If today feels more like January 71st than January 31st, no judgment. The seemingly longest month of the year comes to a close today, so many of you are undoubtedly taking a moment to reflect on your New Year’s resolutions – eating cleaner, exercising more, et al – and applauding yourselves for just how faithfully you stuck by them. And then there are the editors at Savoir Flair.
Yes, we still attempted to dine on healthy options whenever possible. And yes, we still made it to the gym on occasion. But we also frequented virtually every new eatery in town – all in the name of research, of course. Here, we share our verdicts.
Delicious food? Check. Date-night spot? Check. Friendly staff, a fabulous soundtrack of lounge tunes dating back to the 60s and 70s, and spectacular views of the surrounding skyline? Check, check, check. While there are plenty of Lebanese, Moroccan, and Iraqi restaurants dotted across Dubai, few do so with the panache of Ninive. Named after – and inspired by – the ancient city of Nineveh (where the elusive Hanging Gardens of Babylon once stood), the new eatery is located on an elevated terrace rife with flora and fauna in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Interestingly, you have to walk through La Cantine du Faubourg to get to Ninive, but once you arrive, you’re instantly transported to a world away from the perpetual frenzy of the city’s financial district.
Pure pleasure is the name of the game when it comes to the menu – the offerings have been drawn from across the Middle East and North Africa, fused with European cooking techniques, and plated to perfection. Of the starters, you’ll definitely want to give the ‘Zaalouk’ and ‘Cheese Briwat’ a try. As far as the mains go – well, essentially anything grilled is a winner here, but the seabass fillet is the one to beat. Try to resist the urge to fill up on hearty accompaniments because the best of the best awaits towards the end of the meal: almond kunafeh served ingeniously with a light and tangy orange sorbet.
The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers
(+971) 4 326 6105
“Social dining” and beloved Asian staples (yes, pho and ramen included) come together at the recently opened BB, a homegrown concept attracting the well-heeled types from DIFC and beyond. There are three rather intimately sized floors to choose from, each with a wonderfully bright and airy feel. Between the striped seating, pop-of-color cushions, bronze mirrors, checkered-tile flooring, and potted plants aplenty, its décor is a far cry what you’d expect at a Dubai restaurant – but in a good way. Head over while the weather is still in your favor, and request a table on the outdoor terrace while you’re at it.
From the selection of cheekily named bao sandwiches, the ‘Habibti’ is the one to start with. A generous filling of softshell crab, watercress, and jalapeno dressing takes up residence in a soft and fluffy bun, arriving at your table perched perfectly onto an adorable “bao stand”. We were pleasantly surprised to find that herbivores are spoilt for choice at BB, with vegetarian options like ‘Super Green Hummus’ and ‘Cauliflower Popcorn’ to choose from. But if you had to choose just one, make it the ‘Super Freekeh’, a dish of impeccably grilled aubergine accented with freekeh and pomegranate. While Eastern flavors have been infused into many of the desserts, BB’s patrons can’t get enough of the highly Instagrammable ‘Fry Pan Brownie’. You’ll see why once you’re there.
Gate Village 8, DIFC
(+971) 4 407 4444
Everything about the “passionately different and deliciously naughty” Masti feels achingly cool. The extensive drinks menu is determined to make mocktails sexy, the eclectic décor is part playful and part speakeasy, and the always-buzzy ambiance makes you want to linger – heck, even the heavily bejeweled faces embellishing the menu, the walls, and the coasters are dripping with intrigue.
This appeal (thankfully) carries into Masti’s culinary offerings as well. The ‘Pulled Tandoori Chicken Bao’ is served with a little dropper filled with tamarind glaze, the eponymous ‘Masti Fries’ are prepared with Togarashi spice, and the multifaceted ‘Eggplant Bharta & Crostini’ accompanies a fun little scrape-and-serve routine by a member of the waitstaff. By now, you have may guessed that Masti specializes in Indian-inspired cuisine with a little added oomph. While the ‘Quail Eggs Kofta’ and ‘Bhatti Merguez’ are must-orders for meat lovers, there’s a seafood item that’s not to be missed: the ‘Banana Leaf Branzino’. Pair this with the ‘Pesto Pulao’ and thank us later.
