Here's your guide to 7 of the new restaurants at City Walk
City Walk continues to grow with new restaurants, bars and even a boutique hotel. Here are our reviews of the new spots now open…
1. Sikka Cafe
In brief: Emirati comfort food that ranges from Bedouin dishes to butter chicken.
Ever wondered what Emiratis eat for Friday lunch at their mum’s house? Well, then, try out Sikka Café: its menu is a Dubai comfort-food greatest hits.
Remember, the emirate’s cuisine is about more than mandi – in fact, the heart of the city’s food ranges from the falafel served in Satwa to the curries of Meena Bazaar and the Persian rice dishes of Deira. Sikka acknowledges this.
We started dinner there with a crispy, light falafel that wasn’t too oily or too dry (Dhs18) as well as crispy whitebait, which could have done with a touch more of the lemon and paprika that was promised (Dhs26). The absolute highlight of the meal was the butter chicken (Dhs48). We weren’t keen on ordering it – we normally find butter chicken about as exciting as lukewarm tomato soup – but we’re glad we did. With a peppery punch, the nutty sweetness of fenugreek and the burn of Kashmiri chilli, this is the most interesting iteration of the balti classic we’ve ever tried.
From beautiful tiles to the lovely wooden furniture, and mismatched frames adoring the walls, the décor at Sikka Café is delightful, but if you’re popping by for dinner any time soon, we suggest you bring a cardigan and sit outside because it gets busy at night and is great for people watching.
Price: Under Dhs250
City Walk Boulevard, off of Al Safa Street, Jumeirah, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8am to midnight, Fri and Sat 8am to 1am. Tel: (04) 3856524. Taxi: City Walk Boulevard. sikkadubai.ae
2. Dragonfly by Tim Raue
In brief: An unlicensed Jumeirah restaurant with food that rivals Zuma
The chef is from Germany (his Berlin restaurant has two Michelin stars); the cuisine combines the precision of Japan, the flavours of Thailand and the heritage of China; the interiors look like an opulent Shanghai theatre as imagined in the pages of Paris Vogue and the restaurant is smack bang in the middle of Jumeirah.
Dragonfly is culinary hybrid-vigour at its best, and proof that globalisation has improved the food we get to eat today. Sure, it’s pricey for an unlicensed place – the eight-course set menu costs Dhs650 a head – but the food you get here is top notch: many of the dishes are the same as the Tim Raue restaurant in Berlin (which sits at 34 on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list). The food here requires painstaking preparation and fine ingredients, so you get what you pay for.
Petit fours include beautiful discs of fresh horseradish, the Peking duck four ways (Dhs128) comes with one of the most moreish broths we’ve ever slurped and the turbot main (Dhs138) is the most subtle employment of soy sauce we’ve ever tasted. But what’s the dish you absolutely have to order? That’d be the Canton-style langoustine with wasabi (Dhs88) – a super juicy shellfish starter with the perfect flavour combo of sweet mango and punchy wasabi. We would order it again (and again and again).
Drinks-wise, the homemade ‘jine’ (which is a play on juice and wine) is a refreshing alternative to sugary mocktails – we particularly loved the punchy tamarind and Madagascar pepper, which is served in a lovely Rubenesque wine glass.
We’ll be back.
Atmosphere: Formal; Romantic
Price: Dhs250 to Dhs749
Building 5, City Walk, The Boulevard, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 3427044. Taxi: City Walk. dragonfly.ae
3. % Arabica
In brief: Pretty as a picture… and it serves great coffee too.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that % Arabica is homegrown. Instead, its flagship café is located in the heart of Kyoto, Japan. Founder and coffee farm owner Kenneth Shoji has managed to create a café with such impressive branding that it stands out like a beacon of cool even from its boardwalk City Walk location. In the shop’s sleek, minimalist interior, it feels like everything within sight – from paper cups and trashcans – has been embossed with the store’s logo. The coffee is a major draw too, of course.
City Walk Boulevard, Dubai, Sun to Wed 9am to midnight, Thur to Sat 9am to 1am. Tel: (04) 2735775. Taxi: next to Dragonfly. arabica.coffee
4. Roux Dubai
In brief: Does this new Jumeirah spot live up to its promise to #RouxTheWorld?
Roux is a casual café with a menu described as “European Mediterranean with an American twist”, which is to say that you get a bit of everything. Not that we’re complaining.
We kicked things off with a selection of sliders (Dhs70 for three). The spicy chicken slider with sriracha, guacamole, salsa and sour cream had a tasty Tex-Mex flavour to it. Even better, though, was the coconut buffalo chicken tenderloin (Dhs50) – a generous portion of tender chicken strips, fried in crispy breadcrumbs, flavoured with just a hint of coconut, and served with an addictive combo of wild roasted garlic aioli and spicy sriracha mayo.
We washed ours down with The Black, a zesty mocktail of lemon, mint, blueberry and detox-friendly activated charcoal. The main dishes weren’t bad at all, just incomplete.
The New Zealand lamb chops (Dhs95) were tender and well-charred, with a buttery cous cous studded with pomegranate seeds, but none of the promised cumin yoghurt that would probably have taken it up a notch.
Similarly, the Wagyu beef medallions (Dhs130) were nice enough, but served with dry vegetable crisps rather than the honey-roasted parsnip offered on the menu
There isn’t a dessert menu, but there is a dessert counter where you can choose from the freshly baked goodies on display (prices start at Dhs25). Our advice is to skip the baked cheesecake, which was a bit dry and stodgy, with a synthetic-tasting strawberry sauce. The jarred desserts, such as tiramisu and lemon meringue, are a better bet.
