Restaurant Review: Wheeler’s of St James, DIFC Gate Village
INFO: DIFC Gate Village; open 12pm to 3pm for lunch, 7pm to 11:30pm, bar open until 2am; 04 386 0899.
Crisp white linens on the tables and shimmering lights flowing across the ceiling sets the scene in this classy eatery. There’s the expectation, given this sophisticated setting, that the dishes exiting the kitchen will be petite and over-styled. But that’s not Marco Pierre White, thankfully. Portions are exceptionally generous and as plates were delivered to the table we kept asking if they were meant to be shared. The answer was consistently (and impressively) no. This is immediately what sets it apart from restaurants of its ilk where fussy meals and heavy price tags are a dime a dozen. We bring you our pick of the menu...
*** Starters, Mains & Desserts ***
The chicken liver parfait (Dhs65) is fantastically light in texture but rich in flavour, and the sweet red onion confit is the perfect offset for that. Scooped onto a bit of simply grilled brioche, it’s delightful. The Irish crab claws (Dhs105) are a treat – they’re light and tasty and the ideal place to start if you want a purely seafood dining experience.
For the main event, there’s no way you can resist a seafood platter (platter for one Dhs450) at Wheeler’s. It arrives piled high over crushed ice and bursting with oysters, mussels, lobster, shrimp and langoustines of the finest quality. It’s a fresh, delicate feast best enjoyed at a leisurely pace with a crisp glass of white. If you like your seafood warm the bouillabaisse (Dhs180) is rich with with giant tiger prawns, a dozen mussels and chunks of beautifully firm white fish all in a flavourful tomato sauce. It’s served to the table in a pot so it keeps warm as you make your way through the meal. Again it’s hard to believe this is intended for just one. The grilled whole plaice with nut brown butter (Dhs280) is also well worth a mention with its buttery, perfectly seasoned crust giving way to delicate, succulent flesh.
For dessert, you can never go wrong with a crumble and Wheeler’s apple, blackberry and oat crumble (Dhs45) is exceptional. Buttery, crunchy topping sits on top of unctuous cooked fruit with the right balance of sweet and tart. It’s served with light vanilla-infused custard and clotted cream. It was a dessert dream!