La Mer, Jumeirah 1
The name Izu Ani needs no introduction for hardcore foodies across Dubai and, this time around, the talented chef is destroying diets at IZU, a cozy little bakery and brasserie located side by side at City Walk. Just think of this new concept as the definitive venue at which to transition from a late and lazy breakfast to a full-on brunch. Calorific favorites such as pain au chocolat, blueberry muffins, almond croissants, and apple Danish pastries are all on offer at the artisanal bakery, as are healthier options like scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. However, it’s the walnutty, caramel-infused ayoosh roll that’s a bit of a cult favorite here, so be sure to order one.
Debating between sweet and savory? You can’t go wrong with the breakfast board, which features both a filling parfait and feta cheese-topped avocado toast with a slightly spicy kick– incidentally the best in Dubai. If your catch-up with friends manages to burn a few calories, stay back and give some of the items from the Mediterranean-centric brasserie a try. IZU does a decadent squid-ink ravioli stuffed with prawns, seabass, and butter sauce – and it’s worth the hype.
City Walk, Al Safa
(+971) 4 403 3031
You know the kind of places where a photo of virtually everything belongs in your Instagram feed? That’s Society Café & Lounge in a nutshell. Delicate sprigs of baby’s breath reside in teal-blue vases, plants hang alongside glass-orb lighting and industrial pipes from the ceiling, Scandi-style furniture adds a touch of minimalism, and natural sunlight floods in from every corner. To say Society stays true to its greenhouse inspiration is an understatement.
The casual new restaurant is housed in a restored two-story villa in Jumeirah, and serves contemporary European cuisine made with organic produce and locally-sourced ingredients. The appetizers at Society are designed to be shared, and one’s better than the next. You’ll be utterly torn between the ‘Halloumi Fries’ (served with pomegranate seeds, molasses, and yogurt drizzle) and ‘Mushroom Croquettes’ (served with truffle aioli, grated pecorino, and pink pepper), so just make your life easier and order both. Of the mains, we’re voting for the ‘King Prawn Linguini’, hands down.
There are four distinct dining areas to choose from (conservatory, café, lounge, and terrace), each with a personality of its own. We particularly love the lounge for a productive afternoon away from the office as it’s complemented by multiple plug points, books, magazines, comfy blankets, notebooks, and an array of stationery items. There’s also plenty of community events in the works at Society (think: morning yoga sessions, workshops, talks, and product launches), so follow its social-media platforms to stay updated.
30 10B Street, Jumeirah 1
(+971) 4 222 2811
Riviera Beach Grill
As soon as you step foot inside Riviera Beach Grill, you’ll instantly be transported to the Mediterranean – not only because of its laid-back ambiance and Grecian interiors (white-washed woods and a color palette of pastel blues dominate), but also the seafood-centric menu and stunning sea views. The tables on the terrace allow you to watch the waves and gaze out to the beautiful pool area, but inside, it’s just as special as the setting has been designed to create beachy vibes that are both relaxed and chic.
A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of JBR, Riviera is a piece of private paradise, and a great spot if you’re after freshly grilled fish and fragrant salads. Start with the ‘Sea Bass Carpaccio’ and spicy ‘Mussels Picantes’ cooked with sundried tomatoes before choosing your preferred catch of the day from the display and dictating how you’d like it cooked. If seafood isn’t quite your thing, the melt-in-your-mouth steaks are superb, and there’s also pasta and pizza aplenty. Just don’t stuff yourself too much because the chocolate mousse here is probably the best we’ve ever had.
Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR
(+971) 52 777 9473
Sarnie lovers, rejoice for there’s a cool new spot that serves up some of the best sandwiches in town. Located in the trendy La Mer complex is SLAB, a homegrown concept and social eatery that serves up fresh salads, fine-crafted sandwiches, and light bites inspired by all corners of the globe. Led by entrepreneur Fadi Al-Said, an investment banker whose passion for food drove him to create his own wholesome dishes, this is the perfect place for anyone who wants their taste buds tantalized.
