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Chapter 23: Restaurants and Food

Fine Food to Fast Food--its all here

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Chapter 23: Restaurants and Food

September 23, 2022

Before we begin, we want to answer a couple of off-line questions we received: "Are you all going to talk about Iran and the protests? How does that affect those around you?" It has not been a topic of conversation here. What we know about it is what we see on the BBC. And this: "When you say someone is an Arab, what country does that mean they are from?" The answer to that is: Many. Everybody from the UAE is an Arab. The countries our client does business in: Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar; all Arabs. But there are many other countries that claim the title of "Arabs." Algeria the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. These countries are all members of The Arab League. For the full history of all that, one has to research the Ottoman Empire.

Now, on with today's chapter.

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We have been privileged to dine or graze at several wonderful restaurants here. The One & Only at the Palm on the water, at Carine, Netsu, the Burj Al Arab, Nafoorah Al Qatar, Almas, The Arts Club Dubai (members only), Orfali Brothers and more.

Brunch is very big here but very different from the typical U.S. Sunday brunch offering. First, brunch has been a Friday afternoon affair. Now, the brunch trend is moving to Saturday. Figure on spending between $50 and $100 per person. Once you see what's on offer, you'll determine it is money well spent. We did brunch on our trip in February but skipped it on this journey.

At our hotel, TJ’s offers a brunch in the sports bar consisting of a barbecue every Saturday for $46 including soft drinks, $62 including house beverages, $108 with sparkling wine or $184 with champagne. They serve from 11 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. We peeked inside TJ's but didn't much care for the vibe so we didn't eat there. Or, go to Zuma—a sushi spot near the financial center—where the soft drink brunch is $162 or $216 with champagne. Kids are $70 each.

At our hotel, the aforementioned TJ’s is a neighborhood sports café, Shamiana is Indian (but it was 'not clean' when we went there for dinner, Paros is Mediterranean where the fish is wonderful (we ate there twice and would have dined there more if they hadn't offended me with the way they handled by request to bring a special bottle of champagne) and NONYA is Pan-Asian and the view is to die for--unless it is a hazy night and then it isn't quite so nice.)

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Food is a big deal everywhere in Dubai. This is the first year that the Michelin Guide handed out awards here. Both Il Ristorante – Niko Romito and STAY by Yannick Alléno got two stars. At STAY, the three course dinner runs a bit over $100 per person without beverages.

These were all awarded a single star: Al Muntaha, 11 Woodfire, Armani Ristorante, Hakkasan Dubai, Hoseki, Ossiano, Tasca by Jose Avillez, Torno Subito and Tresind Studio (which only seats 20 guests for dinner). I dined at Orfali with a friend here, unfortunately Paul was under the weather so i was out on thetown by myself with one of my diamond dealer friends. Orfali was just given one Michelin star. The restaurant is owned by three brothers, Mohammad, Wassim, and Omar Orfali. They are inspired chefs and passionate about their craft. The food presentation was beautiful. i'm sharing the pics so you can take this gastronomic odyssey vicariously. Orfali is not a white table cloth restaurant. It is small, a very trendy vibe, no alcohol (remember in what part of the world we are), and you have to walk outside to go to the ladies room (very odd). The meal was amazing! All this food has been great - i think. I am quite sure that my jeans are not going to get on me when i get home. It will be leggings until i get the 'trip weight' off of me. Our new scale that weighs in pounds seems to climb a pound a day - OMG!0164c5b0-3b4f-11ed-b806-b9f9eb71b2e7.jpg01098650-3b4f-11ed-b806-b9f9eb71b2e7.jpg00ede800-3b4f-11ed-a37c-4f4e3ee8b49c.jpg00ee3620-3b4f-11ed-898c-e3b79520271e.jpg00ae1fe0-3b4f-11ed-a37c-4f4e3ee8b49c.jpg

Here we have, from Orfali Brothers, a vegetarian dish, a lemon tart, wagu beef skewers, bread and cheese course and scallops.

Famous chefs abound: Gordon Ramsay has Hell’s Kitchen and Bread Street Kitchen here, Jason Atherton opened Marina Social, Kim Joinie-Maurin has Al Mahara, Nobu Matsuhisa has a Nobu here, Heinz Beck opened Social and Vineet Bhatia has Indego.

