Between all the recent travelling and minor illnesses, it’s been a few weeks since our last review. Samer’s brother and family were in town and the weather was a pleasant 25-30 degrees (Celsius) so we felt that an outdoor dinner would be just the thing. With only a few weeks left before the humidity strikes, outdoor seating is hard to come by in Dubai and some restaurants are taking reservations a week or more in advance.
One of our go-to spots is the Beach Bar & Grill at the One & Only Royal Mirage. It’s in a great location directly on the beach and serves excellent grilled fish. We were fortunate to get the last reservation for our table of four.
Despite all the new hotel openings in recent years, the Royal Mirage remains one of the most beautiful properties in Dubai with huge green lawns dotted with large palm trees. The Beach restaurant is a stand-alone building directly in front of a large sandy beach with an expansive patio overlooking the yachts cruising along the Arabian Gulf. At night, the patio is dimly lit to create an intimate atmosphere for restaurant goers.
The menu is predominantly fish and seafood with a smattering of grilled meat options for the carnivorous diet. They offer a broad range of appetizers and we sampled a few of them: The poached baby lobster with green apple, avocado, snow pea salad and sumac crème fraiche was tasty but slightly tart; the Foie Gras with toasted brioche and a sweet red onion chutney was absolutely delicious; the Grilled Calamari served with mesclun was perfectly grilled to a succulent tenderness and left us wishing for more; the Grilled Scallops atop an artichoke salad and sauce vierge (French sauce made with olive oil, lemon juice, tomato and basil) was similarly good though the artichokes were served at fridge temperature and made an unnecessary addition to the dish. By and large our starters were a hit with the table and we were all looking forward to the mains.
Unfortunately, things started to go awry here. To start our mains arrived without the sides we ordered and even though we complained a few times to get the kitchen to hurry them up, by the time they appeared we were done eating. The Surf & Turf was disappointing both in flavor and texture. The “Surf” was a tiny half lobster that was chewy from being overcooked while the “Turf”, which was ordered medium, was actually verging on blue. The dish also came with a piece of grilled white fish which completely lacked flavor to the point of being inedible. The Mixed Grill Platter was a combination of hammour, shrimp, chicken, lamb chop, beef fillet. The lamb was under-spiced and tasted fatty, the beef was overcooked (ironic given the other piece was undercooked and they were both requested medium). The quality and flavor of the chicken was unpleasant. We did receive a ground lamb kebab that wasn’t listed but was tasty. The fish also had the same problem as the one from the Surf & Turf dish.
On a positive note, both the Grilled Hammour served with Barley, Celery Salad and Chermoula dressing and the Seabass Fillet served with lentils, asparagus, tomato concassé, atop a lemon and chive dressing dishes were very good – we often order these items and have never had a bad experience. Also, the presentation of the dishes was beautiful.
However, given the inconsistency of the food we were served on this visit it would appear that the kitchen was having an off night. It’s either that or they decided to promote the dishwasher to run the show as its inexplicable how a head chef would allow some of these items to leave their kitchen. Overall, we were left with a feeling of disappointment because we know how good the food can be at the Beach.
The service is the real shame at the Beach however we’ve always overlooked it because we’ve enjoyed the food and location so much. While our mains were inconsistent and unimpressive on this visit, the food is usually excellent. The service on the other hand is always poor, slow and confused. And to make matters worse the staff are all very nice and seem to genuinely want to deliver a pleasant experience – they just don’t know how.
Lobster Salad – 168
Grilled Calamari – 78
Foie Gras – 115
Surf & Turf – 198
Grilled Hammour – 105
Seabass Fillet – 110
Mixed Grill Platter – 205