As much of the world continues to lock down, Dubai is open for business and its restaurant trade is booming.
From Cristiano Ronaldo to Maya Jama, over Christmas and New Year it seemed Dubai was teeming with stars, actors and holiday-makers seeking out some relative freedom from locked-down cities.
With the UAE in the process of a fast-tracked vaccination program, Dubai is considered one of the world's most open places to be, with buoyant hotel bookings and a revived property market. "Dubai has taken away impediments; people see somewhere relatively safe and so they are prepared to travel," Simon Casson, president of hotel operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa at Four Seasons group, was quoted as saying in the Financial Times. The UAE's daily new Coronavirus case rate is at around 3,200, compared to around 46,000 daily in the UK.
According to data provider STR, hotel occupancy across the Emirate reached 66 percent in the first week of December, compared to single digits during the summer. Dubai opened its doors to international tourists on 7 July after roughly four months of total closure.
It goes without saying that off the back of a fizzing tourism market, restaurant trade is buzzing, and new openings abound.
Here are ten of the most hotly-anticipated restaurant openings in Dubai, slated for this year, as compiled by lifestyle app Urbanologie.
This award-winning concept by Heston Blumenthal is opening at the upcoming The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences. Only the third 'Dinner by Heston' in the world, after London and Melbourne, the Dubai outpost includes a separate bar, two outside terraces and a private dining room.
The luxurious restaurant stays true to the Michelin-starred concept's ethos, which traces gastronomic history right back from the medieval age, to interpret these forgotten dishes and recipes in quirky, modern ways in signature Heston style (read: iconic dishes such as Meat Fruit feature on the menu).
The design and development process only starts now, but Chef Director Ashley Palmer-Watts has exclusively revealed to Urbanologie that they are planning to explore incorporating local flavours into the menu - similar to Dinner by Heston in Melbourne, where they use historic Australian influences and indigenous ingredients - and also plan to "have fun" with the bar concept.
This is the first restaurant announcement for the The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences - a sister property to Atlantis, The Palm - which (when finished) features 231 luxury apartments and 795 rooms and suites, plus awe-inspiring facilities such as soaring private garden terraces, and a suspended rooftop infinity pool (one of 90 swimming pools at the property).
Expect modern Japanese fare with American flare from this Hollywood import. Taking a cue from Japan's popular sake bars and traditional Geisha Houses of entertainment - this modern Japanese restaurant, sushi bar and sake lounge embraces the flavor of traditional Japan - with a contemporary spin. The restaurant, located in the InterContinental Dubai Marina, is slated to “embrace the traditional Kyoto culture from 1920 to the modern and futuristic Tokyo of 2050".
The world-renowned Geisha House restaurant was (it closed in 2011) a celebrated dining experience on Hollywood owned by the Los Angeles-based Dolce Group, the restaurant group backed by celebrities that includes Ashton Kutcher. Check back for further information.
Internationally-recognized culinary innovator José Andrés is bringing his Spanish-themed Jaleo restaurant concept to Dubai. This outlet joins The Royal Atlantis's growing line-up of eateries, which includes Heston Blumenthal’s first restaurant in the Middle East. Andrés’ restaurant group includes 30 restaurants, ranging from food trucks to his multi-location vegetable-focused fast casual, Beefsteak, and world-class tasting menus like the Michelin starred minibar by José Andrés.
With Jaleo, Andrés reimagines authentic Spanish traditions with a whimsical twist whilst showcasing the rich regional diversity of Spain in a festive, stylish, and casual atmosphere. Expect creative, edgy, and irreverent small-sharing dishes - with more than a reference to El Bulli's trademark experimental-style of cooking - since Andrés trained under Ferran Adrià at the legendary restaurant. Expect design and style nods to Spanish culture everywhere, from mantilla-inspired curtains to upholstery and tableware.
Signature dishes include aceitunas liquidas; 'Ferran Adrià' - liquid olives, Coca con erizos de mar, cristal bread topped with butter and sea urchin, and Rossejat de fideos - traditional 'paella' of toasted pasta with shrimp and squid sofrito. Also Codorniz con salsa de romero y alioli de miel; grilled quail with rosemary sauce and honey alioli.
Meanwhile, to wet your whistle, try the Albariza cocktail - gin, elderflower, amontillado, citrus, lemon bitters, egg white; or the Spanish Collins with gin, fino sherry, lime & fizzy powder and the Negroni del Campo with Ibérico infused Gin Mare, sweet vermouth, Campari, black olive, thyme & orange.
Award winning Iranian-American chef Ariana Bundy's debut restaurant is to open at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences. Served family style, Persian classics will be given, Ariana’s refreshing modern twist in terms of textures, ingredients and presentation with signature dishes such as Caspian-style filet kebab and rose-scented sea bass. Meals will be complemented by a range of specially created cordials and drinks as well as traditional Persian tea and’ Baghlava’.
An elegant, light yet relaxed and intimate setting, the restaurant seats more than 140 guests offering sea views over the Dubai skyline from wooden ‘day beds’ in a beautiful garden terrace. At the heart of the restaurant is an extensive show kitchen featuring a massive charcoal grill and fire pit Tanoor serving fresh breads. Signature dishes include Ariana’s Caspian-style filet kabab; rose-scented sea bass; a colorful array of new mazzeh dishes, and her take on classic Persian ice cream with saffron, pistachios and rose water.
The first traditional cebichería in Dubai houses an open kitchen, a dedicated cebiche bar and an anticucho grill. Located at mezzanine lobby level, La Mar’s menu dives into traditional Peruvian seafood dishes, anchored by Acurio’s celebrated Peruvian cebiche. Additional fare includes a selection of sharable causas - potato dumplings; tiraditos - a Peruvian style of sashimi and anticucho - street food style dishes alongside Peruvian classics cocktails infused with Pisco.
The restaurant’s contemporary design and elegant interiors have been inspired by the design of a ‘Fisherman’s Wharf’, complete with a high cane ceiling, use of natural materials and handcrafted and locally sourced tableware. Natural light fills the dining space from the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Palm Island via a large open terrace. Acurio has over 50 restaurants worldwide, including three in the US and his flagship restaurant in Lima has held a place on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list since 2011. Expected to open late 2020.
Signature dishes include Nikei cebiche with tuna, Classico tiradito with fluke, Arroz con pato with cilantro rice and duck confit.
The famed Cannes hotspot is heading to Dubai. The ultra-swish club-restaurant is one of the French Riviera’s most famous and glitziest party spots and is opening on the ninth floor in the new Gate Village 11. Expect a similar Asian-themed space done in exotic Balinese style - think a lavish haven of plush sofas, candle-lit tables and an outside veranda facing out on a garden of palm trees. Dine on a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian fare.
Ling Ling serves up Cantonese fare with reinvented presentations of the cuisine synonymous with Hakkasan - alongside an innovative cocktail list, stylish decor - all set to an eclectic soundtrack. Expect a lively ambience and late-night atmosphere - evolving from drinking to dining to dancing – in no particular order.