Frioul – A Taste of the Mediterranean in Madinat Jumeirah


Its been a while, since I have last updated the blog – Hope everyone had a wonderful summer.  A quiet summer from me doesn’t necessarily mean I have been on a diet, and staying home – on the contrary.  To the shock of my cardiologist, my lust for gorgeous dishes has kept me busy.  Old favourites have been revisited (Mahesh Lunch Home – Superstar) and new venues have been explored.  There have been two definite outliers for the summer of 2014.  Two very different restaurants, with cuisines at polar opposite ends of the culinary spectrum.  Frioul is one of them – Dubai’s latest offering to the Gods of French Mediterranean cuisine.  What started out as my friends dragging me there kicking and screaming, led to one of the most delightful dining experiences I have had recently, and my adding Frioul to my top 5 list of restaurants to take my out of town guests to (in addition to frequenting myself).

I am not an easy person to deal with, when it comes to going to certain parts of Dubai.  I have traffic phobia – and one of the side effects of a Dubai’s hockey stick growth curve has been exponential traffic growth on the streets.  Downtown Dubai is avoided – as is the Marina.  I changed my barber of 4 years when going to JBR became mildly challenging.  You get the picture.  So when someone told me that a new restaurant was being planned for the bowels of the old Trilogy complex in Madinat Jumeirah, my first thought was hardly, “Giddyup”.   We were invited to the soft launch opening of the restaurant, but, unfortunately, due to work obligations were unable to go.  I heard mixed reviews – typical for a soft launch.  Needless to say, I wasn’t in a rush to try Frioul out when it opened to the public – parking in Madinat Jumeirah is usually a nightmare – there was no valet parking – and getting a taxi can be a very lengthy process.

This past weekend we were looking for a reservation for a fairly large group on a Friday night – usually not an easy order to fill.  Someone suggested Frioul – I, for the aforementioned reasons, flatly refused to go.  The Boss, in her usual subtle way, threw a glance over at me, and I knew I was in trouble.  So I reluctantly relented.

I am so glad I did.  When you enter Madinat Jumeirah, there is a set of stairs leading down (on your right), near the entrance to the underground car park.  Take those down and you will immediately see Frioul on your left.  The proprietors have done a wonderful job turning this space into a stunning, monochromatic, venue.  Open spaces, lovely white furniture, wonderful use of mirrors, and open kitchen on one side and a sprawling bar on the other.  My first impression – its empty – on second glance, no its not!  While other restaurants tend to cram in tables, Frioul has left ample space between tables, to let guests maintain a sense of privacy – somewhere where you can sit and speak openly with friends without having to worry if the person sitting 8 inches away from you, at the next table, car hear what you are saying.  Oh, and they have a jazz band and a phenomenally talented singer in house!  The proprietors have definitely spent some money on the fit out – and it shows – from the dining room to the washrooms – very elegant.

The staff was impeccable – friendly, courteous, professional and quick.  We were led to our table and seated – very plush comfortable seating.  We had a combination of couches and chairs and both were built to encourage the guest to linger – again, very atypical to a restaurant that this will be and has been compared to in Dubai – who it seems is all about the fastest turnaround possible.  A wide selection was ordered off the menu and we sat back to enjoy the music – its fantastic!  Old school favourites delivered in a flawless, silky voice by a seasoned chanteuse who knows she is good and has the confidence that shows that.

The bread basket comes out – not your usual white or brown – around 5 different choices.  What looked the most interesting was what the waiter called their brioche.  Didn’t look much like other brioches I have had – imagine Cinabon.  The small ones, not the giant ones.  Minus the fruit and raison.  Concentric circles of flakey, soft, crispy delicious delight.  Outstanding.  To compliment the brioche, we were served little plates of Fromage Blanc.



What a pleasant change from the usual various types of butter/tapenade that is served at these kinds of restaurants with the bread.  This was topped with some fresh lemon zest, which elevated an already creamy and tangy topping, which complimented the warm, flaky brioche perfectly.

