Category Archives: Dining

Restaurant Review – Tribes African Steakhouse

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We dined at Tribes in the Mall of the Emirates because we’d heard it had fantastic steaks. It’s advertised as an African Steakhouse, and it has the African theming down well – you forget you’re in a mall!  Feels like you’re walking into an African hut of some sort, and you can see the flames of the grill in the back, there are skins and furs on some of the chairs, woven reeds, just a fabulous sense of theming.  Disney would be proud.

Even their menus are beautifully themed, aren't they?

Even their menus are beautifully themed, aren’t they?

Just trying to show you a bit of the atmosphere we experienced.

Just trying to show you a bit of the atmosphere we experienced.

I wanted tile in my house like is on these walls.  Till TBG told me I'd have to keep it dusted.....

I wanted tile in my house like is on these walls. Till TBG told me I’d have to keep it dusted…..

We were happy, had just gotten off one of the Big Bus tours and we were starving!

We were happy, had just gotten off one of the Big Bus tours and we were starving!

This is the bar area.  No, they don't serve real drinks with liquor.

This is the bar area. No, they don’t serve real drinks with liquor.

Pretty dang cool-looking chandeliers, huh?

Pretty dang cool-looking chandeliers, huh?

The seating areas are comfy and cozy, and great for conversations.

The seating areas are comfy and cozy, and great for conversations.

We ordered steaks, and a multi-tribal sausage platter as an appetizer.  The sausages were interesting, the chicken one had little flavor, lamb was a bit more flavorful, the beef yet a bit more, but the camel was *quite* tasty.  The onion and fig jam was gummy and difficult to enjoy.

The bread they brought us I SWEAR I could have eaten nothing but that all night.  It was crusty, warm, and wonderful.

The bread they brought us I SWEAR I could have eaten nothing but that all night. It was crusty, warm, and wonderful.

Appetizer - the sausage platter.

Appetizer – the sausage platter.

TBG's "mocktail" - pronounced yummy as well.

TBG’s “mocktail” – pronounced yummy as well.

Yummm.... one of their "mocktails" - blended fruit juices.

Yummm…. one of their “mocktails” – blended fruit juices.

Our steaks arrived, and be aware that they’re cooked to a textbook level of doneness…… if you order medium, that’s exactly what you’re getting.  The meat was nowhere near as tender as we’d hoped for, and the only flavor in the meat was within the sauce it was served.  We were truly disappointed.  We’ve had better quality meat at a Longhorn Steakhouse chain in the states.  The portions were substantial, though.  And the bread was *quite* delicious – full of grains and all sorts of goodness.  We could have eaten another entire loaf.

The attraction - red meat.  This place is for carnivores, for sure!

The attraction – red meat. This place is for carnivores, for sure!

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TBG's steak.  He loved it.

Again, the atmosphere was quite wonderful, our server knowledgeable and attentive, it was a fun place to eat.  Here are some of the folks hard at work making the food served.

Making that meat magic happen!

Making that meat magic happen!

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Service was exquisite, unobtrusive and professional, with a sense of humor.  It was a nice visit, but not worth a return trip at the

prices they charge – unless you snag a “buy one get one” type voucher from one of the group-selling websites.

Now, even when you're getting your bill, it's presented in a lovely manner, see?

Now, even when you’re getting your bill, it’s presented in a lovely manner, see?

Happy!

Happy!

Here’s a link to my Trip Advisor review 

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of Arabs) – Video inside

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My friend Koral and I decided we wanted to go to the Burj Al Arab for High Tea.  You know, that big sail-shaped incredible looking building sitting on its very own *island* off the coast of Dubai?  The only 7-star resort in the WORLD??

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Yup, that’s the one.  Now, being a 7-star resort and all, they are not gonna let any ole riff-raff in off the street.  No siree bob.  Shoot, this is a resort that has a fleet of TEN white Rolls Royce Phantoms as their airport transfer cars!  As you approach the causeway to gain access to the resort, you have to have a reservation of some kind, and have your name on the “list” at the guard gate.  Otherwise, you’ll be directed to complete the “drive of shame” – turning around and leaving…… in the direction that’s NOT towards the Burj Al Arab. L  But us?  We had reservations, and our name was on the list, so we were waved on.  Here’s what it looked like as we approached…. And yes, I wish I’d taken our reservation paper off the dash, too, it would have made for *much* nicer photos…..

