Celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire is back in Dubai, but can he get the formula right again?

This isn’t the first time celebrated Pierre Gagnaire has set up shop in Dubai.

His first restaurant, Reflets, became the go-to spot for fine-dining french fare when it opened back in 2008. The fancy, high-end restaurant survived an impressive eight years (no mean feat in Dubai’s ever-changing dining scene), before closing its doors in November 2016.

At the time, Gagnaire promised a new concept would replace it in the same spot in the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City and earlier this year, he delivered with the arrival of Pierre’s Bistro & Bar.

In this chapter, the stuffy fine dining space has been replaced with an eccentric decor of colourful cushions, neon flamingos and a green foliage that extends from the wall right across the ceiling. It’s a more casual look, that’s been designed to be photographed.

This time around, there’s a stronger focus on grazing in the lounge, than a full a la carte dinner experience (although that’s available too, should you wish). A DJ plays a mix of lively, vocal house tracks, and outside you’ll find prime views of the Festival City fountain show. The lounge menu is concise, and showcases elements of Reflets more high-end offering, such as oysters and crudo, as well as featuring some mores casual plates including a burger and pizza.

A grand assiette de jambons crus (Dhs100) was a generous serving of hams plated on a carving board, served with a selection of breads. Freshly baked breads arrived still warm, and high-quality carvings of each of the four different hams were simple, flavourful and needed no introduction. The Gaya oysters (Dhs110 for three) were served on an inventive bed of sardine rillettes and heaped with fresh corriander and slices of banana. It’s an inventive combination that we’d never have put together, but went down deliciously well.

The beef tartare (Dhs80) was another unique offering. Plated to perfection and topped with sprigs of cress, it was elevated with grilled sardines and the two rich flavours worked in perfect harmony.

Arancini croquettes (Dhs75), were our final order. Crunchy, simple risotto balls were wrapped in mozerella and ragu and deep fried, each bite-sized piece leaving us wishing there were more mouthfuls on the plate.

Pierre’s successfully manages to produce Michelin standard dishes in a casual setting, and thanks to its variety of beverages on offer, some good music and excellent bites, we’d love to see it become a lively nightspot.

Intercontinental Festival City, Dubai Festival City, Mon to Sat 6.30pm to 11.30pm restaurant, 6.30pm to 2am lounge. Tel: (04) 701 1127. pierresdubai.com

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