Inside Leña, chef Dani García's soon-to-open Dubai steakhouse
Opening this December, Leña is a haute steakhouse from one of Andalusia’s top culinary disruptors…
Dani Garcia is a chef that isn’t afraid to make bold moves. In 2018, just 22 days after his eponymous Dani García Restaurante in Marbella earned its third Michelin Star, the Andalusian chef patron gathered his team to announce that the restaurant would be closing at the end of the 2019 season. His reason? As the chef bid farewell to fine dining, he turned his attention to making casual Spanish cuisine, and delivering it to diners across the world.
In the years that have followed, Groupo Dani Garcia has rolled out cool tapas bar Bibo and relaxed Mediterranean restaurant Lobito Del Mar to locations in Madrid, Marbella and Doha. He’s also created concepts including a swish rooftop brasserie, Dani, on the rooftop of the Four Seasons Madrid; and Casa Dani, a tribute to his Andalusian roots serving up the flavours of Southern Spain in New York.
But as well as casual fare, Dani Garcia has created sleek steakhouse Lena, a homage to the finest products and techniques. For its first international opening, Leña will debut in Dubai, marking the third global location for the brand, which is currently located in Marbella and Madrid, a move that the chef tells What’s On, finally feels right. “In the last 10 years i’ve been coming here for vacation every year, and I’ve never felt like it was the right moment, until now,” he says.
The Marbella restaurant was recognised as the most beautiful restaurant in the world in the 2021 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. And, if the renders are anything to go by, we expect some pretty wow-worthy interiors when the brand opens in Dubai later this year.
Slated to welcome guests from this December, Dani Garcia has chosen St Regis Gardens for his first Dubai venture. Alongside Leña, the Dubai venue will also feature Garcia’s return to fine dining with an iteration of the 14-seater Smoked Room, an intimate chefs table that pays homage to the art of grilling. Here, guests are served a Fire Omakase menu, with each dish revolving around the essence of smoke.
Back to Leña, and a flame-inspired design leads the aesthetic of this contemporary dining space. Guests are welcomed into an impressive bar and lounge area, which then moves through into a decadent dining space backed by an expansive open kitchen. The pièce de résistance is the outdoor terrace, with seating for 140, that gazes out over the Palm Jumeirah.
“Leña was born when I closed my three Michelin Star restaurant, we opened it in that space. I wanted to do something special but accessible. So we decided to do a charcoal grill restaurant, a steakhouse but a steakhouse 2.0,” chef Dani explains of his concept. “When I bring it to Dubai, it’s a steakhouse 3.0. It’s focused on the grill and on the charcoal, with lots of natural ingredients; vegetables and meat, but we’re also introducing charcoal-grilled seafood and fish. It’s a very natural cuisine with a lot of heart and soul.”
While Leña might be the first Dani Garcia restaurant in Dubai, it’s unlikely it will be the last. “If Leña is as successful as we hope, for sure we’re going to see more concepts of our company here,” he explains. “Bibo could be great somewhere on the beach, or La Chambre Bleue, our Mediterranean restaurant could be great too,” he adds.
Leña, St Regis Gardens, Palm Jumeirah, opens December 2023. @lenadubai.dg