Is it all aboard or all at seas for the restaurant housed in the legendary liner?
At a time when Dubai’s dining scene is seeing trends of high-spec interiors and experimental menus, The Queen’s Grill has gone for an altogether simpler approach, by opting to soak up grand tradition. And tradition doesn’t come much grander than the QE2, the legendary luxury liner that houses The Queen’s Grill fine-dining restaurant.
The QE2 – which re-opened its doors in Dubai earlier this year, after a decade of being docked in Dubai – comes with history, well, by the boatload, and The Queen’s Grill aims to play on those traditions, with the kind of authentic dining the grand old ship would have hosted throughout its illustrious career. The original plaque ahead of entering the restaurant warning that men must wear a dinner jacket is a lovely, nostalgic touch, and although a diner jacket is not essential, it’s worth nothing that a jacket is.
Much of the décor is still the same as it was when the ship was sailing, with white table cloths covering the tables in the split-level restaurant, which is carpeted throughout in a deep maroon and dotted with old fashioned service stations. Music played softly in the background, though it’s quiet hum is fast replaced with a thin, welcome layer of chatter as the intimate restaurant fills up.
There are two menus: a six-course tasting menu for Dhs375, or a vegetarian six course tasting menu for Dhs275. Four of the courses you pick from a selection of two soups, three starters, three mains and three deserts, while the amuse bouche and sorbet come compliments of the chef.
On our visit the amuse bouche is a small piece of spicy, tender beef complimented with fruity flavours of mango salsa which leaves us wishing for another few mouthfuls. It’s swiftly (slightly too swiftly) followed by another fantastic dish: a rich seafood smelling bisque that our waiter pours over two crispy scallops. Pan-seared foie gras follows, plated on a balsamic reduction with compressed pear that we heap onto a lightly toasted brioche.
While service of the first three courses feels a bit rushed, the pace slows as mains arrive. Our choice – braised beef tenderloin – is a table-wide hit. The meat is rich and tender, and we smother it in a parsnip puree that has been enriched with vanilla, and devour all the fondant potatoes at lightening speed.
A refreshing sorbet of white chocolate and goats milk is a welcome break from the rich flavours of each dish, ahead of the arrival of dessert – which is one of the prettiest plates we’ve seen at a Dubai dining table. A deconstructed version of a lemon meringue is the perfect balance of crunch, sweet and sour, and we have to try our hardest not to lick the plate clean.
While The Queen’s Grill isn’t the kind of restaurant you would dine at on a weekly basis, thanks to great service, top quality dishes and rich history, it’s definitely one to add to your culinary Dubai bucket list.
The Queen’s Grill, The QE2 Dubai, Port Rashid, daily 7pm to 11.30pm, Dhs375. Tel: (04) 526 8888. Qe2.com