Insider Diner

Restaurant guru Samantha Wood of serves up the latest on the UAE's dining scene
BySamantha WoodTuesday , 09 February 2016
Insider Diner
From healthy offerings to decadent experiences and global celebrations, here's what you need to check out this month!
A Genuine Piece of Paris in Dubai
I happen upon a new Dubai restaurant on Instagram with many raving about its French authenticity. For once a restaurant opens here so quietly, without any of the usual PR onslaught and hype. These kind of low-key restaurants are the ones I like reviewing, but they are as rare as discovering a pearl in an oyster. A locally developed concept, Bistro des Arts, transports you back in time to a quintessential Parisian bistro. Even though the restaurant sits on Dubai Marina Mall’s promenade, because it is linked to the Address hotel above, it is licensed. The menu, which spans breakfast, lunch and dinner, is hugely traditional focusing on rustic, ‘home-cooked’ French dishes, with a few daily specials. The steak tartare with frites is a must-order. INFO: Dubai Marina Mall (use the Waitrose exit to the marina promenade and veer right), 7.30am-11pm daily, 04 551 1576,
Oysters and More
Lately we are having to walk through car parks to reach restaurants in Dubai. The Maine Oyster Bar and Grill is an independently operated restaurant at the Doubletree JBR. The obscure and low-key entrance is a welcome change from glitzy, revolving hotel doors and what’s even more inviting, is the lively and busy brasserie that greets us on arrival – bordering on a gastro-pub. It’s the kind of place where you can tell everyone’s having a really good time. Plenty of brick, leather and brass abound, along with oyster shell chandeliers that all together make for a warm and unpretentious vibe. A terrace overlooks the hotel’s pool and the Dubai Eye construction, but sadly the atmosphere and the excellent play list is left inside. Freshly shucked oysters aside, you must try the roasted fillet of halibut on a bed of smashed potatoes, beef bacon and green peas with generous lashings of béarnaise sauce and a few sprigs of dill. INFO: DoubleTree by Hilton JBR (entrance through the car park), Dubai, 12noon-midnight daily and from 10am on weekends, 04 457 6719,
Another French-Med Restaurant Docks in Dubai
A new French-Mediterranean import Bistrot Bagatelle has opened at the Fairmont Dubai, adding to outposts in New York, LA, Miami, Sao Paolo, St Barth and St Tropez. Sitting next to Catch, the welcoming décor is very much a cross between La Serre and La Petite Maison, its two core competitors. Gorgeous Art Deco inspired dining room with open-plan kitchen aside, Bagatelle also boasts two bars and lounges. The menu has plenty of choice succinctly presented into cold and hot starters; sharing dishes with a ridiculously high price range; seafood, meat and vegetarian main courses; and side dishes. If there’s one dish you must eat, it’s the foie gras and potato bun sliders. INFO: Fairmont Sheikh Zayed, Dubai, mezzanine level, 8pm onwards daily, 04 354 5035,


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