Can the 2015 What’s On Award-winning chef impress again?
Chef Colin Clague is famous in Dubai for running some of the best restaurants in the city, including Jean Georges, Zuma and Qbara. He parted ways with Jean Georges earlier this year because he “wanted to create something really special”. Now, with Ruya, located in the Grosvenor House Dubai, Clague is joining two fellow master chefs – Vineet Bhatia and Gary Rhodes – who have helped turn Grosvenor House Hotel into the gastronomic epicentre of Dubai.
Ruya’s stunning tile work, dark wood floors, theatrical lighting and enormous central oven make it one of the more impressive interiors we’ve seen this year, and the addition of a bar, lounge and separate terrace suggests that it is looking to replicate the success of restaurant/bar concepts such as Zuma. The restaurant was full on the Wednesday night we visited. A good sign. But can Anatolian cuisine (that’s fancy speak for Turkish food) be exceptional enough to match the cool, sophisticated vibe of the hotel? In one word: yes.
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‘Pondering’ dishes such as the citir kalamar (Dhs58) was a fantastic beginning to our culinary road trip of Turkey. Bite-sized baby squid was coated in a thin and crispy sesame batter and served with an avocado and red pepper dip. Equally satisfying were the delicate flavours in the levrek (Dhs73) where thin slices of sea bass sashimi were lightly tainted with mustard, lemon and shaved radish.
Speaking about the levrek, Clague said, “I dream about levrek – the thinly sliced sea bass. As we travelled around the Mediterranean eating mezze, we kept getting this raw bass. It tasted so good! After ten years at Zuma, I love raw fish, so this was the first dish we tried to elevate. The dressing is apple juice, walnut mustard, apple vinegar, honey and Turkish labneh, served with compressed cucumbers and simit crisps. To me, it’s perfect.”
From the scorching central oven we picked out the two cheese pide (Dhs65), which we’ll be dreaming about for weeks. A gloriously toasted Turkish flatbread arrived wrapped around melted cheese and topped with a slow-cooked egg. Salty, gooey and with a slightly charred edge, it’s like the pasty you wish Cornwall would adopt.
From the mutfak (kitchen), order a cauldron of kekek, a traditional Turkish stew that’s been given the Colin Clague treatment. It’s served in a clay pot and reimagined as a barley risotto, brimming with juicy pulled lamb and spices. It’s thick, rich and utterly delicious.
To end the experience, there was the stamboul (Dhs52), a picture perfect pudding with white chocolate and yoghurt cream, lemon Turkish delight and strawberry and basil sorbet. It was all quite a journey. Book your tickets now.
Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6pm to 1am. Tel: (04) 3999123. Taxi: Grosvenor House. facebook.com/ruyadubai
Food: A- (Clague takes pride in each dish and it shows. We can’t wait to try more)
Atmosphere: Equally great for a party as it is for a romantic night out, Ruya is versatile, cool, and chic.