Sometimes, I like to splurge on a fancy meal at a posh restaurant. Sometimes, I want to get as much food as possible, for as little as possible and last night was one of those nights.
Eat & Drink is a name synonymous with Dubai (at least if you’ve lived here a few years). Established in 1982, branches have been popping up all over the UAE since, and now they boast to have over 20 restaurants in the country. Famous for its rotisserie chicken and live shawarma stations located at the entrance of the shop, I was overcome with excitement when the wife suggested we hit it up after a session at the gym.
The branch we went for was the Umm Suqeim branch, popularized by the local families in the area as the take-away of choice – clearly seen by the jaw-dropping amounts of plastic bags filled with orders, strewn on the table in the foyer of the restaurant. We sat down at the diner tables and were instantly brought the menus and a bottle of water from the friendly host.
The decor of the place reminds me of a large English takeaway; the type of place where you’d pick up some doner meat and cheesy chips at 3am after a debaucherous night out. The food is displayed in photos surrounding the ceiling and there’s a busy kitchen area with lots of people cooking.
The tables are lined with place-mats, proudly displaying recent achievements in a newspaper format called, “Eat & Drink Times”. My favourite achievements being their “most improved establishment in food safety” award from 2011 and a thank you from the “Environment and Sewer Infrastructure Authority” for their grease trap cleaning levels. Who needs Michelin Stars and AA Rosettes eh?
The seating is humble diner seating at its best, silver metal with burgundy spotted cushions. I must commend how well they have kept the cushions – although it may be something to do with them being wrapped in a thick layer of plastic…..brilliant!
Obviously, a lot of what I’m saying is tongue-in-cheek and it would be ridiculous of me to compare the likes of what a humble, local cafe can do in terms of design and aesthetics compared to a restaurant charging more for a starter than our entire evening, especially one so heavily reliant on deliveries and people picking up food to take home, so let’s get on to what matters……THE FOOD!
It’s a rare treat to go to a place like this, as we tend to do most of our eating via home-cooking or when I’m sent to do a review; the wife simply wanted to pick up a roast chicken, some hummous and a couple of shawarmas but I wanted to go balls-deep so we went with a butter chicken curry, hummous, arabic bread, shawarmas, roast chicken, garlic naan bread, fries, a lemon-mint drink and a “Expo 2020” special drink.
The hummous hit the table first and my word was it good. There’s a lot of shit hummous in Dubai sadly; some restaurants make it too thick, others lather it in far too much oil and some just get too heavy on the lemon juice, but this was perfect.
Then came the pièce de résistance – the whole, rotisserie chicken. I was salivating profusely as it looked so, so, SO good. The skin was remarkably crispy and tasted absolutely amazing. Unfortunately though, the crispy skin meant that it had been taken too far and was really dry inside – even scooping it the hummous couldn’t save it.
The shawarmas hit next and as anticipated, were great. The doner chicken juicy, the bread fresh, the sauce tangy, combined with the texture of the fries and crisp pickles it made a delicious few mouthfuls. The butter chicken didn’t hit the mark too much however, the sauce really didn’t do it for us – far too much cinnamon than I’d hope for in a butter chicken and the chicken was in really thin strips (although juicy enough). The garlic naan accompaniment was really special though – exactly how you’d want them, slighty crispy, garlicky, generous, a bit gnarly – heavenly!
The mint lemon was as you’d expect – errmm, lemony and minty (?) and was a refreshing palate-cleanser. My 2020 special was a huge cup of mango juice with some kind of milkshake thing on the top and something else – in all honestly, I haven’t got a clue what was really in it, but it tasted alright!
We’d blatantly over ordered so we got the rest of the hummous, the curry and the naan breads to go, what we ordered could have easily fed a family of four. When the bill came, we were flabbergasted to not have broke the 100 AED mark, all of it came in at 86 AED – fantastic value for the amount of food we ordered.
As a caveat before I post these scores – I try to weigh things in perspective and give an overall mark based on expectations that are based on a number of things – mainly value and they type of establishment it is. This place is not fine dining, and I know that if I was served up this food at a Michelin restaurant the scored would have been much lower, so I’m judging it purely on the basis that it’s a budget, local cafe/takeaway joint.
FOOD: 7.5/15 – Some of the food was brilliant but two of the main elements were flawed.
SERVICE: 10/15 – No frills, the staff polite enough and the food came out at a reasonable pace.
DRINKS SELECTION: 3/5 – Has a good mix of soft drinks / mocktails to choose from.
AMBIANCE: 1/5 – Definitely more of a “pick up and go” rather than a sit down.
DESIGN: 2/5 – I can’t be too harsh, as it’s a cafe meant more for takeaways, but the laminated chair cushions were a bit too far!
VALUE: 5/5 – 86 AED for all that lot? BARGAIN!
For the price, you can’t really go wrong at all. They have a mix of different curries, so perhaps we just picked the wrong one on the day. The naan is good enough to make me want to try another type. The sharwamas and hummous are top notch, so if you’re ever driving past any of their branches, definitely go in a pick up some!