With over 200 nationalities contributing to Dubai’s eclectic culinary scene, the city certainly isn’t short on choice of cuisine, but as an emirate well known for its love of unique dining experiences, there may be times when a traditional meal out just isn’t enough. Enter Dubai’s burgeoning wave of concept dining restaurants. Whether you’re eager for dinner that’s accompanied by a sizeable portion of entertainment or you’d prefer for the evening’s entire experience to take you by surprise, there are several venues that stand out thanks to their progressive approach to fine dining. From hot new arrivals to tried-and tested classics, we present our top selection of unique dining experiences that will keep you talking long after your meal has ended.
An entertainment export hailing from Las Vegas, the world’s highest theatre certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to leaving diners utterly enthralled. Perched on the 42nd floor of Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, the surreal interiors will have you eagerly straining to take in every inch of its Victorian-themed baroque décor. And that’s before the on-stage performances have even begun. Think an electrifying mix of burlesque, aerial routines, cabaret and theatrics that can include anything from mind blowing contortion to acrobatic roller skating, all adding to your unique dining experience.
With all things visual vying for your attention you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the food may be an afterthought. Fortunately however this certainly isn’t the case. While it may seem that Peruvian cuisine has been a popular talking point of late, The Act has been successfully thrilling diners with its contemporary version of the South American fare since opening in 2013. With the exception of Mondays, each weekday the dinner show is accompanied by a set menu packed with delicious fusion fare and punchy cocktails. Served to your table with plenty of dramatic flair, right from the attractive canapés bursting with flavour, through to the sizzling meat plates and scrumptious dessert, each course is a performance of its own.
Eating an entire meal in complete darkness really is as intriguing, challenging and utterly entertaining as you might expect. So for those who have yet to try it, Noire is the place to visit. The idea of ‘dining in the dark’ first hit the mainstream in Paris in 2004 with the opening of the now iconic Dans Le Noir restaurant. In Dubai, the venue at Fairmont Dubai is the city’s very own version of this popular gastronomic trend.
Forget relying on those all important first impressions, the experience will not only heighten your remaining senses but also encourage a new appreciation for food as dishes you may consider to be fairly familiar take on an air of mystery. Without all the usual trappings of distraction or even the faintest glimmer of light to guide you, guests will indulge in a three-course dinner complete with paired beverages during a 90-minute seating. Overseeing the dinner, and on-hand to escort you to your seat and direct your attention to the table setting, are the restaurant’s servers wearing night vision goggles. The big reveal comes after dinner as the restaurant manager and chef offer a lit reception to go through the evening’s menu. Prepare to be genuinely surprised.
As you’d expect from a property that bears the Versace name, Palazzo Versace Dubai isn’t afraid of pulling out all the stops. And it’s this audacious attitude that so brilliantly transcends through to its ground breaking restaurant Enigma. Unlike anything Dubai has seen previously, this eccentric venue promises to change its entire dining concept every four months as it welcomes a new world-class chef and their unique gastronomic vision. As such there is no menu to preview, the element of surprise adds to the evening’s spectacle. Along with the presentation of each dish, the restaurant’s servers cleverly interpret the chef’s inspiration behind each course.
Diners should prepare for a flamboyant show of multi-sensory and molecular cooking that will enliven every sense as each dish unveils a fresh explosion of flavours, textures and aromatic allure. From the artful plates that skilfully walk the line between bewilderment and awe, to those finer details of service and atmosphere, each element is carefully executed to create an unforgettable night that can only truly be appreciated firsthand. Currently helming the Enigma kitchen until April 12 is Spanish three-starred Michelin chef Quique Dacosta.
A theatrical affair, Tresind at Nassima Royal presents an innovative approach to Indian cuisine. While Indian fare is often regarded as quaintly traditional with hearty curries taking pride of place in most menus, a meal at Tresind introduces your palate to a whole host of possibilities thanks to executive chef Himanshu Saini’s expertise in molecular gastronomy.
The modernist chaat trolley sets the tone, as a skilled chef mixes rice dhokla dipped in liquid nitrogen with mint and tamarind sauces over a dramatic show of smoke – and the result is surprisingly authentic. The streetside favourite of pani puri is also on the menu but deconstructed to create a globular jelly-like version that is bursting with flavour. The mains are mouthwateringly good with succulent braised lamb chops marinated in deliciously tangy mango chutney and an Indian version of hoisin duck with chillies, pickled carrots and beetroot. Save room for dessert and you’ll be rewarded with a creative cappuccino candy floss or a deconstructed black forest cake that’s heaped with a rich chocola