Review: Gilt at Burj Al Arab
A gilded new cocktail bar is a fitting new addition to one of the world’s most iconic addresses…
There’s something undeniably grand about cruising over the bridge to the Burj Al Arab. Perhaps it’s the prestige of making it through the security gates. Maybe it’s the way the sail-shape hotel facade gets more and more impressive the closer you get. Or it could be the string of supercars that ring the entrance that makes your white Lexus somehow feel rather underdressed. Whatever it is, that journey undeniably piles the pressure on a final destination to delivery a wow-worthy experience befitting of the entrance.
Here to take on that challenge is Gilt, a brand new cocktail bar perched on the hotel’s 27th floor. Replacing the previously appropriately named Gold on 27, Gilt is more toned down than its predecessor, while still dazzling with its ornate interiors. A grand gold bar takes centre stage, colourful bottles and verdant foliage lining the back, fronted by eight bar stools and beyond that, low-lying bar tables in dark sapphire velvet dot the remaining space. Each comes with a feeling of intimacy and seclusion thanks to twinkling curtains of dazzling fairy lights that stretch from the floor to the ceiling. Everything about it oozes date-night appeal.
Guests around us are mostly here for the cocktails, each a careful curation masterminded by acclaimed bartender Thibault Mequignon, sipping from various-sized coupes while listening to the lively DJ beats. Our own choice, an Oseille (Dhs90) is a brilliantly fresh and surprisingly sour infusion of vodka with sorrel, lime, green cardamom and a (thankfully) subtle dash of absinthe. It’s so well balanced we order a second round.
But if you think this is just about the drinks, you’d be mistaken. A concise bar bites menu is equally as playful and indulgent as the beverage menu, and while we skip the caviar (ranging in price from Dhs1,200 to Dhs2,600 for 50g), we share almost all the other small plates.
The lobster bao (Dhs110) is a duo of fluffy salmon-pink bao buns perfectly plated and packed with mouthfuls of fresh lobster topped with a creamy chutney, a sprinkling of greens and a dash of caviar. The fancy French toast (Dhs95) is effectively a melt-in-the-mouth Croque Monsieur with a generous shaving of truffle, while the chicken wings (Dhs75) aren’t the politest bar bites to eat, but we lick every drop of juice from our fingers as we polish off each tender bite. And while it might be very Dubai of us to order the beef tartare (Dhs70, and a dish that now transcends all global cuisines on Dubai’s dining scene), these mouthfuls of flavour-packed deliciousness – with a surprising spicy kick make us more than glad we did.
Whether Gilt successfully draws Dubai’s cocktail connoisseurs to the Burj Al Arab on a regular basis remains to be seen, but for now this new addition to the city’s drinking scene is well worth adding to your circuit.
Gilt, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, daily 6pm to 3am, reservations essential. Tel: (0)4 432 3232. jumeirah.com/gilt