Expat life has plenty of ups (especially in a city like Dubai) but one of the things that always gets us is when we get that insatiable craving for a taste of home. Thank goodness DUKES arrived in Dubai and brought with them Great British Restaurant (GBR). We were invited to experience the restaurant and although it took us a while to coordinate busy schedules, we finally made it over for dinner!
DUKES is a fabulous upmarket hotel chain (their flagship is in London) that states one of their values as “Quintessentially British” and that ties right over to GBR. The menu celebrates classic British cuisine with some surprising twists here and there and suffice it to say, we were absolutely delighted to have such familiar tastes right on the Palm Jumeirah.
Although Pra gets to make her way back to the UK often enough, it’s nice to have a place like Great British Restaurant nearby for those times when hopping on a plane to get a home-cooked meal just isn’t an option.
The interior of GBR is boldly elegant and makes quite the impression. The high ceilings open up the room and offset the black and white flooring and the moody blues and dark charcoal hues used throughout in the tables, seating, and room-dividing curtains.
It’s a massive space with a capacity for up to 390 guests (200 inside, 190 on the terrace) but manages to maintain a cosy feel despite the spacious open plan design.
Ever had that desire for a burger with a normal bun, but then you receive it jazzed up with a brioche bun, caramelised onions, and some special “house” mayo or relish? And you’re disappointed because it’s just too much? Well, in the same way, sometimes you just crave for a British prawn cocktail. Nothing more, nothing less – just simple and clean with the finest ingredients.
Luckily, that’s exactly what you receive at GBR but in surroundings that still allow you to throw on some heels and sip fine wine, perhaps even a delectable Kir Royale.
Just to give you an idea of what you can expect (you Brits are going to love this place, really!), get ready to pack away hearty, familiar classics like Steak & Kidney Pie and Sausage & Mash (appropriately listed under the “Quintessentially British” part of the menu, alongside seasonal treats like Grilled Asparagus with Truffle Emulsion and regional dishes like Bury Black Pudding. They even have a Ploughman’s Platter!
I started with the Prawn Cocktail (of course!), which was served with iceberg lettuce, pickled beets, and Marie Rose sauce. With all honesty, I’ve been getting rather fed up with all of the over-the-top versions with the flairs and flourishes and this prawn cocktail was exactly what I had been craving. It was simple, elegant, and a refreshingly classic take on the starter that has been done a thousand times over in all sorts of fancy ways.
For the main course, out came the Pan Roasted Cod with cauliflower puree, brown shrimps, and pickled cucumber. Again, simple but expertly prepared and perfectly balanced. And it was just light enough to ensure I had room for pudding because I knew it would be remiss of me to pass on the chance to indulge in something that would bring back childhood memories!
And so onto the last course. There was the Steamed Sponge Pudding with raisins, treacle, and marmalade ice cream, and the classic Jam Roly Poly with raspberry jam and warm custard…but in the end, I made the decision to end my delightfully British meal with the Cherry Bakewell Tart with toasted almonds and milk ice cream.
I cannot remember the last time I had the opportunity to have a Bakewell tart! It reminded me of the good old days at the family farm and was every bit as delicious and comforting as it was back then (perhaps even more so because of the nostalgia factor!).
Although the GBR menu will resonate particularly with homesick expats, everyone will find something to love here. This is lovely and familiar British food classed up in the best way possible.
(Want to know more about the person behind this menu? Read our #CaviarCuts Q&A with Head Chef Graeme Dodrill!)
While our visit was focused on the food experience at GBR, Hotel GM Tristan de la Porte du Theil kindly offered some insight into DUKES Dubai.
The concept and design:
“The concept came about as a result of the popularity of the DUKES LONDON hotel with GCC visitors. Whether guests are British, Anglophile or maybe just curious, they are constantly reminded of British influence from the moment they arrive – the soft furnishings, accent pieces, in room amenities or even our hair salon.”
“What sets us apart from the rest, is a combination of our destination, our guest rooms, the superb collection of F&B outlets and our first-class service. We are a beach property, centrally located on the west trunk of Palm Jumeirah – a business hotel with a leisure offering, including our private beach, large infinity pool and the only indoor pool on Palm Jumeirah.
We have 279 guest rooms including 64 suites, plus 98 fully furnished luxurious apartments, which are perfect for leisure or corporate guests alike, while our Ladies-only Liberty Duchess floor features 20 rooms and custom-made Liberty fabrics.
Perhaps our greatest strength, however, is the exceptional service we offer to all our guests, a quality that is synonymous with the hospitality industry in Great Britain. In order to achieve this, our team of 260 associates are put through an intensive training program.”
Three words to describe the brand:
Quintessential British Charm
Three words to describe your audience:
Sophisticated, confident, discerning
DUKES Dubai have nailed it and GBR is completely and delightfully British in every way. We can’t wait to try their roast and have no doubt that their high teas won’t disappoint. (If there’s anything we Brits know how to do, it’s a high tea and a solid Sunday roast!)
Great British Restaurant have managed to keep it simple but sophisticated, serving wonderfully comforting dishes in a delectable environment, all in the middle of Dubai.
Next up…we think we’ll have to book a staycation and indulge in one of their rooms!