Curiouser and curiouser about the new Wonderland-inspired restaurant?

‘We’re all mad here’. The eerie words of the Cheshire Cat mark the entrance to Alice, a new Wonderland-inspired restaurant that’s opened in the old Novikov space. Fittingly, the entrance is a bit mad, with floating lamps and chairs stuck sideways against the wall. Inside, however, all the chairs are positioned as they should be, and the Wonderland theme wanes.

A DJ mixes from behind a piano and the restaurant lighting appears to be switched to ‘nightclub vibes’. That might work for a late Friday night dinner but on the quiet Tuesday evening, it’s a little… mad.

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The menu, divided into ‘chapters’, has been created by culinary mastermind Chef Reif Othman, (of Play and Reif Kushiyaki fame). There’s a selection of sushi, cold and hot plates, pizzas, pastas and mains. We started with a few rolls of crispy shrimp maki (Dhs80), made all the more interesting by warm charcoal breadcrumbs and tangy yuzu tobiko.

The Angus beef carpaccio was dense and delicious, and arrived complimented by crisp wafers of parmesan and a healthy dollop of olive oil. The pulpo (Dhs95) was a starter highlight – a beautifully presented ring of lightly-fried octopus, salsa verde, topped with quinoa.

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The seabass (Dhs165) main course was a fun dish, arriving in a bag and expertly served to us by our waiter. It’s also worth giving the D’ Magic of mushrooms pizza (Dhs150) a try. We enjoyed the crispy fried enoki pieces, which gave the soft burrata espuma a crunchy companion.

In case you’d forgotten the Wonderland theme, you could always order the Mad Hatter dessert (Dhs65). It’s a well-balanced combination of chocolate, honey comb, salted caramel and hazelnut that combines to create a Ferrero Rocher-inspired treat. Each mouthful has an element of creamy, crunchy and cold, which worked well for us.

While you probably won’t see the White Rabbit or Cheshire Cat on your visit, there are a few fun surprises for diners, namely the quirky Bellini trolley that roams around preparing delicious tableside drinks.

Final tip: stay for the live entertainment runs daily from 9.30pm. There’s a offering a sensational soul singer and a musical duo playing an electronic cello and violin.

Alice Lounge and Restaurant, Sheraton Grand, Sheikh Zayed Road, daily, 7.30pm to 2am Sat to Wed, 7.30pm to 3am Thur & Fri. Tel: (04) 344 7966.