Boeuf (to share) that would even cause a Rottweiler to stop for a breather.
The service is attentive without being obsequious. Engaging, knowledgeable, and with the right amount of charm. Marshall, our waiter, brings a nostalgic Boston prawn salad lightly dressed in Marie rose and a tempura-stuffed courgette flower so crispy it cracks like a walnut under the pressure of a fork. The stuffing of soft goat cheese laced with kaffir lime and chili is warmed with drizzled truffle honey. We “uhm” and “ah” over whether to order a wagyu burger or the corn-fed chicken paillard with harissa and feta cheese and we hungrily eye passing trays groaning with rigatoni and burrata with the unmistakable waft of truffle and Parmesan fries.
But this is a Saturday night, and we did not throw on velvet jackets and heels not to push the boat out. We plumb for the beautifully rich Sanchoku wagyu dry-aged rib eye with glassy Koffman triple-cooked chips, béarnaise, and peppercorn sauce. The grilled whole Dover sole wallows in a pool of brown butter served with a light lemon butter sauce sharp enough to cut through the Dover sole’s richness while bringing the whole dish together. This fish could easily be shared between two, together with the grilled asparagus liberally lawned with grated Parmesan.
Before bringing our comforting crème brûlée with a quenelle of blackberry sorbet, Marshall brings a puzzle of five white ice creams encased in a wooden box. We are tasked with guessing each flavor before they verify our results. A strong four out of five, Marshall tells us, but we will argue we got all five! It is a playful end that caps off a charming evening.
‘Jazz by City’ is a classy affair and feels special with recognizable, well-executed dishes, elegant service, and an understated dining space. Those looking for a trendy new spot to impress out-of-town visitors, a sophisticated date, or celebrate special occasions need not look any further than this exclusive experience enhanced by a soulful jazz singer and an incomparable view.
‘Jazz by City’ is available on limited nights between Thursdays to Saturdays, from 8pm to 11.30pm at City Social, Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Al Emreef Street, Dubai Marina, Dubai.
For reservations or more information, check the Jazz by City website or call +971 4 402 2222.