As I had mentioned earlier – we did pretty much order everything off the menu.  Management was kind enough to send over a few things for us to try as well, on the house – very gracious of them!  We had:

Basil Crostini with Tomato Tartare

Poached Lobster, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad

Scallop Ceviche with Oyster Mayo

Violet Artichokes, Sweet Garden Peas with Lemon and Basil

Seabass, Lemon and Fennel

Roasted Scallop and Shellfish Risotto

Spinach and Taleggio Garlic Bread

Baked Bone Marrow

Cote De Boeuf

Roasted Beets with Fromage Blanc

Salmon, Pan Fried Foie Gras, Carrot and Orange Puree

Sole Goujons, Yoghurt, Capers and Baked Potatoes

Red Prawns, Chilli, Mango and Mint

Steamed Cod with Lemon Grass

Mushroom Fricassee

As a whole, we had ordered entirely too much food, but it was all excellent.  It was delivered quickly, was cooked perfectly, servers were smiling and ensuring no glasses were every empty.  It would have been nearly flawless, if not for the Poached Lobster.  May as well get the comments on that out of the way, before waxing poetic about the rest of the meal.

Poached Lobster, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad



So, where is the lobster, you ask.  Took us, and the waiter, a few minutes to figure this out.  Once we did locate the 2 small medallions of lobster under the mountain of tomatoes and peaches, I found them to be overcooked and tough – very chewy, and plastic, to be honest.  The tomatoes were very fresh and paired with the tart/sweet peaches well.  The salad was lightly dressed, which was just the way it should have been dressed – the intended sweetness of the lobster would have been ideal, had they not been overcooked.   I like the combination of the ingredients, and have recently embarked on a love affair with artisanal tomatoes – so this kind of hit the spot.  Hopefully next time the chef will actually remember he has the lobster in the poaching liquid – and not forget about it until its rubber.

Basil Crostini with Tomato Tartare – Very simple and very tasty.  CRISP Baguette slices topped with a basil pesto and served with a side of diced fresh tomatoes.  Great, clean way to kick off a meal and get the taste buds going.



Scallop Ceviche with Oyster Mayo – A beautiful, simple dish.  Lovely fresh scallop, sliced thin and served with some greens for a crunch.  Sweet, tender, smooth – excellent.



Violet Artichokes, Sweet Garden Peas with Lemon and Basil


Seabass, Lemon and Fennel – Another very fresh offering from the kitchen.  Seabass crudo with lemon and lemon zest – Tastes and smells just like you would expect a Mediterranean summer to.  This is an excellent plate.


Spinach and Taleggio Garlic Bread – Crisp, Garlicky, Cheesy – whats not to love?


Baked Bone Marrow – Unfortunately, by the time I got done taking the picture, it was all gone!  But it looks good, and was served with some crisp toast points on which the marrow could be spread.  Look at the lovely escargot on the plate as well!


Cote De Boeuf – Those who have read this blog before understand my passion for good beef.  I have always maintained that one of the best cuts of beef in town is the Ribeye at LPM.  I stand by that, but mark my words…….there is a new contender in town.  Cote De Bouef is a fancy name for a bone in ribeye.  This is tier 1 quality beef, folks.  Marbled throughout, melt in your mouth deliciousness.   Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the beef was well charred on the outside, and juicy, moist and red in the center – look at the way its glistening below.  Because I am as critical as I am, the only thing I could point out to the kitchen was perhaps they could pay attention to add a little more seasoning to the meat, as it was a little bland….but thats easy enough to rectify when you have such a perfectly cooked, high quality piece of beef – a quick hit of salt and I was on my way.  P.S. My son just looked at this picture, licked his lips and made my promise to take him to the restaurant next weekend!


Roasted Beets with Fromage Blanc – I’m not crazy about beets, but well prepared.


Roasted Scallop and Shellfish Risotto – What a lovely risotto!  The rice was cooked al dente, as I like it.  The scallops, as you can see, were cooked well – there could have been a little better sear on the them, but better to err on the side of caution and stop before they became overcooked and rubbery.  I liked the crunch of the carrot in the rice – I haven’t had this before, but I quite enjoyed it.  I can swear I tasted a bit of saffron in the risotto, which added to its luscious flavour profile.  I will be ordering one of these for myself, next time.


Salmon, Pan Fried Foie Gras, Carrot and Orange Puree – Nicely cooked filets of salmon served on a lovely, orangey carrot puree and topped with wonderfully rich, seared foie gras.


Red Prawns, Chilli, Mango and Mint – Though posted later in this entry, this is a very fresh way to start your meal.  Large, meaty prawns served on a bed of mango salsa.  Didn’t feel much heat from the chill, however – but I didn’t mind.  I liked the sweet backdrop that amplified the natural taste of the Red Prawns.  Very impressive.