It’s a shame, as the pretty décor and friendly service could easily make this a neighbourhood favourite once they’ve ironed out these teething problems.
Price: Dhs250 to Dhs749
City Walk Phase Two, Al Safa Street, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, Sun to Thur 8am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4429359. Taxi: City Walk. facebook.com/rouxdubai
In brief: Airy café that’s big on nutrition without sacrificing on taste
Most Dubai expats are just now dipping their toes into the City Walk area, the London high street meets artist-driven neighbourhood in Jumeirah that’s quietly becoming the next great food ‘hood. Now, the opening of La Ville Hotel right in the centre of City Walk has helped cement it as a key tourist and resident hotspot.
Accessible from City Walk’s promenade and the main hotel entrance, Chival adopts the best of both worlds: the slick, friendly and professional service of a hotel establishment mixed with the playfulness of an independent outlet. Hit the patio, order a drink, and feel smug about being one of the first at this under-the-radar spot.
The restaurant prides itself on serving nutritional feasts of goodness and while healthy eating is nothing new, Chival works with carefully selected regional farmers and purveyors – a concept that still feels fresh. Serving certified organic meats, eggs and salmon, this is exactly the kind of restaurant your clean-eating routine needs.
Dig in at breakfast for farm-fresh organic poached eggs, inch-thick hunks of smoked salmon (cured in-house), with freshly grilled asparagus, spinach and cottage cheese (Dhs58), or try the surprisingly filling coconut milk-drenched Tropical quinoa porridge (Dhs38) topped with mango, avocado, toasted coconut and peanut butter. Swing by at lunch or dinner to feast on a beautiful whole roasted organic chicken (Dhs135), served humbly with a fork sticking out of its back, or the signature Chival Ramen (Dhs45), a huge soup bowl of whole-wheat noodles, scallions, and turkey ham.
Despite essentially being the La Ville’s all-day dining restaurant, the food trumps most, if not all, other all-day spots in the city. In fact, it’s one of the rare outlets that we’d recommend residents of Dubai to try. Combine that good food with a great view and one of the only licensed venues in City Walk (right now), and we suspect it’s going to be well on everyone’s radar very soon.
Price: Dhs250 to Dhs749
La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk Dubai, daily 6.30am to midnight. Tel: (04) 4033111. Taxi: La Ville Hotel. livelaville.com
6. Walnut Grove
In brief: South African food with unusual dishes
Now here’s a cuisine you might not be familiar with. Walnut Grove’s family-orientated South African fare is a unique addition to the City Walk complex. Priding itself on rustic cooking, the sister restaurant to the family’s Johannesburg site is a bright and inviting space. And let’s not forget the number one reason we’re all dying to visit: Walnut Grove’s inventively named “cannonuts” – a carb heavy doughnut-cannoli hybrid. Yum.
Walnut Grove, City Walk, 39 Al Safa St, Dubai, daily 8am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3173999. Taxi: City Walk. walnutgrove.ae
In brief: Serving steak so tender you will want to lay your head down on it for a nap
In all our steak sourcing endeavours throughout our beef fillet-loving lives, we’ve never once likened a slab of meat to a pillow. Graze Gastro Grill changed all that. City Walk’s brand-new steakhouse is an eclectic mix of edgy, chic and fine dining – in the best possible way.
There’s a strong Mediterranean influence shining through the menu, and sharing plates is encouraged. The grilled razor clams (Dhs56) were tender, and drizzled with just the right amount of cilantro pesto. We were also salivating over the baked oysters (Dhs28), perfectly crisp and adorned with spinach and a generous smattering of Parmesan.
But nothing could quite compare to the steak that followed. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that this was up there as one of the best steaks we’ve had in Dubai. The crispy, charcoal outer edges of the 21-day-aged Irish filet mignon (Dhs255) offset the cooked-to-perfection joy that was underneath. To say the knife glided through the beef is an understatement; it was more akin to slicing through a feather-light pillow. Matched with any of the three most delicious sauces – a bearnaise, morel and wild mushroom, and our personal favourite, gruyere fondue with balsamic onions – this is hands down the best steak we’ve ever eaten. We will likely be hopelessly attempting to emulate it in the kitchen until our dying days.
But it’s not all about the meat. Graze is just as well known for its seafood, and though the sea bass (Dhs140) didn’t have the same wow-factor as the steak, the fish was crispy and light, and lain on a pretty bed of Mediterranean olives, tomato, garlic, herbs and capers.
If you’re not in the mood for meat of any description, the ricotta gnocchi’s (Dhs65) sharp cherry tomato pomodoro elevated this dish well above average potato dumpling territory.
As if we haven’t made ourselves sound mad enough throughout the re-telling of this experience, we must admit we might have also inadvertently fallen in love with our waiter Fredy. Never before have we had such kindness and attentiveness bestowed upon us during dinner.
Fredy farewells us with a heartfelt invitation to return. We’ll be back for more, next week.
Graze, Ground Floor, La Ville Hotel & Suites, Al Multaqa Street, Dubai, Thur to Sun 6pm to 11.30pm, Fri and Sat 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 11.30pm, Tel: (04) 4033111. Taxi: City Walk. livelaville.com