Can this Nice Guy finish first?

A ‘no-photos’ sign. Wooden panelling. Dim yellow lights. A composite homage to the era of mob-run bars in West Hollywood, The Nice Guy opened its doors at Jumeirah Emirates Towers last year. The vintage interiors and American-inspired Italian dining proved an instant hit, and now the restaurant has a new addition to its weekly offering – a Saturday brunch with packages starting at Dhs399. What a nice excuse, we thought, for a return visit to the venue.


We’ve pulled up seats at a booth along the wall, and although it’s just gone midday, inside the central dining lounge’s deliberately cavernous, low-lit and windowless clutch – you’d be hard-pushed to notice. The session starts with an aperitif, our party orders a tajin-laced tequila-based cocktail, the spicy sienna – a house signature, which is a finessed twist on a spicy margarita, alongside the dark and brooding passion fruit mocktail, dusk ‘till dawn. They arrive at the table just ahead of the bruschetta and ricotta pancake entrées. While the bruschetta was light and fresh, it was the pancakes that truly shone. Soft, luscious, and proudly parading orange custard and shards of honeycomb, this for us, was a standout dish.


With drink and dishes in full fervent swing, the band strikes up and takes our tapping toes on a trip to Havana. It’s busy and vibey but in a compartmentalised way, with guests enjoying the relative privacy of their individual booths. Though we weren’t ready to move on just yet, we select our mains – a barbecue Impossible meat pizza, whole grilled branzino and a ribeye steak. Among the three, the grilled branzino was our fondest foil. Seared in yuzu kosho, a Japanese citrus chilli paste and topped with a light herb salad and tangerine oil, the simple sea bream was a riot of fluffy fish flesh and deep aromatic twangs.

It’s only right to end with dessert. We recommend getting the seasonal sorbet trio and warm cookies served with milk. Though they sit on opposite sides of a sweet dish spectrum, they combine harmoniously to finish the feast. By now, it’s nearing 4pm and our performers have amped the ambience for a final fling with Bailando and Loca. Fellow diners emerge from their cocoon booths and strut their way onto the dance floor. It is, we reflect, a nice way to end a very nice afternoon.

Verdict– Naughty, nice and just the right amount of spice. A great addition to Dubai’s brunching scene.

The Nice Guy, Ground Level, Emirates Towers Boulevard, Saturday brunch, from 12.30pm to 4pm, soft Dhs399; house Dhs499; premium Dhs699. Tel: (0)4 276 9888. @theniceguydubai

Images: Supplied