This beachside hideaway is found in a palace on The Palm, but is the food of royal standard?
Any restaurant found in a palace sets a royally high standard, so we had high expectations for Villamore, the new European spot found inside the Emerald Palace Kempinski.
The hotel is certainly luxe, with a chandelier boasting 28,000 Swarovski crystals the centre piece of the grand lobby, while 24 carat gold-plated designs adorn the roof and walls. However out at Villamore, it’s a more laid back, if equally luxe, approach.
The self-titled ‘beachside hideaway’ is an accurate description, and you’ll find Villamore tucked away in its own building on the opposite side of the expansive resort pool.
The two storey space is stunning; think whitewashed and nautical interiors in the indoor restaurant, striped canopys adorning white cushy cabanas on the leafy terrace and a chic open-air rooftop that wouldn’t feel out of place in an upscale hangout in Mykonos.
Kickstart your culinary tour of Europe with a trip to the walk-in antipasti room (Dhs90 per person), where you’ll likely find yourself heaping extensive offerings of cold cuts of meat, cheese and salads onto your plate, and still returning for seconds.
There’s a big focus on seafood, and the Scallop Carpaccio (Dhs80) is a wonderful example of simple seafood done right. Served with a simple base of basil oil and drizzled with lemon juice, thinly sliced pieces of fresh scallop are topped with shavings of radish and perfectly presented. Another solid starter choice is the Warm Octopus Salad (Dhs80). Just-warm pieces of soft potato are topped with chunks of octopus, which are smooth and easy to cut, rather than rubbery as octopus can sometimes be.
The salt-crust cooked seabass is an expensive option at Dhs450, but can easily be shared between two or three people – although you’ll need to order sides separately. Sides range between Dhs40 and Dhs45 and include a crunchy Broccolini with lemon zest and garlic (Dhs45), and a heritage tomato salad (Dhs40), which is mixed with pomegranate and red wine vinegar to give it a punchy flavour. The seabass itself is finished in front of you by the waiter, and the tender fish slides effortlessly off the bone with each serving. It’s fresh and flavourful, managing the perfect balance of saltiness from the crust with ease.
Save room for dessert – the Vanilla Panna Cotta (Dhs55). It’s a sweet, light portion of panacotta and macerated strawberries, then topped with balsamic vinegar and pepper, adding an unusual but welcome spice to the sweet taste.
Villamore is the kind of place you come for lunch and stay late into the night, thanks to its welcoming vibe, high quality dishes and friendly, five-star service.
Villamore, Emerald Palace Kempinski, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 12pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 248 8890. villamoredubai.com