Monday, April 28, 2008

For Never Was A Story of More Woe

The Marina Restaurant
Jumeirah Beach Hotel

tel: 04 348 0000

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more;
Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

Wise words indeed, if only though we were able to fulfil them.

Last Friday with a guest from out of town we decided to go and eat at the ‘Marina’ in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. We also thought that it would be nice to have sunset drinks somewhere outside. So far so good, it was a simple plan, nothing daring or complicated and should have been a doddle to fulfil. What we didn’t count on however, were all the obstacles and hurdles that the staff at the JBH would put in our way in their attempt to prevent us from spending our money in their hotel.

We went upstairs in the hotel to have a drink in ‘Uptown’ to find that it doesn’t open until 1900hrs. So we went back downstairs and tried to get a table out on the terrace of the Dhow & Anchor. Some chance. No, no, nopedy no was all we seemed to get told.

Then we thought we would walk down to the bar on the beach and have a drink there but we couldn’t get past the extremely arrogant and aggressive goons on the bridge despite have a reservation in ‘Marina’ for 2000hrs. So back inside the hotel where we had to queue up to speak with the one unfriendly and morose looking girl manning the restaurant reservation desk. Even though we had a reservation she still wouldn’t give us a pass for the goons until I started doing some table thumping. Finally we get through, walk down to Beachcombers and were greeted by the very first person in that hotel who actually said ‘yes’ to us. It was amazing. All we wanted was to have a sunset drink and ended up being faced by the most obstructive and unhelpful people imaginable.

The ‘Marina’ restaurant is situated at the end of the breakwater in a rather attractive round building but what we couldn’t understand as we pulled up to it was what were all the people doing on the roof and queuing up outside. Well it turns out on Fridays and Saturdays they have big party from 4.00pm onwards and by the time we turned up for the restaurant below it was in full swing.

I like the restaurant inside. Having fought our way through the crowds at the door we were shown to our table. Big fish tanks adorn the walls, and with a huge glass panels on the outer walls offering great views onto the Burj and the JBH it is a good spot to sit.

The ‘Marina’ prides itself on being a fine dining seafood restaurant and I suppose they get most of it right. However, it is hard to relax into the whole setting when all you can hear is the thump, thump, thump from upstairs.

The menu is a complete car crash of flavours, and the person who wrote up the descriptions was given much too much free rein.

What does, for example, “carpaccio of confit tomatoes” mean to you?

I understand carpaccio even though it is actually the name of a dish and not a cooking technique, and I also understand that to ‘confit’ something is to salt and slowly cook meat (normally goose or duck) in its own fat. Now how either of these terms apply to tomatoes is anyone’s guess.

And what about ‘cauliflower panna cotta’?

Hmmmm. Clearly a vivid imagination.

I started with a sampler platter of five little dishes; a scallop, salmon tartar, crab salad, an oyster and a shot glass with a very intense broth and little a piece of fish.

It was not bad, quite well presented but the salmon had been over blended in a whizzer and was very stodgy. The crab salad also had a similar consistency and was a bit ‘dense’.

I followed with an Asian-inspired prawn dish which was okay. The portion was a decent size, the sauce a little on the sweet side but overall I was quite happy with it. It was nothing outstanding, nothing special, but there was nothing you could really fault.

We chatted to the new maitre’d for a while, a very friendly and knowledgeable young chap from France. He informed us that the chef is newly arrived from Japan and that he would be slowly making his mark and some changes to the menu. I think it needs it.

This is not a cheap dining option, the bill for three of us was Dhs 1,700 and we didn’t go mad on the wine at all. This puts it at the very top end of the market here in Dubai so you can imagine how surprised and pissed off I was to find that I was required to queue to use the loo. It seems that there are no toilets upstairs in the 360 nightclub and so all the partygoers would traipse through the restaurant and use the toilets in the Marina. Having to stand in a queue with a bunch of drunk and boisterous clubbers was not exactly what I expected in a so-called fine dining establishment. When I did finally get in there the loos were dirty, there was one poor chap trying desperately to keep up with the cleaning, but with the sheer volume of traffic it was an impossible task. What an absolute and utter disgrace.

Overall I would say that with having to fight the 360 crowds, the completely unacceptable arrangements with the toilets, the mediocre food and the very hefty price tag I will not be returning to this restaurant. In fact given how we were treated overall by the hotel staff throughout the evening we are giving the JBH a wide berth in the future, they clearly don’t want or need our custom so I think we’ll take it elsewhere.


alexander said...

Bloody hell!

i*maginate said...

sorry didn't even read the review. this the round restaurant bott of jum byatch hostel?

I dunnit once.

I didn't like it.

Wow, I am getting good linguistically at reviews!!!

Btw am polishing off the canned pesto in my fridge (SACLA) - if only you'd tell me how to do it myself!

i*maginate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the real nick said...

The only place visiting there is the Pizza shack wotsitsname. It sits directly on the beach just before the breakwater and the pizze are not baaad.

nzm said...

Nick: From memory, I think it's called La Verandah. Agree with you about the delicious pizzas but the beer was never quite cold enough!

We used to like going for the Friday seafood brunch buffet at Marina - not cheap but great food.

We stayed with friends on Umm Suqeim Beach (closest villa to the JBH) and the noise from 360 was atrocious. I don't know how the hotel guests endure it AND pay all that money to stay at the hotel.

The JBH used to be a great hotel - J stayed there for 18 months when she first moved to Dubai. (The Iraq war had just started and she got a great deal on a room in an otherwise empty hotel!) The staff was lovely and they were so sad when she left - she got a huge signed card from all of them and some lovely gifts.

It used to be really great to walk into the place and be greeted with hugs and kisses from all the staff that we knew. We were sad when they all left the hotel - they couldn't stand the new management.

Mars said...

i've heard loads of stories about the unfriendliness of the staff at JBH - right to the point of racism. So don't be surprised.