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Quelle surprise

New executive chef Ronald Epie adds a helping of French flair into The Exchange Grill’s varied offering

With Dubai’s culinary scene continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, there has become a growing need for restaurants to change with the times and separate themselves from the competition. This is especially true for the many steakhouses that can be found throughout the emirate.

While there will always be demand for the finest cuts of beef, presenting a more varied offering will help stand out from the crowd. And that is exactly what The Exchange Grill has achieved with its impressive new menu from executive chef Ronald Epie. Recently appointed to the position, the experienced Frenchman has introduced some Gallic flair into the restaurant’s kitchen.

Housed in Fairmont Dubai, The Exchange Grill has carved out a reputation as one of the finest steakhouses in the city and an excellent selection of beef remains on the menu. There is premium gold Angus, Wagyu striploin and a succulent Kobe rib-eye. But now there is far greater variety, with dishes inspired, and ingredients sourced, from all corners of the world.

This is clear when our starters arrive at the table, the most eye-catching of which is the foie gras tempura, caramelised with a port wine sauce reduction. A dish that helped Epie’s father claim a Michelin star almost 40 years ago, it is presented in the shape of a large snail’s shell that cracks easily with a tap of the fork. This then reveals the huge helping of the French delicacy that is delicate, buttery and extremely rich.

To complement the flavour, we selected the burrata and pomegranate. A great option for vegetarians, it is served with cherry tomatoes, basil, rocket leaves and a rather surprising element of green grapes. These provide a burst of flavour that goes well with the generous helping of cheese that requires you arrive with a serious appetite.

When it comes to the main courses, we once again decide to sample the newest creations and seafood is the order of the evening. Despite being titled grilled jumbo scallops, the plate arrives with several plump molluscs beneath a bed of fennel salad with slow-cooked onion, ginger and turmeric. This is ringed by a foamy coconut jus that lifts the flavour of the scallops so that they are the star of the dish.

Similarly, the Atlantic cod ‘Asian style’ also places the emphasis firmly on the cooking of the seafood. The often simply prepared fish is elevated, thanks to being marinated in soy and mirin, giving it a far more complex flavour. It is served with salt crusted celeriac, mousseline root vegetables and a black sesame dressing, proving that ingredients from different continents can pair perfectly.

Despite steak not appearing on our plates throughout the evening, our appetite had been well and truly satisfied. Yet, having seen the dessert menu, we were tempted to try one more course. Fortunately, the molten chocolate sphere is the perfect dish for sharing – it also brings a sense of theatre to the dining table.

Delivered to the table, the waiter then pours hot chocolate sauce over the sphere which somehow defies logic by holding firm before finally collapsing to reveal a smaller sphere of yoghurt vanilla ice cream with raspberry jelly. Each mouthful is exceedingly decadent and the chocolate has that perfect sheen that proves it has been expertly tempered.

The perfect end to a memorable meal, we just have time for a digestif from the restaurant’s substantial drinks menu to conclude the evening. We settle for a Fairmont Old Fashioned as we finally have the chance to appreciate the stylish and comfortable surroundings.

Huge leather chairs and clean, crisp table cloths give the restaurant the look of a fine-dining establishment. There is also an intimate feel, thanks to the tables being well separated, meaning it is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.While many diners will undoubtedly still descend on The Exchange Grill to sample the steak, those who choose to try the new dishes on the menu will be in for a very pleasant surprise.

For more information or reservations  04 3118316 or


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