A trendy neighbourhood spot serving up smokey steaks…

Over in Jumeirah 1, a large villa has been converted into a contemporary eatery specialising in open-fire cooking. 11 Woodfire is a meat fan’s dream but the menu caters to all, using that signature smokey flavour in everything from starters to sweets.

Its modern interiors are spot on, with aesthetic archways, on-trend limewash walls and plush red seating. As you walk in, the open kitchen steals your focus as bright flames flicker from the burning logs and chefs work quickly to plate up.

The menu is clear and categorised into sections with whimsical names like Botanic Kingdom for seasonal vegetables and Ocean’s Bounty for seafood. The restaurant is unlicensed, so we try our luck with a non-alcoholic beer before quickly deciding to stick to water.

Thankfully the starters are more delectable, beginning with red shrimp (Dhs95) which consisted of four shrimp pieces swimming in a pineapple gazpacho with chopped endive and coriander. A delicious and refreshing dish, but we’d expected a bigger portion for the price tag.

We also chose the wagyu burger (Dhs100), a beef patty in a potato bun with tasty melted gouda and mushrooms. We’re all for a medium-cooked burger but the one that arrived could definitely have used a couple more minutes on the grill.

The signature series wagyu striploin (Dhs850), however, was cooked perfectly; with melt-in-the-mouth pieces of Japanese beef, salted to perfection. Kept simple, the steak was dressed only with a sprig of rosemary and ground pepper. Guests can choose their firewood for differing levels of smokiness, we went for the hickory (less strong) to allow the natural beef flavour to come through.

A mistake on our part was getting too excited at the prospect of potato gratin (Dhs48), and thinking it would pair well with a marbled steak. Both dishes stand out strong, separately, but the combination was uncomfortably rich so we’ll just stick to the asparagus (Dhs47) next time.

The quality of ingredients has evidently been a focus for the 11 Woodfire team, but the menu is pricier than we expected for a neighbourhood restaurant. Still, if you’re into grilled dishes, you won’t be disappointed with the choices here.

11 Woodfire, Jumeirah 1, Mon closed, Tue to Fri 12pm to 4pm and 7pm to 11pm, Sat & Sun 8am to 4pm and 7pm to 12am. @11woodfire