Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dubai Restaurant Review: Rhodes' Mezzanine, Grosvenor House

In a nutshell: fantastic service, wonderful complimentary additions, fabulous food but very pricey.

This is the first 5/5 score in quite a long time and Rhodes' Mezzanine at Grosvenor House Dubai most definitely deserves it. As you approach the restaurant doors to find them being thrown open for you by a smiling hostess, you enter a red & white world of space and refinement. Some fine dining restaurants can feel stuffy, but Mezzanine's minimalist, modern decor ensures that you feel you are in a funky, not fusty venue. As, presumably, the only 19:30 booking of the night, the hostess greeted us by name and we were offered the choice of having a drink in the lounge or heading straight to our table. Although the sofas and armchairs of the lounge looked inviting, we decided to go for our table and found that we were the only diners. Luckily, as the night progressed the restaurant filled up to about 2/3 capacity; the private dining area within Mezzanine was also in use by a large group (great for their privacy and for us to not be disturbed by the chatter of a large table of people).

The Mezzanine menu is very small (I think there were just 8 starters, 8 mains and 8 desserts) so if you are particularly fussy then it would be worth calling ahead to check on the menu before visiting. Thankfully the three of us all love fish as the vast majority of the items were fish based. The waiter informed me that the menu changes every 3 months and the new menu launches tomorrow (6 December) with Gary Rhodes himself arriving on the 16th December to work on next year's menu. A great touch that I've not seen in Dubai before, was that all allergy information was included on the menu - unfortunately for me every dish included dairy but I decided not to worry about it for one night! I'm sure that a lot of the dairy was actually the sauces rather than the dishes themselves and that they could have conjured up alternatives if I'd asked. Another fantastic idea is that in addition to the main menu, there is a 'taster menu' which offers smaller portions of certain items from the full menu. I ordered the smaller portions and they were full portions for my appetite - I was so full at the end that I couldn't even face dessert.

Whilst we were perusing the menu, the first of 3 complimentary courses was delivered to our table: bite-sized Scotch eggs (using quail eggs), foie gras on ginger toast and hot gouda cheese between 2 filo pastry layers. Foie gras is not something I would normally eat, but in a tiny portion it was edible and the eggs and cheese were both delicious. After we had ordered, the 2nd complimentary course arrived: tomato soup in a small china cup - not red tomato soup, though, this was a pale pinky-white colour with a huge head of foam. It was just enough to exclaim at the fabulous flavour without being too much to make us question whether ordering a starter had been a bad idea. The 3rd complimentary course came at the end of the meal and included small chocolates (quite usual in a fine dining restaurant) as well as tiny scones with jam and cream (not usual but totally yummy) - I just wish I had had room to eat them, I only managed half a scone!

I started my meal with a delicious, creamy scallop soup. When my bowl was placed in front of me there was a nest of leeks with a large scallop on top but no liquid - the soup was then poured over the scallop from a jug...impressive presentation. Simon's crab lasagne (see above photo) was also very snazzily presented with delicate pasta layers and a generous amount of fresh crab. Kath's salmon plate had sounded like it would be a huge dish but it was actually very manageable and provided a fantastic range of flavours and textures: a small cup of crab bisque, layers of salmon in the form of a terrine and a small piece of grilled salmon.

My John Dory main course was meant to be served on a bed of mushrooms but the waiter informed me that these were marinated in garlic, instead I opted for the salmon accompaniment of crushed potatoes and peas. It was a fabulous dish and I think the change to peas and potato was maybe even better than the official mushrooms would have been! As the original dish wasn't served with any potato, I had ordered a side of creamed potatoes and the 3 of us did each need just that little bit of extra potato or we would have been left with fish and nothing to eat with it. Simon and Kath both chose the Red Mullet which was also beautifully presented and full of flavour.

I couldn't face eating a dessert but decided a single scoop of rhubarb sorbet (an original flavour that was very tasty) would just cleanse my palate - and we weren't charged for it. Kath went for the British Plate which consisted of a small bread & butter pudding, a jam roly-poly and a sticky toffee pudding! Simon's rhubarb souffle was perfectly risen and once laid in front of him, the waiter cut into the top and poured the custard into the middle...divine.

The staff at Mezzanine are excellent; very attentive without being over-bearing, knowledgeable about the menu and friendly. Our only other visit to Mezzanine was over 5 years ago and when we left the waiter said he hoped we wouldn't wait so long to come back next time. Such great service and food does come at a price our case just over Dhs 400 a head. Wine by the glass is very pricey at Dhs 50-60 a glass and my small side order of potato was Dhs 50. On the main menu, starters are over Dhs 100 and mains are close to Dhs 200 whilst on the taster menu the starters are around the Dhs 60 mark and mains about Dhs 130 or so. Worthwhile for a special occasion, but not somewhere we would go too frequently. I'm already planning our return anniversary in March perhaps?


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