Monday, November 15, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Barasti Bar, Meridien Mina Siyahi

In a nutshell: Fabulous location, good food but rip-off prices

In a city built along the beach, it always amazes me that there is really only one beach bar/restaurant available. As pretty much the whole coastline has been commandeered by hotels, most seem to have decided to keep the beachside for sunbathers - if I was a hotel guest I would appreciate that but as a local resident it is a real shame. An afternoon spent at Barasti Bar lets you feel that you're almost on holiday and is a real escape from the city but sadly they have capitalised on this fact by charging extremely high prices for their food.

A few years ago Barasti was just a small bar looking out over the sea, it has since been hugely expanded and now covers 3 floors - on a Friday night the downstairs section attracts the mini-skirt and high-heels brigade so we stayed around the swimming pool upstairs where it's more casual. From our rattan sofa we were able to soak up the view of the yachts on the shimmering water, the sun slowly setting and turning the sky orange and a very strange constant fall of parachutists landing on a strip out to sea - does that happen every Friday? I have no idea! What would be perfect would be if I could include a photo of our view but I completely forgot to take one...I was clearly too wrapped up in just absorbing the atmosphere.

We decided a tapas plate would be a good starter for the 4 of us to share; at Dhs 190 for 6 plates it seemed quite pricey but we needed something to nibble at. When I went to the bar to order the 6 plates we wanted, I was informed that the Dhs 190 offer is the 'chef's choice' of plates - why? It made no sense. Not wanting to end up with items we didn't like, I ordered each plate individually (Dhs 35 a plate). My understanding from the menu was that each plate would have 4 pieces - perfect for the 4 of us - but as it turned out there were only 3. Sharing a pork rib or a chicken wing is not the easiest thing to do! Everything was excellent (pork ribs with a slight BBQ kick, tender calamari, chili chicken wings that weren't too spicy, vegetable spring rolls and 'popcorn shrimp' which were just breadcrumbed shrimp) but I think Dhs 20-25 a plate would be a much fairer price and would encourage people to order a few more.

There is a Dhs 75 Friday Arabic buffet serving lamb kofta, beef kebabs and chicken kebabs accompanied by Lebanese salad and bread. It looked alright but Lebanese salad isn't the most amazing thing in the world (just chopped vegetables for you to make your own salad really) and Arabic bread has yeast in it so I'm still trying to avoid yeast where possible. We all decided just to order off the menu: pizza, a burger, pork ribs and seabass for me. A steak and chips at Barasti is Dhs 170!!! At M's Bistro in Meridien Dubai you can get a fantastic steak with side orders for under Dhs 100 so I was really shocked at such an extortionate price. My seabass was nicely tender but there was barely enough potato and squash served with it and they could certainly do to be a bit more generous with the accompaniments.

Overall, location-wise Barasti can't be faulted and the quality of the food was very good. It's just a shame that they are capitalising on their position to overcharge for the food.

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