Steamed Cod with Lemon Grass –  Lovely, flaky medallions of cod, steamed with Lemon Grass.  I remember it tasting very nice, and the cod being lovely and flaky.  But I wish I had paid more attention to it – the foam and the drizzle of what I am hoping is truffle oil looks very interesting.  I would order this again, for the presentation alone!


Sole Goujons, Yoghurt, Capers and Baked Potatoes – Frioul’s interpretation of fish and chips.  Fried goujons of Sole, crispy on the outside and moist inside, served along with baby baked potatoes and a yoghurt “tartar” sauce.  Very nice.


Looking back, in retrospect, at all the pictures, the menu offered at Frioul does seem to personify the Mediterranean, on a plate.  The dishes were elegant – simple – using the finest of ingredients.  I walked away stuffed, but not in a bad way – The food was light and delicious.  A few small tweaks here and there, are to be expected of a restaurant so early into its life.

When you say French Mediteranean, the obvious comparison always comes up – how does it compare to La Petite Maison in the DIFC.  Tough question – LPM has been around for years – Frioul is brand new.  Ingredients used are top notch in both places.  The Chefs are both very skilled.  I like the fact that Frioul has kept its menu unique – offering a new selection of dishes – other competitors have kept their menu’s very similar to LPM and direct comparisons are inevitable.  I think the valet parking option at Madinat Jumeirah will help traffic into Frioul.  But here is one thing that I think Frioul has going for itself – the vibe was very relaxed, fun.  LPM has become a tough reservation to get – diners are usually kept waiting for extended periods of time, well past their reservation time, while their table is prepared.  Service seems to be hurried, and it does seem that the restaurant feels you, as a patron, should feel privileged to be eating there.   This is a dangerous attitude in the service industry, where the fickle customer is king, and business can be easily lost if the right competitor comes along.  Granted the location for DIFC is a massive plus, I think Frioul could be this competitor.  I really enjoyed the feeling of the restaurant – the space given to diners, the attentive service, the live jazz music, the lack of post-work poseurs preening at the bar with their Tomatinis.  Look – don’t get me wrong.  LPM is consistently excellent – there is a reason why its the bellweather that all new restaurants offering a similar style of dining are judged.  What I am trying to say, that I’m a little done with the pomposity and the sheer effort that goes into a night out there.  I think Frioul offers a very relaxed alternative – and for this, I plan to be a repeat customer.

Frioul – Bravo on a job well done.  You have a restaurant you should be very proud of.  I wish you the all the best in your journey, and look forward to becoming a regular.


Morton’s Steakhouse – Macau


Better late than never – I just haven’t had a spare moment since the start of the year to post some new blog entries, but here goes my first one for 2014!

I think its pretty evident from my past posts that Steak and I have a deep rooted love affair.  One of my favourite places for steak has historically been Morton’s Steakhouse.  I find them consistent to the point of being boring – exactly what i look for, once a restaurant has proven that they can cook something especially well.  Im a purist when it comes to my beef – nothing fancy – no ultra marbled, beer massaged kobe for me.  Im perfectly happy with a moderately aged New York strip steak, cooked medium rare, with a side of something leafy and green, to balance out the fat from the steak.  So, after indulging in countless sessions of roast duck during my trip to Macau, I was ecstatic to find Old Faithful (i.e. Morton’s) sitting just off the gaming floor, in the corner of the gargantuan casino in the Venetian.  I was in Macau for three nights – 2 nights were spent at Morton’s…..eating the exact same thing.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure to visit The Venetian, let me take a moment to describe it to you.  Its massive.  There is a replica of Venice’s Grand Canal running through the first floor of the hotel, which is surrounded by high end retail and a very busy food court.  The Canal offers tourists rides on an authentic Gondola, complete with a singing Gondolier.   The roof is painted to resemble a bright blue sky – all in all, tacky, but you kind of expected that.  The hotel is large – VERY LARGE – its easy to get lost on your first few days – this can be a little tricky, especially with the language barrier (assuming you don’t speak Mandarin).  There are TONS of tourists – literally swarms of them, running around everywhere.  The reason why we stayed here is that it was one of the two hotels that we were able to verify, prior to booking our trip, that offered a Craps table in the casino.  Craps happens to be my game, so the hotel I was staying in had to offer this game.  The only other table in town, I believe, is at the Wynn – I wish I would have stayed at the Wynn – much classier scene – but the hotel seems to be perpetually booked, and I was unable to get a room.  So, the Venetian it was.




The meal started, as per tradition, with the restaurant setting on our table a lovely, fresh baked bread, covered with Onion seeds.  This was served with a much too chilled pat of butter, which was difficult to spread.  The bread was warm and soft from the inside, and crusty from the outside – very nice.

