Restaurant Review: Marina Social
When we arrive early on a Saturday evening, the restaurant is already relatively full and as we are ushered to a table next to the floor to ceiling windows offering us a spectacular view of the twinkling lights of Dubai Marina, we overhear a lady announcing to her table that this in the new ‘in’ place to eat in Dubai. We’re not ones to be taken in by the hype but despite our extremely high and in some cases overly-critical standards, we have to admit that so far, the breathtaking spectacle that will be the backdrop for our meal is certainly an amazing one and we sincerely hope that the food follows suit. Although we’re told that there will be no music during our visit due to the mourning period, the atmosphere remains elevated and we’re surprised that it doesn’t affect the ambience at all.
Although the venue boasts an understated chic decked out with simplistic wooden settings, dimmed lights and crisp napkins that immediately make you feel at home, its classic elegance is juxtaposed by a massive open kitchen of bustling chefs energetically executing each dish with meticulous precision with enviable flair.
Given that the sharing concept remains prevalent and on-trend, it’s hardly surprising that Marina Social should follow suit given its achingly cool demeanour. However, what we are not expecting is tea and toast. English breakfast tea and toast? As signature a dish as it may be, we have to admit that this does not excite us in the least. However when the teapot arrives filled with a creamy mushroom soup topped with parmesan foam and accompanied with gentleman relish, we have to admit that this <Alice in Wonderland> type whimsical starter was certainly a pleasure for the palate that we would have been happy to eat all night and set the precedent for the exciting culinary journey ahead of us.
Following a beautifully seasoned plate of stuffed Italian beef tomatoes with burrata and 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar, we move on to mains of Victoria lamb loin with a herb crust and whole smoked Boston lobster, served in a wooden box that releases a charred aroma when its opened to reveal succulent barbecued seafood that’s just begging to be devoured in its entirety, with accompanying generous forkfuls of warm potato salad.
Suitably full by this point we toy over whether we should skip dessert, however, the allure of sweetcorn flavoured ice cream with a crunchy popcorn topping aka ‘Mr Whippy’ proves to be too tempting to resist, so we decide to share. It is the perfect blend of textures and sweetness to end the meal on a high note.
Although Dubai has seen quite a few British-Mediterranean sharing concepts pop up in recent years, Marina Social appears to set the bar a little higher and we’d have to agree with the lady we overheard in the beginning, who clearly has great taste! Don’t think of this the new kid on the block, but the more seasoned professional who’s here to show you how it’s done.
3 Must-try dishes
English breakfast tea and toast for two, Dhs50
Beef tomatoes, burrata, 25-year aged balsamic with tomato salt, Dhs85
Half smoked Boston lobster with butter sauce and smoked lemon, Dhs125
MARINA SOCIAL’S SMOKED LOBSTER WITH LEMON BUTTER SAUCE AND CHERVIL
1 thyme sprig
Heavy duty pan
Wire cooling rack
200g to 300g smoking chips
FOR THE LEMON BUTTER SAUCE
250ml white wine or fish stock
50ml lemon juice
½ tsp white peppercorns
125g unsalted butter
50ml double cream
A large pinch of chervil
1 Roughly dice all the vegetables and place in a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil.
2 Blanch the lobster by placing in the pan for 3 minutes, then remove and plunge straight into ice water until cold.
3 Once cold, remove the claws and leg from the body for presentation.
4 Cut the lobster in half straight through the middle.
5 Remove all the meat from the shell, and clean the shell for presentation.
6 Place the heavy duty pan on the stove with the smoking chips over a medium heat until the wood chips start to burn and release a lot of smoke. Place the lobster shell on a wire cooling rack over the smoke. Wrap well with aluminium foil and leave in a warm place to infuse for 1 hour.
7 Meanwhile make the sauce. Reduce the white wine or fish stock, lemon juice, shallots and peppercorns by two thirds.
8 Add 40ml of cream to the reduction and bring to the boil slowly.
9 Slowly whisk in the diced butter, whisking consistently until the butter has emulsified. Taste and season with more lemon juice or salt if required.
10 Slice the lobster tail and claw into 3 to 4cm pieces, and place back into the smoked lobster shell.
11 Place the filled lobster shell in shallow pan with 100ml water in the base of pan. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and heat over a medium heat until the foil starts to puff up. Remove from the heat and finish the lobster with warm lemon butter sauce and a sprinkling of chervil.