Does Jason Atherton’s new restaurant rival other fine-dining venues in Dubai? 

For Jason Atherton, Dubai is familiar territory. The British chef and restaurateur opened Gordon Ramsay’s Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek in 2001, and now returns to our shores to open Marina Social at the InterContinental Dubai Marina.

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Atherton has enjoyed huge success with Pollen St Social, his Michelin-starred fine-dining flagship in London, as well as a flurry of cool cafés in Shanghai, New York, Singapore and Sydney. Marina Social is cut from the same cloth as his original bistro, opting for a fine-dining experience to match the well-heeled crowd of Dubai.

The menu seems to draw inspiration from Atherton’s frequent flyer miles account.

The Americas shone through in dishes like the half smoked Boston lobster, butter sauce and lemon (Dhs125) and the Alaskan king crab with cauliflower (Dhs115).

marina social smoked lobsterThe lobster represented the Americas.

European cuisine played prominently as well. The goat’s cheese churros (Dhs40) made an unusual but delicious starter with four sugar-coated golden bars stuffed with warm, gooey cheese. The tasty – though miniscule – accompanying pot of truffled honey helped to cut through the thick richness of the cheese.

The wonderfully named ‘social dog’ was a huge hit, which came nestled in a brioche roll topped with caramelised onions and drizzled with sauce. Bite into it, though, to discover the twist. This is no ordinary hot dog – the sausage was a decadent combo of duck and foie gras. Naughty but very nice.

marina social hot dogThe foie gras hot dog. 

As you’d hope from a celebrated British chef, the menu also offers a reverent nod to the culinary traditions of Britain. The English breakfast tea and toast (Dhs45) is less of a single dish and more of an afternoon tea set. A teapot of wild mushroom consommé sat on the first tier alongside two espresso-sized cups with a splodge of cream in each. Toast, bone marrow butter and Gentlemen’s relish were perched on the top tier. The soup was excellent with just the right amount of flavour and stickiness to leave you satisfied after a few slurps.

A heartier meal was the squab pigeon with Brussels sprouts (Dhs180). Tender pigeon breasts hid under a sprinkling of granola and each bite was a mouth-watering multi-layered treat.

While the food here is clearly of a fine-dining standard, the casual atmosphere removed any pretension or stuffiness. The classy vibe and fun epicurean concept combine to create a winning formula. Dubai just got itself another top tier restaurant.

InterContinental Dubai Marina, Dubai, daily 6pm to 11.45pm. Tel: (04) 4466664. Taxi: InterCon Dubai Marina.

The lowdown

Food: A –

Price (for two): Dhs750+

Atmosphere: Haute but not haughty