At Dubai Mall, recognizable names include a Burger King, Chili’s, Cinnabon, Dunkin’, Eataly, Five Guys, Hardees, Joe’s Crab Shack, KFC (two of them), Krispy Kreme (three), McDonald’s (two), P.F.Chang’s, Panda Chinese, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut (two), Red Lobster, Shake Shack, Starbuck’s (five), Subway (two), Texas Roadhouse, Cheesecake Factory, Tim Hortons and a Wendy’s. One of the Starbuck’s is called a Starbucks Reserve which is “a selection of the rarest, most extraordinary coffees” where “we push our own boundaries of craft, developing a unique roast for each individual lot before experimenting with coffee as an art form.”

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The normal dinner check will include at 10% service charge but tourists are often encouraged to add a bit extra if the service is good. There are Ladies Nights virtually every night of the week at various bars and clubs where women can drink either free, or very cheaply. The rooftop bar outside “Paros” here at TAJ is such a spot. But, at this time of the year, it is awfully hot up there. The restaurants and bars at the Taj truly rock on the weekends. We have stayed clear. I'm not sure what that says about us but i think it starts with our clubbing days are over.

Paul writes of the ladies nights, it may surprise you as to how progressive Dubai has become. This has been a slow process in the Middle East with Dubai likely the most progressive. It is close to anything goes. I digress to a funny story on this process of becoming more progressive. One of our associates who was a former Bulgari who had been visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi, where the morality police are no longer an issue in most places, the government decided that the Saudi's should all work and was encouraging companies to hire women and encouraging these women to work. How they did that he either don't know or didn't say. But, the story he told went on to explain, at Bulgari a woman who had been a housewife was hired and objected to being asked to clean the glass on the jewelry cases. After much conversation, the next day she brought her maid in to clean the glass for her. Why in the world did she take the job? Maybe for the employee discount? For those of you who work in retail i thought you would get a kick out of this story. Just when you thought you had heard it all......

Pricing at a fine dining venue here is similar to what one would expect to pay in the U.S.

And, as a final mention, across the road and down the block from our hotel is, get ready for this all fans of “Chef Paul’s” amazing pizza night feasts: Papa Murphy’s Pizza!

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Getting its start here a decade ago, Papa Murphy’s is about a quarter of the way to its franchisee’s goal of 100 stores. One big difference: here they deliver and they will even bake the pizza for you if you want. We were tempted to have one delivered to the hotel to see how they do it here. I called from the phone in our room. The operator said I needed to have a phone number registered but would not accept the hotel number nor my mobile number saying both were international numbers and only a local number would do. I cannot explain how the hotel number is anything but local but it does not pay to argue with a telephone pizza order taker.

I went down to the ground floor where I knew the concierge could handle the ordering for me. He got farther than I did with the telephone ordering center but my credit card number was twice rejected--no reason given. He tried to simply order it from their app. But there, we could not discern whether or not the order was placed as we wanted it to be.

I gave up and walked; it was no more than five minutes away. Everything went as it should. The pizza was good. Having said that, when I cook a Papa Murphy's Pizza it isn't merely good. It is phenomenal, monumental, awe-inspiring. Ask anybody for whom I have cooked and they will tell you it be so. Paul does cook a mean Papa Murphy's pizza and it is always a hit. It's tricky too as he has to pull the paper dish out from under the pizza and then put it back. But please don't get the idea that Paul is a chef. His repertoire of dishes is limited. If i hard boil the eggs he can peel them and make himself eggs salad with two ingredients - egg and mayo. If you want a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch with skim milk, Paul is your guy. Bologna and cheese rolled up together, a true culinary treat. I am the chef, unless it is pizza night, and Paul cleans up, it is a very good division of labor and works for us.

Note to self: Since I clean up when she cooks, it seems only right that she cleans up when I cook. It's only fair.

Posted by paulej4 14:46 Archived in United Arab Emirates

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Comments

Great stories but I especially love the one about the salesgirl bringing her maid from home to clean the jewelry case glass! Thanks for sharing!

by liz sweney

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Ben, After the signing the Declaration of Independence.
Papa Murphy's in Dubai! Lots of other great names - a Foodie's paradise.
Stay safe!
CC & JC

by Chuck

We feel very well advised on food selections in Dubai, thanks! Providing glass cleaning expertise seemed logical….and hilarious!

by Sue

“If you want a bowl of Raisin Bran crunch with skim milk, Paul is your guy”

You guys crack me up.

Great stories

by Theresa

Great stories! I’m intrigued that there was an unsanitary restaurant. How’s that tolerated?

by Vince

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