*sigh*.... isn't it just beautiful??

*sigh*…. isn’t it just beautiful??

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated.  There's also a walkway to the right.

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated. There’s also a walkway to the right.

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn't it?

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn’t it?

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

Before I forget, the website of the architectural firm and designer (Tom Wills-Wright of WS Atkins)that designed this building has some awesome information on it – take a peek if you’re just geeky enough to be curious about whether it’s built on sand or bedrock, and why it was designed to look like a sail, and why it was placed on an island, instead of built on the beach…..and exactly what that “sail” is constructed from and how it stays so clean.    Now the designer also has a personal site which has got some crazy-cool stuff on it as well… don’t miss it!

Oh, and lookie here…. You know TBG is a helicopter pilot right?  GUESS WHAT was on the helipad running as we drove up?  YUP!  A helicopter!  You can *just* see the tip of one of the rotor blades on the helipad hanging off the side of the structure.  We were convinced it would take off as we approached and since Koral’s hubby is a pilot too, we’d have the MOST meaningful photos ever.  So we sorta hung back and drove slowly, and waited and waited….. and it shut down.  *sigh*  Oh well,  we heard it as it ended up taking off while we were inside the hotel lobby.  Made me smile.

See the edge of the helicopter's rotor blade??

See the edge of the helicopter’s rotor blade??

When we drove up, the number of extraordinarily exotic autos was pretty surprising, you’d expect them to all be parked as soon as they arrive – the entrance area is actually quite small for the Burj Al Arab.  You drive up, the valets open your doors, you get out and they drive off.  There are staff members to direct you to wherever you need to go, and will answer any questions you may have.  It’s quite busy, but didn’t seem frantic.  Oh, and there’s a colorful camel just to the side of the entrance which made me smile.  The walls are of glass, and the outdoor columns are pretty cool looking.

Now, something tells me that these are "fire" columns.

Now, something tells me that these are “fire” columns.

The nation's rulers

The nation’s rulers

these portraits flanked the entrance

these portraits flanked the entrance

Ya think it's just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

Ya think it’s just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

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All shiny steel and glass outside.

All shiny steel and glass outside.

cars waiting for their drivers

cars waiting for their drivers

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

looking back towards the beach from the resort

looking back towards the beach from the resort

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

As we entered the lobby through a revolving door, we were greeted by staff members in the most lovely uniforms I’ve ever seen.  Jewel-toned and opulent looking – the costumes truly matched their environment.  They were both warm and welcoming to us, and encouraged us to enjoy their lobby and public areas.  Understand, there truly is VERY LITTLE “public area” in the Burj Al Arab –  the lobby is quite sizeable, and there are beautiful water features with “water snakes” very much like Disney has at Epcot – and there are matching aquariums on either side of the water feature and escalators.  But it’s not huge by any means.  Restaurant entrances are to the left and right, and we were directed to the escalators, across the upper level, and to the elevators for a ride down to the Ground Mezzanine level.   OK….. here are some photos…..

all shiny and bright....

all shiny and bright….

see that red leather sofa?  Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has....

see that red leather sofa? Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has….

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this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby.  Just stunning.

this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby. Just stunning.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level... there's a coffee shop/cafe there.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level… there’s a coffee shop/cafe there.

OK, so we’re still looking around, and starting to look up…. holy cow!

looking up through the atrium

looking up through the atrium

aren't the colors divine?

aren’t the colors divine?

a little closer

a little closer

wow - that's the very top!

wow – that’s the very top!

 

Now, our reservation was for the Asian Afternoon Tea, AED285 per person.  It is served in the Junsui Asian Restaurant,  one of the 9 restaurants in this resort.  It was actually so very cool that I’m gonna write about it separately.  Also, there’s a ton of food porn photos that will go along with it.  <smile>

We took the escalators up to the next floor, past the aquariums on either side, and looking down on the lobby area, it’s pretty interesting looking seeing the carpet and big curvy sofa from this angle….. oh, and here’s what some of the gorgeous insets on the floor down there looked like…..

