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Dubai Round-up

by Krista

Dubai bhrj

Dubai is a strange place. It’s like being back on Long Island, where the only thing there is to do is go to the mall. (Before my fellow Strong Islanders jump all over me, I realize this is a sweeping generalization. I grew up by Jones Beach, after all, and thus spent many a weekend not at the mall.)

But in Dubai, you really do spend a lot of time going to the mall. Talking about how you’re going to get to the mall. Getting to the mall and figuring out where exactly you’re going to go in the mall. Trying to find what you need in the mall without getting lost–or buying stuff you don’t need. And then figuring out how to get home from the wall.

And after you’re done with the mall, you start talking about dinner and drinks. Where are you going to go for dinner? How will you get there? Do they serve alcohol there? And what time will you be coming back and how will you get back?

Dubai thyme

Thyme
Oasis Beach Tower
Dubai Marina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Date of Only Visit: Thursday, January 7th

The Victims: Rutton, Richard, Mireia, Chris, Evelien, Al, Louise

The Damage: A confusing amount of Emirati Dirham.

Our first real dinner was Thyme, mainly because it was conveniently located in our hotel, the Oasis Beach Tower. And also because we had heard the food was pretty decent. And it was decent. But the service was crap.

Dubai thyme pumpkin soup
I liked my  pumpkin soup a lot. Hearty. Spicy, in the best possible way. If only it hadn’t taken so long to arrive!

Dubai thyme sea bass
My sea bass, on the other hand, was terrible. Half of it was undercooked! Undercooked! Ridiculous. More ridiculous still was the amount of time it took to get our mains. We basically had to tell them that we were cancelling our order before they would deliver the food.

Thyme is a food court, really. A food court with table service. I’m not so sure how I feel about that.

Dubai cafe blanc

Cafe Blanc
The Dubai Mall
Downtown Burj Dubai

Date of Only Visit: Friday, January 8th

The Victims: Jose, Roman, Sherry

The Damage: Unknown because it was all Monopoly money to me.

The next day, we found ourselves at The Burj, the world’s tallest building. We took a table in the shade at the Dubai Mall and ordered ourselves some hummmus and labneh. Very generous portions.

Dubai cafe blanc hummus aubergine
Along with the mint lemonade, this was a nice start to the meal. We were all very happy. Even more so with the mint lemonade. Mint and lemons…only two of my favorite things!

Dubai cafe blanc mint lemonade
Things went downhill with the mains, however. My mixed grill was dry and boring. It was also a huge portion that I couldn’t finish. (I liked the chicken best.)

Duba cafe blanc mixed grill
In hindsight, I learned that this place is a chain. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that took away a bit of the “sitting outdoors and looking at the world’s tallest building” magic.

Other places we visited in Dubai include…
On the Border
, a Mexican chain close to our hotel. They make guacamole right at your table, and that’s a good thing. We spent a happy hour or two here, drinking non-alcoholic beers (who knew they’d be so good?) and downing three bowls of guac and chips. Also, very excellent service. Almost too excellent for a place akin to TGI Friday’s. (And much better, for example, than the service at Thyme, which was much more expensive.)
400, the nightclub at The Fairmont. Largest bottles of vodka I’ve ever seen. My friends Dev and Connie got yelled at for kissing. I don’t want to ask how much our evening here cost. Luckily, I wasn’t paying.
Barasti Bar, at Le Meridien. It’s on the beach sort of. But it reminded me of being at spring break in Cancun. In a bad way.
Pai Thai in the Madinat Jumeirah. Worth it for the boat ride alone. And the hotel is LUSH. All the restaurant staff were Thai, which was impressive. Lovely colonial feel to the whole setup. Food better than good, less than excellent. (Too dark for photos.)

The Verdict: Dubai is interesting. Good people watching. Good shopping. I’m sure I only just scratched the surface, but would I go back? Not sure.

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7 comments

An American in London February 8, 2010 - 10:14 am

Dubai isn’t just one mall, though. It’s a series of malls! Having grown up in the Jerz, I know what you mean about mall “culture.”

Did you make it to the outpost of the Great Kebab Factory? [It is a city of “outposts,” no?]

Krista February 8, 2010 - 1:05 pm

Sadly, no Great Kebab Outpost. Was pretty tethered to wedding activities.

Lizzie February 8, 2010 - 1:32 pm

My sister lives in near-by Abu Dhabi, so I had a couple of days in Dubai when I visited her. I’m not big on shopping and I was bored very quickly.

LexEat! February 8, 2010 - 10:52 pm

Hmmm, interesting post. Not somewhere I ever have really felt compelled to go visit – and you haven’t changed my mind!!

Hope you had a good trip though

Krista February 9, 2010 - 2:46 pm

Yeah, if I hadn't have had a wedding to go to, I don't know if I would have gone otherwise. That being said, it's an interesting place.

lara dunston March 6, 2010 - 6:29 pm

Oh dear, what a shame… you didn’t go to any of my favorite restaurants and Dubai has scores of fab places, including a dozen ran by some of the world’s finest Michelin-starred chefs… Reflets, Vu’s, Verre, Mezzanine, Tagine, Okku, EauZone, and Zuma, which you’d obviously know.

Also a shame you didn’t get much further than the mall. I’ve been on the road for 4 years calling into Dubai only every few months, but in all the years I lived there I’d probably only get to a mall once a week tops. *So* much else to do there – fantastic contemporary art gallery scene, cool little old Persian quarter called the Bastakiya, miles of ramshackle souqs, some great little museums in restored old windtower houses, gorgeous Creekside walks to do, etc, etc.

Do let me know if you’re visiting again – the UAE has been my base since 1998 and I’ve been writing on the place forever – I’d love to give you some tips.

Krista March 8, 2010 - 5:48 pm

Wow thank you! See–this was the stuff I wanted to know before I went! I was certain there must be some good stuff in Dubai and it wasn't just all mall, all the time!

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