Location: Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai
Tel: 04 364 7555
Dress code: Strictly formal – men are required wear a dinner jacket
Times: 12.30pm to 3.30pm and 7pm to 11.30pm
Price Range: $$$$$
Rising from the Arabian Gulf on an island 280 metres from the shore, the Burj al Arab is a beacon for tourists and a ‘special occasions’ treat for residents. Its design is based on the sail of an Arabian dhow and it’s the world’s tallest suites-only hotel, but when visiting Al Mahara (‘the oyster’) there’s a deliberate sense of descending underwater. On arrival guests must travel up an escalator to go back down to the same level in a private elevator that delivers diners into the blue lagoon-like depths of the restaurant.
Once inside, the aquarium is an endless source of entertainment as the daily aquatic soap opera unfolds before your eyes. The huge Humphead Wrasse (we named him Bob) may just float over to your table and eye up your dinner, while 4ft sharks whiz past at speed.
Watch our video of Al Mahara's Humphead Wrasse
Imagine being at The Dubai Mall tank, with a table for two, a direct view, world-class waiter service, elegant food and no tourists and this is a night at Al Mahara. There are around 600 fish in the tank to gawp at, but don’t miss the wonderful views of picturesque dishes on tables.
First we were welcomed with a trio of butters – one salted, one featuring candied fruits and one with a citrus twist – and a selection irresistible bread rolls, including tomato-infused buns and classic French croissants. A cottage cheese dip and a herby green labneh joined the spread, and then an out-of-this-world amuse bouche of boiled beef brisket rolled in pasta arrived. All this, and we hadn’t even ordered yet.
Our feast went on to include Tsarskaya oysters in apple cider cream with caviar and parsley foam – a winning combination; an elegant preparation of scallops with black truffle potato sandwich –gorgeous; a fat pocket of pan-fried ravioli stuffed with surf and turf in the luxurious form of foie gras and Alaskan King crab; and an interactive dessert – after cracking the green chocolate dome, a pina colada mocktail was released over the sponge cake and mango coulis hidden inside. It was almost as entertaining as the Wrasse-watching!
On the Menu
Poached Tsarskaya oyster, Dhs375
Seared hand-dived sea scallops, Dhs350
Alaskan King crab and foie gras ravioli, Dhs280
Poached Bourgeois fish in kombava-flavoured milk, Dhs350
Baba Exotic, a pina colada mocktail and fruit sponge cake in edible casing, Dhs150
Caramelised hazelnut dacquoise, Dhs170