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors.... of *course* it's gold, silly!

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors…. of *course* it’s gold, silly!

As we stepped off the elevator, the “public areas” were clearly indicated by “no photography” signs towards the open café looking over the lobby from the mezzanine level.  That’s cool – but it was a beautiful looking little café, and I’d like to return to try it.

one of the restaurants

one of the restaurants

Tons more photos of the mezzanine level…..

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The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

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After the escalator ride, there is a quirky little water feature in the center of the walkway, filled with various pieces of glass that looks like sea-glass. But look at what you’re walking on to get there!  Awesome tile work.

Simply stunning tilework here, isn't it?

Simply stunning tilework here, isn’t it?

my favorite water feature - on the mezzanine level.  It reminds me of the "water snakes" I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

my favorite water feature – on the mezzanine level. It reminds me of the “water snakes” I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

My favorite water feature there.... did you go to the designer's website and read about it?

My favorite water feature there…. did you go to the designer’s website and read about it?

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The colors are exactly like the ones in the atrium!

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and look! There’s the water tubes!

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Between the lights and the water, I was mesmerized

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Just too pretty to stop taking photos, right??

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Tiny little loose pieces of glass

 

The colors and placement exactly mimic the coloring of the atrium area when you look upwards…. Now this thing was designed to shoot water up 50 meters!  I read about it on the designer’s website.  Really cool and entertaining….I think I have a video of it!

Now, if I remember correctly, I saw a TV special about the design and building of this tallest hotel in the world – the atrium inside – the room walls, not the sail part – was originally white, stark white.  And when HH visited, he asked for more color.  Or I could be making that part up, but it seems like I remember it…….

We crossed past the water feature, and passed by some very luxurious-looking shops to where the bank of elevators is located.  All mirrored and shiny, this was beautiful.

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Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Well *certainly* there's a Rodeo Drive here.... sheesh!

Well *certainly* there’s a Rodeo Drive here…. sheesh!

 

At the far end, there was a woman behind a desk in a cordoned-off area.  I asked her what that area was, and she said “private elevators”.

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Snuck a peek out of the window in the "private elevator" area.

Snuck a peek out of the window in the “private elevator” area.

Lovely glass sculpture/laser rendition of the hotel was enclosed in glass….. I tried to capture it in photos, but it was tough.  Pretty interesting looking though.

Side view of the crystal replica

Side view of the crystal replica

Swavroski crystal Burj al Arab.  Mercy!

Swarovski crystal Burj al Arab. Mercy!

Donated by Mr. Swarvoski.  Frankly, I didn't actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swavroski.

Donated by Mr. Swarovski. Frankly, I didn’t actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swarovski.

OK, our elevator’s here, and Koral and I are headed to the Junsui restaurant for our Asian tea!

Just so you know, a one night advance booking for a one-bedroom suite here (least expensive room) will set you back a cool $1951 USD  non-refundable and payable in full at the time of booking.  But included in that price is the following

“• Personalized butler service. • Sumptuous breakfast buffet for two in the privacy of your suite, Junsui or Bab Al Yam Restaurants. • Full range of Hermes luxury amenities for her and him. • One complimentary bottle of red wine or Bateel juice on arrival. • Complimentary in-suite tea and coffee facilities. • Fresh fruits, Arabic desserts and dates. • Complimentary internet access (Wi-Fi). • Unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park”

For me?  Not likely that I’ll ever spend a night here, but my experience there was certainly fun, entertaining, and a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Hope you have enjoyed seeing it as I did!

Broke Fork? Nah…… video inside

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So, I had a fruit salad from either a local grocery store or a delivery guy – can’t recall which it was.  But, incorporated in the lid was a utensil that entertained me for a bit….. watch…..

Now, I know that it probably seems like I’m easily entertained…. and I really am.  But I thought that this was a pretty cool way to include a reasonable-sized spork in a very small space.  Thought you might enjoy seeing what I’m seeing here in Dubai!