Next came the steak presentation.  Scrumptious hunks of beef, served up on a silver platter, yours for the choosing.  Im a simple man – 14oz NY Strip please.  Medium Rare, if its not too much trouble – cool, red centre.  There it is, in all its glory.  Far right, second from the top.


The bread was demolished as we awaited our meals.  And, then, they arrived.  Beautiful, thick slabs of beef.  Creamy mashed potatoes.  Sautéed mushrooms with spinach.  And, of course, the obligatory, thick cut, duck fat chips, fried to a crisp, golden brown.


Need a describe every divine morsel, with pictures being worth a thousand words, and all?  The steak was perfectly done – nicely caramelised on the outside, with well defined grill marks, and a perfectly cool, red centre.  Seasoning – just salt – which ideally let the natural flavours of the beef be amplified and do all the talking.  Just what you want from any true steakhouse.  The sides were sides – good, but not overwhelming.  The tables were calling, so we polished everything off and went off to seek our fortunes (those fortunes were not found, incase you were wondering.)  So good, we went back the next night and ordered a repeat performance – except this time, we got the onion rings too!

Love Morton’s.  Wish they would come to Dubai.

Don’t Sell the Steak, Sell The Sizzle

Super salesman, Elmer Wheeler was once quoted as saying, “Don’t Sell the Steak, Sell the Sizzle.”  Though he didn’t have an actual steakhouse in mind when he said this (none that I have read of, at least), it seems perfect to associate such pearls of wisdom with Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  The restaurant, which is franchised all over the globe, is known for serving USDA prime steak, seared in specialty ovens which burn at 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the steak has reached the desired temperature, a dollop of butter is put into a plate, which has been heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit – this creates the signature sizzle – before the steak is placed into the plate.  You get a salty, buttery, beefy sauce, ready made in your plate, where you can dip pieces of steak into before eating.


I’ve been a fan of Ruth’s Chris since my days in the US, and when it opened in Dubai, I was pretty excited.  The steak is good – not amazing, because they have a tough time getting an appropriate sear on the beef (I eat my steak medium rare), but good.  What really brings me back, time and time again, are the sides.  As my wife can confirm, I take my sides very seriously.  If the most amazing steak doesn’t have the support from equivalent sides, the meal for me falls short of the mark.  Ruth’s Chris has always had the most perfect sides I have come across in Dubai – sides are something that are sometimes overlooked by regional steakhouses, I feel.  Not the case at Ruth’s Chris.   I usually go the branch in the H Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, but this was my first time at the branch in the Address Hotel in the Dubai Marina.

My wife was back in Karachi, visiting her family, so my son (hereby known as, The Boy) and I decided to head out for a nice meal on Friday evening.  He being 6 years old, informed me that he was hungry……like, right now…..and wanted meat!  H was too far, so I called up the Address, and they had a table for 2 available immediately.  We drove up (it’s actually really close to our home – why do we go to the H Hotel branch repeatedly, then???) and were seated immediately.  The staff was extremely friendly and attentive – very quick to react to requests, to take our order, and to make my son feel very welcome.  The restaurant is beautifully appointed – a lot more fine dining than the H Hotel branch, which is very masculine and steak housey.


We let our waiter know that The Boy was ravenous, and was eyeing the mints at the front desk, so he brought over a basked of three bread rolls – freshly baked and delicious.  The Boy pounded down 1.5 rolls, slathered with butter, before I reminded him that dinner was on its way, and he better save some room for it.  We decided to order my son the early bird special, because it came with shoe string fries, a small Fillet (medium), and a side salad.  I wanted to start with Ruth’s Chopped Salad as an appetiser and then move on the 350g New York Strip as my main course.  The sides, to share, we had Onion Rings and Creamed Spinach.

The Chopped Salad came first.  In Ruth’s world of N’awlins style BBQ Shrimp, Seared Ahi Tune, Carpaccio et al, the chopped salad has been a consistent favourite of mine for a number of years.  Its a tower of julienne iceberg lettuce, spinach and radicchio tossed with sliced red onions and mushrooms, chopped green olives, eggs, hearts of palm, croutons, Bleu Cheese and lemon basil dressing. Served with cherry tomatoes and topped with crispy fried onions (taken directly from their website).  Its refreshing, cool, crisp and the textures between the lettuce leaves, the creamy blue cheese, the crispy onions, and hearts of palm – all muddled together is divine.  The dressing is not over powering, and the individual flavours of the core ingredients are allowed to whistle their own tune, while coming together to form a sweet symphony – yes, I said it – My love affair for Ruth’s Chopped Salad is now revealed to anyone reading this.  My son ate some of this, as he said it looked great – and loved it – his only complaint was that there were not enough fried onions – he tends to obsess on one ingredient!  The pictures below show the tower, before it was broken down and devoured.

