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40 Restaurants Love In The UAE
Here at What’s On, we believe we have the best jobs in the UAE. We get to dine at some of the coolest places in the country – and we get paid for it. Needless to say, we’ve discovered a few favourites along the way. To mark our 40th birthday, here are 40 restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that have found a special place in our hearts – and bellies. See if you agree...

01 Ruya

A shrug of the shoulders. That’s what you would have seen if you’d have asked me what Anatolian food was three years ago. Legendary chef Colin Clague fixed all that when he opened Ruya at the Grosvenor Hotel. It’s predominantly Turkish cuisine where highlights include the glorious cheese pide served with a runny egg, the beef steak lathered in a Turkish coffee rub, and the moreish simit-coated baby squid. In fact, that’s the beginning of my order right there…


02 21 Grams

With Serbian native Stasha Toncev at the helm, there’s no need to question the authenticity of this brilliant Balkan café near Umm Suqeim park. Stop by for the komplet eggs – a free-range egg in homemade flatbread with cheese and beef jus, or dig into a selection of dips like the white bean hummus, red pepper relish or baked feta cheese. If you can tear your eyes away from your immaculate meal, look around, and appreciate the stunning interior design.


03 The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill

Spearheaded by top restaurateur Joey Ghazal and outfitted with a large shucking counter, it’s hardly a stretch to assume that this brasserie would focus on fresh seafood. While the menu isn’t without whole lobsters, seafood towers, and fresh oysters, there’s so much more to it than that. Surprising highlights including the brussels sprouts side dish, a stellar mushroom and truffle pizza, and the 48-hour short rib.



One of Dubai’s best restaurants is this casual Asian food hall started by Nicky Ramchandani. Come for the piping-hot xiao long bao dumplings, which easily rival Din Tai Fung, and stay for extra portions of the honey-glazed scallion pancakes. q@streetery

05 Carine

Izu Ani can do no wrong – all we can do is wait for his next right. And he truly got it right with Carine. The beautiful brasserie at Emirates Golf Club plays to our Euro-envy, and not just with the art deco decor: dishes include the filo truffle tart, grilled garlic prawns, and marinated lamb cutlets with spiced eggplant. Weather permitting, nab a spot on the terrace overlooking the green.

facebook.com/ carinerestaurant

06 Flamingo Room by Tasha’s

Flamingo Room in Jumeirah Al Naseem serves up everything residents want in a dining experience – fresh, flavourful food, fair prices, and a stylish space – so it makes perfect sense that after the success of Tashas, the owner would open a second restaurant. Flamingo Room encourages sharing and has plenty of options for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. You can’t go wrong with the calamari loaded with shoestring fries – it’s an unbelievably good dish.


07 The Loft brunch

We loved Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera, so it was sad news to hear of its closing. But just two weeks later, new concept The Loft opened under new management. They immediately launched brunch – the playfully named Lofty Caviar Brunch. And what a brunch it is. Among the cooking stations dotted around the glorious sun-dappled rooftop of Dubai Opera are an oyster counter, a BBQ station, and a pasta and risotto counter, where dishes are lovingly prepared in a parmesan wheel.


08 The Oak Room

It turns out that Will Smith and I have something in common – we both love Tom Aikens’ restaurant The Oak Room at the Abu Dhabi Edition hotel. The chef told us Smith loved his meal so much on his first visit he returned the very next night – with a party of 16. Do as we both did and order the 250g Black Onyx striploin from Australia. It’s a cut that required but a chew or two, simply melting in our mouths. It’s a meaty marvel in the capital.


09 Scalini

Guarded by a beautiful blue front door, and tucked away on the lower floor of Jumeirah Restaurant Village, Scalini is a chic Italian restaurant that has arrived in Dubai by way of London. It’s old school and thoroughly charming; photos of famous people dining at the London outpost line the walls, and white linen tablecloths cover the tables. You’ll go a long way to beat their ‘Pappardelle al Ragout di Vitello con Tartufo Nero’, that’s homemade ribbons of pasta with ragu of veal and truffle.


10 Reform Social & Grill

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June 2019