Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Summer Place, Metropolitan Hotel

In a nutshell: decent Chinese food but wouldn't race back.

Summer Place was one of our favourite restaurants growing up, although in those days it was called Summer Palace - when the chef moved on then the name was altered to Summer Place. The decor is the traditional red and black style favoured by Chinese restaurants. We were given a table by the window looking out onto the Metro, as there were 5 of us we had a round table with a lazy susan - vital to easily share dishes although leaving the spoon handles sticking out meant we had a couple of casualties as the susan was turned around.

I wasn't blown away by the food, although my parents and brother Struan thought it was amazing. Struan thought my score should reflect a group vote, but the point of my scores is to compare the various restaurants that I've eaten at so the 5/5 they all wanted is not what I've given. I'm torn between a 3/5 and a 4/5 but will go with 4 since the food itself was good but just lacked the wow factor. My starter of iceburg lettuce leaves with minced chicken, waterchestnuts, vegetables and plum sauce were really nice - a totally wheat-free pancake. The soups (hot & sour and chicken & sweetcorn) were both as would be expected. The appetiser platter with 8 different starters was as Simon and I expected: full of breaded and fried foods. Prawn toast, breaded prawns, spring rolls, crispy chicken wings, crispy dim sum and more. A basket of steamed dim sum was also part of the platter, but these are again a wheat dumpling. We also ordered a quarter crispy duck to share but the pancakes were more like tiny Iranian breads and were not rice paper pancakes, the duck itself was tasty but a bit dried out and tough.

We had a variety of mains including beef with cashews and oyster sauce (not on the menu but I requested it), shredded chilli beef, salt & pepper prawns, lamb with a black bean sauce and sweet & sour chicken. All the dishes were well presented and flavoursome but I've realised that Chinese restaurants must really add a lot of corn flour to their sauces since I found they were all quite gelatinous. Summer Place used to serve fantastic baby BBQ pork ribs but they lost / gave up their pork licence so no pork is now available; a real shame. There was a limited choice of desserts, none of which appealed to me, but others had deep fried ice-cream and toffee bananas/pineapple (fruit caramelised with the toffee and then set hard) which were a bit different although quite rich and so a little sickly.

I was disappointed with the service. Although our waiter was very friendly and was able to explain the menu items really well, my drink arrived a good 10 minutes after everyone elses', my Mum wasn't given a wine glass and had to ask for it, we were given hot plates but then no food arrived until the plates had gone cold and the food was delivered to the table in dribs and drabs rather than all at the same time. A bit more work on the service delivery is needed I would say. Nevertheless, as always, a meal is made by the company you eat it with so it was a great evening despite the fact my review may not sound like it!

In terms of cost, a meal for 5 with a bottle of wine was just AED 1,200 so just AED 240 a head - not bad considering we each had 3 or 4 courses (including the duck). We actually only paid AED 1,080 since we had 2 free main courses thanks to The Entertainer vouchers. There are 'banquet' options with set menus ranging from AED 220-270 per head which are also good value if you like everything on the set menu. Overall, I would eat here again if invited but I wouldn't choose to visit Summer Place again - sadly the memories are better than the current reality.


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