Chopped Salad 2

Chopped Salad

Next up were the main courses.   The Boy got his tiny Fillet and side salad along with shoestring potatoes.  Shoestrings were not something I had ordered off the A La Carte menu in the past, so I was unfamiliar with them.  They came out golden brown, warm, crispy and salty, and were very tasty, I must say, but don’t know if I would be ordering them again.  They were just, too crisp, if you know what I mean – like eating chips (read…not fries) with a steak, and I prefer a softer feel for my potatoes when served with a steak – Gratin, Baked, Mashed (or smashed, as The Boy calls them), Fries, Lyonaise – just not super crispy.  For those who do like the super crispy potato thing, these are very, very tasty!

Early Bird Special

My NY Strip arrived, sizzling, as expected, but not seared enough for my taste.  Temperature was perfect, however, and the butter in the plate was salty and delicious.  A good steak, all in all – quality of the meat cannot be criticized – Ruth’s Chris don’t play with the quality.   As you can see from the picture below, the steak has a couple of decent grill lines on it, but no nice crust – and I do love my crust.

NY Strip

On to the sides – the pillars that hold everything up – the very foundations of steakhouse greatness – the cake on which to put the proverbial steak cherry.   AWESOME……as expected.  MASSIVE (1 inch cut) onion rings, super crispy, hot, golden….but not oily in the least.  Great crispy coating that gave way to a sweet snap from a superbly cooked Vidalia Onion.  These are truly fantastic, and I strongly suggest you try them if you get a chance.  I like mine dipped in simple ketchup.  The picture below show the Tower of Onion Rings – the one on the top, connecting the two pillars has been removed, as The Boy took it down before I could take the picture.

Onion Rings

If you read my review on Lexington Grill, you read my rant on the watery creamed spinach.  The benchmark, that I hold all creamed spinach to (in the UAE) is the creamed spinach at Ruth’s Chris.  Its creamy sauce has enough consistency in it to keep a loose form – and not run through your fork. Away from the sauce, you can actually taste the spinach, and feel the texture of its leaves – its not just green mush.  The slight bitter, spinachy flavour contrasts beautifully with the creamy, cheesy sauce that holds everything together.  Two picture below – the first shows the dish, as presented.  The second shows a forkful of the spinach, and shows how the sauce doesn’t run through the fork – consistency is key, and Ruth’s does it right.

Creamed SpinachCreamed Spinach Consistency

The Boy was holding his tummy and making noises about being stuffed by this point – his performance was impressive, to say the least.  We got a creme brûlée to share, to top things off.  It arrived very quickly and was top notch.  Crisp, caramelised crust on top – cool, creamy, silky vanilla custard inside.  I am not one for room temperature creme brûlée – I like the contrast between the cold custard and the warm crust on top.  It wasn’t too large and was a perfect 6 bites of so, that The Boy and I shared – great way to cap out a fantastic boys night out (though we did call Mom to tell her that we missed her).  Till next time – our friend AMA has us booked for dinner on Sunday night with an Italian Chef with TWO Michelin stars under his belt, so looking forward to that experience and writing all about it too!

Creme Brulee

Lexington Grill – Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah

We spent this past weekend at the newly opened Waldorf Astoria resort in Ras Al Khaimah.  For the evening of November 1, we planned to have dinner at the Lexington Grill, the Resort’s steakhouse.  I do love a nice piece of medium rare steak, so my hopes were high when the booking was made.  The resort was fully booked, so we were able to get a table at 9 pm, which gave us plenty of time to get the kids fed and settled in before we headed down.

A quick word on the property – we came with our expectations sky high after spending the Eid holidays at the St. Regis in Saadiyat Island, so the WA had very large shoes to fill.  It first glance, it didn’t disappoint.  The property is massive and looks extremely impressive.  There is nothing that epitomises the elegance and opulence of Manhattan’s moneyed set like the lobby of the Waldorf in New York, which is anchored by its much revered Waldorf Clock.  The lobby of the RAK edition is also splendid in its own way, although the style has a natural bias towards the Middle East, with vast open spaces, lots of light coloured marble, and the furnishings in muted tones (a stark contrast to Manhattans woods and dark patterned carpets).  RAK too, has its own Clock.

