Wednesday 30 January 2013

The Buddha Bar, Grosvenor House, Dubai Marina

An over-the-top restaurant for an over-the-top city, the Buddha Bar is in the lively Grosvenor House complex, which draws wealthy locals and some scantily-clad companions in spray-on dresses. Outside, there are Ferraris, Bentleys, Porches and the like. Inside, the Buddha Bar offers dining on a grand, theatrical scale. The spectacular main dining room has a twenty-metre glass wall overlooking the harbour, not to mention a towering statue of buddha, a cascade of chandeliers and a very long bar where you can sample a cocktail. There are also a clutch of smaller, cosier alcoves and rooms decorated in an opulent Asian fashion. Unfortunately, the Thai, Chinese and Japanese food doesn't always live up to the venue. The half a dozen "homemade" dumplings (90 dirhams) - two filled with "squid ink prawn", two with chicken and two with vegetables - are disappointingly short of flavour and very uniform. You need the accompanying chilli and soy sauces. By contrast, the fried Cajun soft-shelled crab is succulent and really delicious - its sizzle is offset nicely by the accompanying rocket. Among the main courses, the Thai green chicken curry (170 dirhams) is quite runny and nowhere near as spicy as the waiter makes out. Still, the flavours are nicely balanced and the accompanying Jasmine rice is precisely steamed. As you would expect, the service is attentive, the wine list is long and the music is chilled, but the venue is the main event - the Buddha Bar is a destination restaurant. 8/10