2013 Taste of Dubai Festival

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Held downtown in media city, just behind the CNN building, Taste of Dubai was held in the same location as the Dubai Christmas Festival had been.  We went on Friday, the second day, and arrived about an hour after it opened.  There was the oddest fog that was rolling in and out, I took some photos of it as we drove in.  Frankly, I didn’t know *what* it was –  clouds, fog, smoke, sandstorm, or what.  Crazy looking to watch the Burj Al Arab simply disappear!  But as we got closer to the coast, we realized it was fog rolling in.  Pretty amazing looking.

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Now, before the event, parking information wasn’t listed on their website, and I’d heard it was a big challenge.  I think had we waited much later to arrive, it would have been a big problem, but we found a spot in the lot at the end of the festival area, opposite the single entrance.  Which meant we had to walk all the way around the event to get inside.  The good news is that parking’s free on Friday!

As a huge fan of Disney’s Food and Wine Festival, I was quite eager to attend this event.  TBG got us tickets online at a discount, and bought us the VIP ticket package.  Now, what the VIP ticket package got us extra was 4x drinks and 3x signature dishes from our choice of chefs.  Oh, and entry into the British Airways VIP lounge area.  That last turned out to be the truly valuable aspect of this package, because seating was hard to come by!  Especially shaded seating.

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There were tons and tons and tons of food and drink samples.  I ate things that I wasn’t quite certain what they were, even after I’d asked!  One thing that was truly tasty was the fried prawns with sweet chili sauce from Royal Orchid restaurant.  And an incredibly wonderful staff was manning their booth – one of the women there noticed that my hands were quite full, and she actually placed it on my plate and then proceeded to add the sweet chili sauce too!  Such a level of service rarely exists here – I was grateful.  And, it was some killer stuff, too!

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DJs were playing music in some areas, some places had drummers, some had live music, there was quite a variety of things to listen to – and, save for the big stage, none of it was annoyingly loud.  Sadly, the VIP seating area was RIGHT NEXT to the big stage.  And it was loud.  Word to the wise, don’t sit too close if you’re looking for any conversation.

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There were fun things, a couple of folks in the Maggi booth were cooking up a storm, and one of the local radio stations was there doing a live remote with them.  It had drawn quite a crowd, as the pair were playing well off one another, and the crowd was enjoying their energy immensely.

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Shortly, along came one of the TOD celebrity chefs,  Gary Rhodes from the Grosvenor House’s Rhodes Mezzanine restaurant.  He brought some beverages for the Maggi booth folks, and things really started rocking from there – it was a good time.

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The individual restaurant booths were arranged in a semi-circle, all in the same area.  Consequently, the people traffic in that area was thick, and lots of people spilling food and drinks because they had to step up onto a platform to get into the booth, then step back down into the moving sea of people after negotiating all the other people trying to order, pay for, or see the tiny menus.  Word to the organizers, make the menus visible from the walkways, and put them all in the same general area, so folks know where to look.  And make clearly-marked queues!

But the food?  Oh my goodness…. It was exquisite…..  The Noodle House’s signature dish of chicken and prawns was pretty good, too spicy for my tender palate, but TBG enjoyed it.  Fogo Vivo’s Churrasco Selection of a beef cube, filet mignon wrapped In bacon, and a chicken drumstick left us both hungry – left most of it on the plate as well, I suppose we’re not fans of the particular spices used.  ThipTara’s Thai Ped Nam Ma Kam (BBQ Duck breast in tamarind sauce on top with crispy fried onion) got mixed reviews from us… we both loved the flavor of the duck, but the texture left us reminiscent of overcooked calamari.  We’re not fans of the layer of fat left on the duck, apparently.  But that onion ring?  It was one of the VERYVERYVERY best we’ve ever eaten.

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The Dynamite Shrimp at PF Chang’s was exactly what we wanted – perfect.