If you’re expecting two slices of bread filled with the typical tuna-mayo mix or chicken salad, don’t. Here, it’s all about unique and interesting ingredients and flavors. There’s tender duck confit served with roasted butternut squash and a Japanese plum sauce, roast beef served with pickled vegetables and sweet caramelized onions on sourdough bread, and a fragrant chicken flatbread with pine seeds, sumac, parsley, and even edible flowers. Be sure to try the amazing zucchini tempura to start, and finish with a slice of SLAB’s decadent brownie, which is topped with a peanut-caramel sauce – all served on super cool marble plates that mesh perfectly with the very on-trend interiors.
La Mer, Jumeirah 1
(+971) 4 298 8899
Renowned steak joint STK has finally hit Dubai, uniting enthused carnivores in one spot. The restaurant already boasts a massive following worldwide thanks to its presence in cities like London and Las Vegas, and the swanky décor and modern menu of the Dubai outpost have already helped win stomachs across the city. Here, the mood is set thanks to dim lighting, neon signage, and a DJ spinning R&B tracks. Beyond the dance floor and scattered bar tables is the main dining area, where cherry-blossom floral arrangements decorate black-marble surfaces between the winding leather booths – long story short, STK is sexy.
To the surprise of patrons, the food isn’t all chunky slabs of beef. Sure, there’s some of that, but STK offers so much more. In terms of starters, opt for the bite-sized ‘Lil’ Brgs’, a combination of Wagyu-beef patties and special sauce encased in sesame-seed buns. Now for the surprising part: STK does seafood really, really well. The phenomenal ‘Passion Fruit Miso Black Cod’ gets our vote for the best main as the sticky sweetness of the fruit beautifully offsets the fish. As for the steak? Cooked to perfection, generously sized, and beautifully chargrilled. Our suggestion? Go hungry and with a big budget.
Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR
(+971) 4 323 0061
Set amongst the bustling buildings of d3 is contemporary trattoria LARTE, which serves hearty Milanese dishes alongside relaxed vibes and al fresco dining, thereby adding a big dose of cheer to the design district’s evolving dining scene. Inside, the restaurant is Instagram gold, enticing diners to snap photos of its brightly colored seating, striking arrangement of San Pellegrino bottles, and black-tiled bar decorated with authentic Italian ornaments – all of which adhere to the neighborhood’s artsy vibe.
Every single course at LARTE is a palate-pleaser, so prepare to be wowed from the minute your complimentary bread board arrives. Our picks of the menu include the gourmand-friendly ‘Truffled Arancini’, creamy ‘Burrata Pugliese’, and super succulent ‘Yellow-Fin Tuna’. If you’re a vegetarian – or always up for mushroom anything – give the porcini-based ‘Genovese Tortellini’ a try. Desserts are what the Italians do best, so ordering the ‘LARTE Bueno’ is non-negotiable for any chocoholic worth her salt.
Building 10, d3
(+971) 4 240 0441
Il Ristorante – Niko Romito
When the Bulgari Resort Dubai opened its doors in December, the expectations were sky-high and, like the rest of the property, flagship eatery Il Ristorante – Niko Romito delivers. Boasting views of Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa, the elegant restaurant is the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito. Il Ristorante experiments with quintessential Italian flavors and innovative ingredient pairings before serving them in a setting that wouldn’t look out of place in an upscale neighborhood of Milan.
Here, the portions are small, but the flavors are strong. You’ll begin with a selection of intricately plated bread, followed by antipasti ranging from the traditional to the downright unexpected. One menu highlight is the renowned milk-fed “Vercelli” veal (hailing from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy) that is rather creatively served with tuna sauce. Another would be the gnocchi, a small serving of delicious dumplings bursting with mature flavor and finished with three drops of the finest balsamic vinegar you’ll ever taste. Leave room for later and turn a blind eye to the desserts menu – the tiramisu is pure bliss.
Bulgari Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Bay Island
(+971) 4 777 5555