Waldorf RAK Lobby

Waldorf RAK Lobby

Waldorf Manhattan Lobby

Waldorf Manhattan Lobby

Let me just say that when the hotel is lit up at night – only one word can describe the way it looks.  Majestic.


Back to the food…….we arrived to our 9 pm reservation and were promptly seated at an outdoor table, which was lovely with the breeze that was coming off the sea.   After getting absolutely dismal service through the day at and around the pool, I was very pleasantly surprised by the attentiveness shown by the restaurant staff.  Pretty standard steakhouse menu – appetisers had the obligatory crab cakes, tartare, seafood platter etc.  The steak menu offered a choice of three different kinds of steak – US Prime Black Angus, 28 day aged Black Angus and Grade 7 Australian Wagyu.

Before we get to the appetisers, I have to make special mention of the bread.  We were each served a loaf of freshly baked break, which was crusty, and soft and absolutely delicious.  This was served with whipped butter and a smoked salt – the smoked salt was the icing on the cake – the smokiness was a perfect touch.


We got a selection of appetisers – Alaskan Crab Cake, Burrata with Tomato, and a Chilled Seafood Platter.

Chilled Seafood Platter

Chilled Seafood Platter

The Seafood Platter was a little….underwhelming.  Used to the substantial seafood towers that are served in North American steakhouses (the above was supposed to be a service for 2!!), I was a little disappointed when i saw the above served to me.  Two pieces of everything – oysters, mussels, shrimp, scallops and crab legs  – plus half a lobster.  Seafood is tricky to work with – when preparing it, my own belief is that less is more – let the natural flavours speak for themselves, especially when you are working with fresh, quality ingredients.  Everything in this platter was overcooked – the crab was stringy, what was a large, juicy scallop had been cooked and had lost its sweet, natural flavour and the shrimp and clam tasted like the fame off a buffet line.  The lobster – blah.  I went looking for the variety of sauces that were promised, but all that I had was a thousand island style sauce, which wasn’t great.

Burrata & Tomato

Burrata & Tomato

Alaskan Crab Cake

Alaskan Crab Cake

I didn’t eat the crab cake or the Burrata, but my friends who did (see blow) seemed to like the both.

The Crew

The Crew

On to the mains – I ordered the Wagyu Ribeye cooked medium rare.  The boys had the same, and the ladies each had the Angus Fillet – two butterflied and one cooked straight up.  Sauces were had – I had the red wine bordelaise sauce (fantastic!!!), and others had the peppercorn sauce, the stilton sauce, and a couple of Bernaise sauces for the fillets.

Butterflied Filet with Stilton Blue Cheese Sauce

Butterflied Filet with Stilton Blue Cheese Sauce

Filet with Bernaise Sauce

Filet with Bernaise Sauce

Wagye Ribeye

Wagyu Ribeye

My ribeye was great – the beef was good, it was cooked perfectly, the Bordelaise sauce was excellently executed.  For those who don’t know bordelaise, google some recipes and try it the next time you grill up your own steaks.   Can’t really say much more about the steak.

So, appetisers, check.  Mains, check.  What ties the entire steakhouse experience together for me?  The sides.  My wife will tell you I agonise over the sides, every time we grill at our home, and they are very, very dear to my heart.  We got 7 different sides to share – my only real criticism was that the sizes were very small – these are not meant for sharing:

Fries – Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and made from a sweetish potato.  Very clearly hand cut.  The best way we described them on the table was the kind you get a road side stand in Pakistan – which is great if you were us, and grew up eating (and loving) those fries, but I can see other guests not thinking they were less than restaurant quality, – not everyone shared the same nostalgic feelings that our table felt when eating them.

Truffle Mash – Delicious.  The flavour and scent of truffles permeated each creamy, sublime bite.

Truffle Mashed Potatoes

Truffle Mashed Potatoes

Creamed Spinach – Not my cup of tea, though some liked it.  I like the consistency of my creamed spinach to be a little more firm and less soupy.  I like to taste some sharp cheese (maybe a blue cheese of some kind) and I like to taste the cream.  The one we got at the Lexington Grill was watery, and kinda tasteless.  Not what I want to waste my calories on, really.   You can see the spinach swimming around in its yellowy soup below.