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We were both looking forward to Gaucho’s  Churrasco de Chorizo, spiral cut sirloin – we’re both fans of red meat.  Sadly, it was far too tough to cut with the plastic utensils given but the flavor was good.  My favorite?  No. 5 Lounge and Bar’s Mini Waygu burgers.  Oh my.  Perfectly done, perfect condiments, perfect flavor, easy to eat, yummy all the way around!  Lots of cold beverages served with a smile, great music, and grateful for the shady spots that the VIP Lounge provided!  As well as the cold beverages available….

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Lovely location, and a wonderful day!

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And there were goodies there, too…. see what I ended up bringing home?

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Food Review – Ruth’s Chris – excellent red meat!

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TBG and I had the opportunity (and Entertainer vouchers!) to have a meal at one of the local Ruth’s Chris restaurants here in Dubai.  The H Hotel (formerly the Monarch) is close to the Trade Center roundabout.   Reservations are definitely suggested, and they’re easy to make.  Traffic getting there is crazy, as normal.  But, always navigable.

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I’d never had the pleasure of dining at one, but had heard that they do steak quite well – we were not disappointed.  Valet-parking will allow you to simply step out of your car (and they wouldn’t park it right next to the red Ferarri parked outside the door, either, he asked.) and enter through the big glass doors manned by a rather tall gent from Kenya.  We were directed through the lobby and upstairs to the restaurant.  There were some lovely areas in the lobby, but we were *really* hungry and not terribly motivated to take photos….. but here’s a traditional seating area that was really pretty.

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Seated immediately, we snuggled into a quiet half-circle booth with upholstered walls, leather seats and pillows.  Yes, pillows.  I loved that.   And had our own crystal chandelier overhead with just the right lighting.  Our server was Patrick, who spoke excellent English and even got some of TBG’s jokes – or at least laughed at the right times.  We had a late lunch (for us) reservation of 1 pm, and the restaurant was virtually empty.  There were perhaps three other tables filled.

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Choice of sparkling or still water, and the menus and some lovely crusty bread and butter arrived.  The bread was nothing special to us, fairly flavorless, but since my stomach had started growling about 15 minutes earlier, it quieted that.  We’d browsed the menu online prior to our arrival, and TBG had decided that after a positive experience with the Macaroni Grill’s “Sampler” type dish, he’d order the same thing today.  He was sad to find it not on the menu at this location, and asked Patrick was it possibly only available for dinner service.  He got my favorite answer – “Of course sir, we will make it for you!”  *sigh*….. gotta love it.  I opted for a couple of small filet medallions with a crabcake & bearnaise on top, and spiced grilled shrimp alongside.  Asparagus and mashed potatoes rounded out our order and we were left to our conversation while our food was being prepared.

Understated elegance and quiet comfort is how I would describe the surroundings here.   TBG is not a fan of extremely fancy, pretentious restaurants, and he was sitting back and telling me about what all had happened in his workday – perfectly at home.

One annoying thing was that my stomach wouldn’t stop growling.  We could literally smell the steaks brought out sizzling in butter as they were delivered, and it was making us hungry!!

Food arrived, and look at this.  Lovely, but austere presentation on VERY hot plates…. And the focus was on the meat, as it should be.

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Both meats were  grilled to perfection, the crabcake was likely one of the best I’ve ever eaten, and TBG was enamored of the chicken stuffed with cheeses – we were both very happy.  The side dishes were good – tasty, but not the stars of this meal. Fresh asparagus, stalks trimmed and steamed just right with a cheesy hollandaise sauce on the side.  The stars were the steaks – fork-tender and prepared just right.   The rich béarnaise sauce was a lovely complement to the filets, which can tend towards dryness.  Not these.

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All in all, our meal was one that we literally ate until we were full.  Stuffed.  And happy.  Thanks for an excellent lunch, Ruth’s Chris – we’ll be back, and next time, we’ll try dessert first, and if we have room, we’ll eat meat too!  Our lunch was not inexpensive, including all the add-ons we selected, it was right around AED700 before the discount offered by the Entertainer voucher – about $190 USD, and after the voucher, AED485 – about $130 USD.  Well worth it, and we’ll return!  Sadly, our return to the valet pickup area did not provide TBG with the vehicle he was hoping for…..lol……

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