Dinner Review: Marina Social, Intercontinental
There are a whole host of dishes at Marina Social – the Dubai outpost of legendary chef Jason Atherton’s ‘Social’ restaurant brand – that are so good they will forever be burned into our brains and imprinted on our taste buds. It’s almost Pavlovian (as in the dogs, not the pudding) how their mere mention can make our mouth water and hand pick up the phone, to make a repeat reservation.
And, we’re both surprised and delighted to see that at least three of them have made Marina Social’s Early Supper Menu. Yes, this new deal at the restaurant may be unbelievably keenly priced – come before 8pm and get two courses for Dhs150 or three for Dhs195 – but this is no Harvesters-pub-back-in-the-rainy-UK kind of early bird deal, this is serious food for seriously good amounts of cash.
Those favourite dishes of ours that have made the cut on this new menu are actually all on the starters. There’s the deceptively simple- sounding salad of snow peas, which comes with feta, mint and radish and is simply the freshest, tastiest green salad you’ll find in this city. We pair that (there are two of us dining) with our partner’s choice of the confit duck and foie gras terrine, which comes with crystalised almonds and yellow peach chutney, and it’s the perfect partnership of deep rich decadence and light zesty acid, one dish slicing through the other with a crunchy punch.
And then there’s Atherton’s beef tartare, which is still in our humble opinion the finest in Dubai. Assembled by the waiter at our table, it starts out beautifully deconstructed, all the individual ingredients fanning out from a central circle of gorgeous, hand- chopped rare beef, before he deftly mixes in horseradish cream, egg yolk jam, and tru le and balsamic dressing. The resulting taste explosion would be enough to convert even the most ardent vegetarian.
Thankfully, on top of our very long list of go-to dishes at Marina Social, this new Early Supper Menu invites us to go o piste come the mains. And our choices make us very glad that we did. The steamed seabass comes with coco beans, lovage (whatever that is) and samphire and is at once wonderfully delicate and packed with deep zings of lemongrass. The BBQ veal short rib, meanwhile, comes paired with charred sweetcorn (yum) and an immaculately ace Yorkshire pud.
We heartily recommend both, as well, of course, as our standard sourdough pizza with mozzeralla, basil, aged balsamic vinegar and salted ricotta, that’s also on the menu and good enough to give any Italian sleepless nights for its perfect combination of texture and taste. Forget how mama used to make it, folks, and try how Jason Atherton makes it. The old dear may well find herself kicked into the long grass.
Marina Social celebrated its second birthday last month, and it’s reached the milestone with a ton of awards under its belt and legion fans (us included) in the city. It’s great to see that it hasn’t let any of it go to its head, either. Here is a place with sparkly Marina views but a dedication to food that’s as much about the substance as the style.
INFO: Open daily 7pm- midnight, Fridays 12pm- 2am (brunch served 1pm-4pm), 04 446 6664, firstname.lastname@example.org