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach

Onion Rings – Excellent.  Large sweet onion rings, covered with a very crispy bread crumb (I think it was Panko – the were devoured very quickly).  Light, crisp and fantastic!

Mac and Cheese – Overcooked macaroni and not cheesy enough – we make better mac and cheese at home for my son.  Both the onion Rings and mac and cheese are shown below.

Onion Rings

Onion Rings

Potato Gratin – Very nice.  The potatoes were tender, but not mushy.  The gratin was cheesy and perfect.  It was finished with a golden brown crust in the oven.  One of the better sides at Lexington Grill.

Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin

The evening was ended with a surprise birthday cake, courtesy of the hotel.  Chocolate Mousse cake, and it was fantastic.  Paired with some double espressos, it was a great way to end the evening.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

All in all, a fairly positive experience at Lexington Grill.  Great service and pretty good food – the main courses were flawless, which takes you almost 75% there, in itself.  A few minor tweaks to the apps and the sides will take this restaurant to the 95% mark, which is impressive.  Stunning resort, and I am sure that our next visit will include a trip to the Lexington Grill.

An End of Summer Pool Party and BBQ

To celebrate Eid and to welcome in the cooler evenings of Dubai’s Fall, we had some friends around for a little pool/bbq fun this week.  MEA and BA brought over a fantastic Nutella pie from Saladicious in Jumeirah and MNA and AA brought over a delicious chocolate cake.  So glad that MKM and KM were able to swing by, post their family dinner for a drink and some Mint Shisha.

Dinner was planned to be casual, but I woke up that morning, adamant to get my hands on some ribs – not just any short ribs, but Gangam style ribs (erm..Korean style).  In Toronto, I remember my neighbourhood Brunos ( having this spectacular, pre marinated, miami style beef rib (the rib was butchered in the typical Korean manner – what is called Kalbi or Galbi).  This marinade resulted in a piece of meat that was sweet, sticky and usually resulted in my licking my fingers clean.

The way that Kalbi style ribs are butchered is different to the usual, long beef rib that one tends to picture, when thinking of a typical bbq’d beef rib.

Time for a little beef rib 101:

The usual beef rib that comes to mind is usually the texas style beef rib – available in Dubai at places like Tony Roma’s etc.  These rack of ribs are left in their glorious entirety, and provide a robust, beefy (albeit, sometimes stringy if not cooked properly) chew.  A picture of these kinds of ribs is below:

Kalbi is prepared by the butcher in a different way.  How does this differ, you ask?  This is my favourite way to eat beef ribs, FYI.  Once the beef is broken down into its usual parts, and the rib rack is separated, to get Korean style ribs, the butcher cuts thin slices, horizontally, across the rib bone.  What results is thin slices of gold – perfectly balanced strips that have both beef and fat, intermingled together – melt in your mouth tenderness.  A picture of a raw Kalbi style beef rib is below (the picture below show a de-boned version of Kalbi).


This was available to my family and I at Korean BBQ restaurants – I was unable to find, after moving to Dubai, a butcher from whom to source this beef.  I had done a tremendous amount of research on the internet, and finally, when I woke up the day of the BBQ, I thought I had located a supermarket that catered to the South East Asian community in Dubai – and, allegedly, they carried various meats also!  I made my way over to A-1 Supermarket, near Safa Park, and WOW…..I cannot believe that this place has been here for the past few years, under my nose, and I didn’t know it existed.  If you haven’t been – and you like asian ingredients – you need to go….now.  They have a frozen and fresh meat section – fancy a Shabu Shabu?  No problem – A1 has the thinly shaved ribeye for that Shabu Shabu.  Bulgogi?  No sweat – 3 different kinds of Bulgogi beef.  Ribs – boneless and with bones. Pre marinated.  No marinade.  Bottled marinade.


I bought a pile of fresh ribs with bone, (didn’t want the pre marinated stuff, because I do like to tweak (read: not twerk), and had a couple of delicious recipes that I had downloaded and wanted to try) and made my way home.  I couldn’t help but call B, who didn’t understand my excitement (she is not a rib person, and prefers what little beef she does eat to be ultra lean) – she did however instruct me to pick her up some wasabi peas and some seaweed snacks (Miso flavoured and Wasabi Flavoured) that she loves to nibble on.

