Can this licensed spot bring some flavour to Jumeirah Village Circle?

Jumeirah Village Circle is not known as a culinary hotspot, but with so many residents in the vicinity and surrounding areas, competition amongst its restaurants is increasing. Recently, a new lifestyle hotel called The First Collection opened its doors, bringing with it a lively new Latin American concept.

Santé Ria Dubai is bursting with vitality, with colourful murals across the walls and warm smiles on the staff’s faces. Neon signage gives the space a modern aesthetic, while hanging plants and colourful furniture transports us straight to the streets of Santiago.

The two-floor venue is split between a casual restaurant on the 29th floor, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing prime views of the city below, and a laid-back bar on the level above which features an outdoor terrace for winter dining with a view.

The menu is vast and approachable, with a mix of dishes you’ll recognise, and some that you probably won’t. Many are family recipes pinched from the chef’s grandmother’s personal collection.

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We kick off with some Brazilian cheese bread (Dhs45) – little fluffy pillows of bread arrive piping hot and oozing with comforting stretchy cheese. Next up is the restaurant’s signature ceviche nikkei (Dhs62), served in a huge dish with enough to feed four people. Large raw tuna chunks swim in a lime and sesame oil sauce, while passionfruit seeds offer an unexpected sweet twist to the dish – if you try only one of the ceviches on offer, make it this one.

The crispy prawn con salsa melosa (Dhs80) is another great shout, with big scampi-like pieces in Panko breadcrumbs bathing in a sweet melocha and mango sauce.

For mains we’d hoped to try the picanha cut of steak, but as it’s currently being imported from Argentina, we settled on the rib-eye (Dhs200). The meat was juicy, although a little rarer than requested and served with too much of the fat, but the accompanying chimichurri sauce was a great addition.

Despite being a brand new spot, local residents are already onto it, and the space begins to fill with groups enjoying the happy hour offer. Wednesday nights are for the ladies, with unlimited house beverages and three menu items for Dhs150 between 7pm and 10pm.

Santé Ria Dubai, The First Collection, JVC, daily 6pm to 2am. Tel: (0)4 275 6630.

Images: Provided