An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar owned by a world famous jockey and iconic firebrand of a chef (no, not that one). If the pitch for the new night down at Frankie’s on JBR sounds like a classic joke then so it should, because it’s one that mixes top laughs and great food – and is a great way to wind down your Saturday before you ready yourself for the big week ahead.
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JBR is currently, of course, enjoying a newfound influx of things to do – not least the arrival of the new Lock, Stock & Barrel and McGettigans onto the scene. But you’d be daft to overlook one of its most established venues, too. Launched in the city in 2007 (and, let’s face it, how many restaurants do you know that have thrived for more than a decade in Dubai’s fickle food scene?), Frankie’s was originally born in London’s Knightsbridge – the brainchild of Italian jockey Frankie Dettori and British chef Marco Pierre White – with the simple philosophy that “good food doesn’t have to be complicated”.
And that philosophy of simplicity extends to their new comedy night. Simply wander in at any point between 8pm and 10pm – it is free entry – and plonk yourself down for drinks and snacks at the bar or a proper table service dinner and away you go; eat and drink to your heart’s content while an array of comedians team up to make you chuckle.
On our visit, there are five acts, all of whom enjoy mixed success on the night (to be fair, none of them are helped by a grade A heckler at the bar, a gobby nightmare who someone eventually decides to put in a taxi, to everyone else’s audible relief). The acts are a mix of Emiratis (the best on the night by far), Americans (some lazy, “That Donald Trump, eh?” gags posing as political commentary), Indians (a little too close to the bone with their racial stereotyping, frankly) and more, but they all have their moments.
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More importantly, any cracks in the performances that need papering over are done so easily with two terrific constants: the compere and the food. The former is Simeon Goodson, a Brooklyn-born pro now living in the UAE who simply nails it over the course of the night, delivering a quality of comedy in between routines that’s way and above what’s within them, and acting as the hilarious glue to the whole shebang. His mini-skits and overall showmanship are absolutely worth checking out on their own, regardless of who else is on the bill.
As for the food, it’s great to remember just how good Frankie’s is. Every time we’ve been it’s been rammed, and as we tuck into a delicious Italian feast – aubergine and cheese to start, followed by a superb sage ravioli and then a steak the size of our head, cooked perfectly pink-red-rare – it’s easy to see why.
Without the comedy, Frankie’s is still a great place. With it, it’s a cracking venue for a date, or just a night of laughs with your pals. Recommended.