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So, I made my way home, and started to prep for the evening.  The menu:

Grilled Whole Seabass Provencal, Drizzled with Warm EVOO Infused with Fresh Basil

Charcoal Grilled Sirloin Steak

Grilled Kalbi Ribs

Parmesan Truffle Fries

Garden Salad

Overall, everything turned out great – the friends loved the ribs – they came out beautifully.  I think I will add some Sriracha style Thai hot sauce to the marinade next time, to add some spice to balance the sweetness/saltiness.  The sea bass was tender and delicate and the EVOO drizzled on top made it even better – the charred, crispy skin, was a great contrast to the inside. The steak’s were cooked to medium well, as that is what many wanted to eat – a far cry from my and BA’s preference of medium rare!  The truffle fries, if you haven’t tried them – you should.  Delicious…..and the smell…….wow.   Make some fries, once done, drizzle a little truffle infused olive oil on top, and some truffle salt.  Shake and add some shredded parmesan cheese.  RIDICULOUS.

Some pictures are below – thanks to all who came.  Was a great evening!


Garden Salad


Truffle Parmesan Fries


Sirloin Steak




Kalbi Ribs

In Search for the Perfect Tomahawk

Anyone who knows me knows that I do love my steak – perfectly seared crust with a cool red centre! Not too much spice, or rub, please – I like to taste the quality of my meat.  That being said, I do enjoy a nice piece of bavette that has been marinated in a home made Korean style marinade using soy, ginger, sugar……but thats a story for another day.

When I first moved to Dubai, I found it very difficult to source well butchered, aged beef – the kind I was used to shopping for and cooking in North America.  Over the past few years, there have been new entrants on the gourmet grocery front that have made this easier.  I used to buy my steaks from The Butcher Shop in the Mall of the Emirates, initially. I continue to believe that dollar for dollar, The Butcher Shop is one of the best steak meals in town, and they provide a very good steak for those who want to fire up the ol’ grill at home as well – Ribeye, Sirloin, Porterhouse, Rump – these are all available, and can be cut to order if the pre-cut pieces are not large enough, thick enough!  Their BBQ basting sauce is also exceptionally good, to baste on the meat for those who are looking for a little zing.

Then came Prime Gourmet Meats on Sh. Zayed Road – the first real westernised butter shop that I was able to find in Dubai.  They had various cuts of beef (wagye, free range, grain fed), lamb, veal etc.  They were also making fresh sausage in house, which was nice.

Finally, there was  I love this website – the guys who run it are foodies, and they aim to provide the kind of ingredients that were tough to find in Dubai.  Anyone up for a 3.5 kg Canadian Beef Brisket?  How about some fresh truffles?  Some Onglet?  You can make a large order of been with them, and they will vacuum pack the steaks individually, so they can be frozen and used when you would like – great, quick service.  Highly recommend it.  They provided me with an amazing, 150 day aged, 1.5 kg Tomahawk steak – essentially a bone in rib steak, with the bone left long, to essentially resemble….well….a Tomahawk!  Because of the vacuum packing, they cut the bone short, but did provide the cut off piece vacuum packed, as well!


No need for any marinade on this one – a little olive oil, and some coarse sea salt (im not a huge pepper fan).  Sear it off on a very hot grill and done to a perfect medium rare.  If you want a higher internal temperature (medium well/well done), I would recommend some time on indirect heat, or finishing it off in the oven, as not to burn the exterior on the grill – its a thick cut of meat and does take some time to cook through.  Once cooked, LET IT REST.  I cannot stress this enough – not enough people let any of the meat they cook on a grill rest before serving it and slicing it.  When a protein is cooking, the juices inside are running through it – when its done, you HAVE to let is sit, under a dome of foil, and let the juices get settled in to the fibres – re distribute themselves.  THEN, when you slice you, you get a wonderful, juicy piece of meat – if you cut it too soon, all the juices run out and the end product is less juicy and more tough.

Because the Tomahawk is 1.5kg, uncooked, I usually serve it off the bone, sliced, so it is easier to share – my wife only eats tenderloin, so its my son and I who go to town on something like this.  When slicing any steak to serve, try to slice it on a bias, against the grain (if the fibres of the meat are going north/south, for example, cut east/west – AGAINST the grain).

Here is it – the finished product:


A lovely medium rare – charred on the outside, and perfectly red on the inside.


Away from the home, I’m a big fan of the Centre Cut Steakhouse at the Ritz Carlton DIFC.  It’s never too busy, great service, and consistently good food.  They have a 1.2 KG tomahawk on offer there, which I have been known to step up and devour solo, on occasion.  I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great steak in Dubai – please try the Red Wine Sauce, as its an amazing accompaniment to to the steak.  Some before/after pics below: