For our first blogging experience we decided to eat like kings. In Dubai this means going to the Pyramids at Wafi and eating at Fire & Ice in the Raffles Hotel.
Fire & Ice is a steakhouse with the requisite dark wood floors and exposed brick walls, sporting an impressive open kitchen. The place has great ambience, beautiful décor, interesting spaces, and large tables, although the “preprogrammed lighting” made some of the tables too bright. The Nancy Sinatra song that was playing in the background when we walked in was a nice touch.
We were initially seated in front of the open kitchen – which is a great location if you’re with a group – but we asked for a table further away as we didn’t want to go to our next event smelling like food.
The menu has many of the staples you would expect of a steakhouse but with some creative variations. For starters, we chose the Fire & Ice Shrimp Cocktail and the Heirloom Tomato Salad. The shrimp was served two ways; 1 – a large grilled prawn, perfectly grilled and seasoned; 2 – a “shrimp salad” that was a disappointment compared to its grilled sister shrimp as it was drenched in something reminiscent of McDonald’s secret sauce.
The heirloom tomato salad was very creatively presented three different ways, unfortunately it was generally over-salted and the fried mozzarella tasted like the oil it was cooked in. One of the unfortunate things about living in Dubai is the absence of real tomatoes and the restaurants are as hard pressed as the rest of us to source fresh and flavourful tomatoes. (If anyone out there has a source please share).
The warm breads served with roasted garlic were fantastic – one of the highlights of the meal.
For our mains, we chose an American Tenderloin and the Australian Angus Surf & Turf. The American tenderloin was superb; perfectly medium and melt-in-your-mouth good; and the grainy mustard sauce complimented the meat well. The prawn in the Surf & Turf was the same, exceptionally well executed one as in our starter, so the chef definitely knows how to grill. The steak was also good but could have used a little more seasoning.
The side of potatoes crushed with black truffle had great flavour, but could have been cooked another minute. The sautéed spinach with sesame seeds was also very tasty, but the Asian flavor was incongruous with the otherwise Mediterranean and American dishes. The green beans with toasted almonds were disappointingly flavourless.
The deserts all come in three’s and so you simply order any 3 items from the desert menu as a trio. We had a stunning baked cheese cake (the kind that sticks to the roof of your mouth) and a tasty North American-style fudge brownie that was world-class. The 3rd element, the lemon tart, was a little eggy and remained on the plate while we polished off the other two.
The wine list was not very long, but had a number of reasonably priced options by Dubai standards (which actually means ridiculously expensive by the standards in most cities around the world). The servers informed us that there was no digestive list when we asked, but the waitress showed impressive recall as she tried to itemize their bar selection for us. It appears you have to belly up to the bar to figure out what to have as an after dinner drink. Espresso was quite nice.
The service was polite, and the staff made real efforts to please, however they were typically robotic, lacking the character and interaction necessary to add any value to our dining experience. A request to change tables to a spot with better ambiance and lighting was handled politely and efficiently. Unfortunately, our mains were served within minutes after they whisked away our appetizers, so remember to let them know how long you want to break between courses.
Sadly, just as we tucked into our digestives, the sous chef began cooking his own dinner in the open kitchen, which filled the restaurant with the smell of frying garlic and made us want to rush out.
I would return for the tenderloin if nothing else; it was truly perfection.
After we made the reservation I went to the website to check the dress code which was listed as “Smart Elegant”. Being unsure as to whether I needed to dust-off the tuxedo or not, I called the restaurant and found that in fact the dress code is smart casual, so I opted for jeans and a button down. Roula on the other hand was as fabulous as Cleopatra is an orange Herve Leger dress and matching YSL shoes. I would go back again for a business dinner, but likely not for a romantic occasion.
Shrimp Cocktail: 70 dhs
Tomato Salad: 40 dhs
Surf & Turf: 240 dhs
Tenderloin: 220 dhs
Sides: 20 dhs/each
Desert Trio: 60 dhs