Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Channels, Media Rotana

In a nutshell: limited but adequate menu, tasty food but very slow service

The Media Rotana Hotel in Al Barsha has 2 restaurants: Channels and Prego's. We were at Prego's last week for dinner and on a Friday they do a 'bubbly brunch' which we decided was too much food and too much money (AED 199 non-alcoholic and I think it was AED 299 alcoholic) for a small simple lunch. That left us with Channels where we were the only diners. In the evenings and I expect for breakfast, Channels is a buffet restaurant but at lunch time (probably due to the total lack of guests) they offer an a la carte menu. The restaurant is laid out around the central marble buffet station so without any buffet laid out it felt extremely clinical since everywhere is bright white and cold marble. We were sat along the window looking out on to the road and hotel entrance (not the best of views) and the midday sun was blazing in on us so we closed the blinds - almost breaking them in the process.

The menu is small but it offers a good selection and our choices included spaghetti bolognese, lamb biryani, Lebanese mezze and grilled hammour. Simon's biryani came in an authentic tiffin box with a variety of white, yellow and red rice plus the spiced but not too hot meat (off the bone) and the various condiments. It's not what he would usually go for but he said it was really tasty and the meat was tender. Nowhere can go wrong with spag bol and this was no exception. My friend Kathy had asked if the mezze was just for 1 or was for sharing and she'd been told it was for 1 person - as it turns out it must be for 1 really huge person with an equally really huge appetite! I reckon it would have done the 5 of us as a starter or 2 (maybe even 3) people as a main course. She said it was all lovely but just far too much.

Louissa and I both had the hammour and would have both prefered to have had brown rice but that wasn't an option. When will restaurants realise that white rice has ZERO nutritional value but brown rice has 4 times more fibre and twice as many nutrients so it should at least be offered to guests?! Apart from that, the hammour was a bit tough so had maybe been a little overcooked or maybe it's just that I'm not a big hammour fan (it was the only fish option on the menu though). Although the fish was placed on a bed of spinach and mushroom and there were some lettuce leaves on top of it, there still wasn't quite enough veg to match the size of the fish. Since I always like to have a bit of everything on my fork, I left the last bit of fish because I had nothing to eat it with. Not a bad dish, it just needed a bit more veg.

The piece de resistance of the meal was the desserts. The carrot cake had tiny little icing sugar carrotts on! Fantastic look and apparently a fantastic taste (no cakes for me just now unfortunately). The blackcurrant cheesecake was also a hit, although when we ordered a 2nd one we were told they had all finished. The cakes didn't actually come from the restaurant but from the cafe in the lobby and they are all made in-house.

The only real let-down of the meal was the service. Most of the staff were, I think, from Myanmar and whilst eager to please and very smiley, their English was minimal and they all appeared to still be in training since the service was very slow. Whilst I wouldn't race back and couldn't rank Channels up there with Toshi, the food was very nice and the price (even without our Rotana Rewards 20% discount) was reasonable at around Dhs 80 for a main course.


  1. On a very positive note, however, we did get back AED 240 in voucher-form for dining with them! This is for a summer promotion they are doing, so it was a nice surprise to end our lunch!

  2. Hi,

    Recently found your website as I was searching for fellow food bloggers in
    Dubai. Totally agree that at one point there were no sites reviewing restaurants in Dubai, but it's super exciting to see blogs like yours up and alive!

    Being an obsessive/compulsive food lover & writer myself, I recently
    started a food blog ( in Dubai after moving back
    from NYC earlier this year. Was thinking of starting a food blogger's
    community in Dubai, where bloggers come together once a month/every two
    months to either try out a new restaurant, do a potluck with their own
    homemade concoctions, or just sit around and chat food. There's a bunch of people who've started blogging about food this year, and it's always way
    more fun to write about restaurants/food when you have a bunch of people to bounce
    ideas and reviews off of.
    3 bloggers have already signed up and are excited to talk food with others, so do let me know if you're interested! (My email address is

    I look forward to visiting your site more often from now on!

  3. That sounds great! Look forward to hearing more about it.

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