Will this much-anticipated opening satisfy patrons of the space’s former tenant, the Rivington Grill?
As soon as we stepped foot in the exposed-brick entryway, we were whisked up to see this Madinat Jumeirah restaurant’s prime spot.
Nestled in a private courtyard sat an intimate table for two, with a priceless view of the Burj Al Arab, and a likelihood to see many an engagement before the year is out.
But, alas, as a platonic duo with no intention of putting a ring on it, we took a table downstairs, in the multi-storey space formerly occupied by the once-beloved Rivington Grill.
However it was no relegation — after weaving through a warm, wood-heavy interior, the air humming with instructions from the open-plan kitchen, we stepped out on the terrace. Blanketed under a pine canopy dripping in foliage was a splay of rustic tables, surrounded with cushioned-lined banquettes.
A central stream of marigold-hued bulbs created a soothing ambience after the sun dipped beneath the sea and we were handed our leather-bound menus.
Now, a word of warning to those who don’t like to share – it’s hard to be selfish here. The modern European cuisine is broken down into 24 small savoury plates, designed to be mixed and matched. Nick Alvis and Scott Price, of Taste Kitchen fame, are behind the concept, where each dish is based around four key ingredients. So while it’s not overcomplicated, that’s not to say the menu isn’t refined – think a mousse here, an experimental crumble there.
We began with the sage eggy bread (Dhs45), an expertly fried slather of fluffy dough coated in an aromatic infusion of herbs. Dotted with a tangy onion confit, crunchy spelt and some crispy fresh sage, this will have you nostalgically reminiscing about your nan’s home-cooked stuffing.
We also agreed to sample a dish we initially thought would be more at home on a Fear Factor eating challenge – and were pleasantly surprised by the sweetbread (Dhs70). Drizzled in a rich jus and served with a cepe (that’s mushroom to the rest of us) mousse, the tender meat was singed just enough on the outside while yielding a juicy inside that had us scratching offal off our dining black list.
The eryngi mushroom, curry and cashew nut (Dhs45), however, left us a little perplexed. While the Pad Thai-esque topping had us desperately in need of a big tub and a spoon, the mushroom lying underneath was a little too rubbery for our liking.
Yet when it came to the meatier dishes (quite literally), the sirloin of beef (Dhs100) – pink, tender and woody – didn’t disappoint. The creamy quenelle of potato gratin made an excellent bedfellow, while a salty, pungent serving of wilted-down leek amped up the flavour.
While folly can more than accommodate a vegetarian, if you’re averse to meat or fish this probably isn’t the right spot for you. But neither is it going to become your local for a slab of rib eye and a pint.
Where Folly has succeeded is by taking the fine dining concept, simplifying it, and teaching it how to enjoy a good sunset.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh, Dubai, Fri to Sat noon to 3.30pm, 5pm to 11pm, Sun to Thur noon to 2.30pm, 5pm to 11pm. Tel: (04) 4308535. Taxi: Madinat Jumeirah. folly.ae