Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wining and Dining

The fabulous private dining room
Ok, so everyone’s clamouring for my review of Atmosphere.  Here goes.  For those of you who have been living in a cave (or to be fair, just don’t live in Dubai) it’s the new restaurant in the beautiful Burj Khalifa, and the world’s tallest restaurant, on the 122nd floor. 

You might be thinking that this is a gimmick, and it’s a fair assumption to make.  Dubai is full of these swanky places where style triumphs over substance.  That said, I had the highest of high hopes for the place, and we were so giddy that we made our way over a full 45 minutes before we were due to dine (it’s just a few minutes from my front door – additional bonus and pressure for it to be good – this could be our local hostelry!).

I won’t keep you in suspense.  It’s.....AMAZING.  I’m a girl who likes superlatives, but honestly, it’s PHENOMENAL.  Summary of just why I loved it so very much:

First Impressions
It’s in the Armani Hotel, so you can imagine the general feel and style of the place.  Just like the hotel, it’s like stepping into a dream interior magazine spread. Elegant, sophisticated, grown-up glamour.  You’d expect nothing less from Mr Armani, no?  Accessing the restaurant is an experience in itself – we, apparently, were the first people to ever attempt to get to the hotel by foot (!) which threw the security staff completely on the walk up, and also meant that we missed the restaurant entrance (hidden round the back by the corporate suite.)  Of course this wasn’t a problem, as in true Armani style, the beautifully dressed staff escorted us through the hotel and up to the restaurant.  I say ‘up to the restaurant'; bear in mind where it is.  If you’ve been up the Burkj Khalifa, you’ll know about super fast lifts that only have one button.  These are the same – but they travel faster – 250 km’s an hour, to be precise.  It takes just 45 seconds to travel 122 floors. Squeak!

Ambience and Service
From the moment you step out of the lift, it’s an education in perfect service, without being obsequious.  You’re greeted warmly and led through the beautiful restaurant.  Reds, russets, and an open kitchen mean that it feels extremely warm and welcoming and not at all stuffy.  There’s an air of excitement that is infectious.  Everyone is giddy to be there, and in turn, the staff are giddy to have you there.  It’s quite a vibe!

The Food
Three words: TO DIE FOR.  I haven’t had food that good since Le Manoir in the UK, and that was probably 10 years ago.  (To be fair to Dubai, Mezzanine comes a close second.)  It took us about half an hour to peruse the menu fully, what with the intriguing selections and the view to keep you entertained.  I settled on air dried wagu beef with artichokes, followed by the most divine melt-in-the-mouth lamb.  This, coming from a woman who was vegetarian for 17 years up until twelve months ago. Who knew?!  The boy tucked into chestnut and pheasant soup followed by steak.  Both delish. 

Ok, ok, the VIEW
I think it says a lot about the quality of the food that the view is the last thing that I mention.  Of course, it’s stunning, and a focal point of the whole place.  I’m sure it will attract tourists by the bucketload, and if Dubai is your home, it’s also utterly fascinating.  And this is from the girl who’s already been up the Burj Khalifa three times.  But it’s not the only thing or the best thing.

What else? Oh, there’s a divine private dining room that seats 12 (minimum 8) with a set menu at 600 dh.  Considering the fact that braying ex-pats regularly cough up this sort of money for a Friday brunch, I don’t think this is too outrageous.  I know where I’d rather be!  There’s also a beautiful bar – Atmosphere Lounge – with a minimum spend of 200 dh.  Think laid-back luxe-louche (have I just coined a new interiors trend?!) with the same fabulous view and service.  And an impeccably dressed dj playing what sounded like French (?) soul. 

There you have it.  Let’s be clear, it won’t replace Ravi’s on a Saturday evening, but it will complement it nicely.  A fabulous evening and experience and most definitely on my list of favourite places in Dubai.  I’ll add it to my list of 9, 067 reasons why I love this city!

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