I’ll admit – I didn’t head to one of Dubai’s biggest nightlife hotspots and expect a fantastic culinary experience, but places have surprised me before, so after receiving a kind invite from atozaatar to join her and The Luxeologist, the wife and I went with an open mind to the famous 360° bar in JBH.
We arrived and went through the whole rigmarole of all being ID’d (despite us all being on the north-end of 28) and then were led to a small, high table, with backless stools surrounded by smokers and ludicrously loud music – not really the environment you want to enjoy your dinner! We asked if we could sit at an actual table so they went and tried to throw a group off one of the more “dining-friendly” tables, but we felt bad so said no, and made do with sitting inside.
I think looking back, it was probably a poor move on our part, as the venue is all about the party atmosphere with the feeling of being out to sea – so being in its dark, neon-lit underbelly was far less glamorous (at least we could actually talk to each other, eh!). We all wanted to catch up though, so we settled down and ordered some drinks. This was the brunch offering:
Firstly, the service was more “miss” than “hit”. Despite us being one of the only ones in the restaurant downstairs, it was a constant effort to try get more drinks and the server seemed more interested about us remembering his “amazing eyes” than his abilities to be a good host. We also had to repeatedly ask for cutlery.
The “1st Round” consisted of sushi platters and dim sum baskets; we weren’t sure if it was the horrid neon lighting everywhere, but all the dishes just looked orange. I recently compared the sushi at the JW to “standard take-away sushi”, well, this was downgraded even further to the “supermarket” sushi category. Yes, it was edible, but didn’t taste fresh, the dim sum was rubbery and the only above-average element was the vegetarian option that Zoe had.
The “2nd Round” of chicken wings, grilled lamb racks, crispy shrimp balls, vegetable spring rolls and corn on the cob didn’t fair much better. The crispy shrimp balls tasted like they’d been bought frozen from a cheap supermarket, the spring rolls tasted like they’d been bought frozen from a cheap supermarket, the lamb kofta tasted like they’d been bought frozen from a cheap supermarket, the corn on the cob tasted like they’d been bought frozen from a cheap supermarket – and were horrendously overcooked to the point of mush. I don’t even remember the chicken wings, but in fairness, the lamb was decent. Pink in the centre and well cooked. 1/6 ain’t good though.
The desserts were equally disappointing. Hard chocolate brownies, marshmallows and “lemongrass” watermelon aren’t really my idea of a solid end to a brunch (well, I guess the solidness did come from brownies). It was all just very low-effort overall.
I think in all fairness, the venue is never going to be about the food and is not priced badly at 295 AED. It’s definitely not the kind of place to go if you’re a foodie, but would probably satisfy a post brunchee who wants to carry on the party at a premium venue on a budget.
We all left pretty dissatisfied, all of the opinion that we wouldn’t be going back any time soon.
FOOD: 5/15 – Well below average, the only redeeming feature being the lamb chops.
SERVICE: 7/15 – Slow service, despite the restaurant being quiet and was a mission to get cutlery.
DRINKS SELECTION: 2.5/5 – I didn’t have the wine, but the other diners commented on it being a very, very cheap one. All the cheap spirits and only Corona as a beer option. They do include a couple of cocktails though.
AMBIANCE: 2/5 – Far too loud and smoky to enjoy the brunch outdoors. Not for me at all.
DESIGN: 3/5 –The neon lighting is horrendous downstairs but the venue itself is cool and iconic.
VALUE: 3.5/5 – For a “high-end” venue, 295 AED for three hours of drinking and nibbles isn’t bad value at all.
TOTAL: 23/50 – There’s not really much more to add! It’s not my scene so it’s hard to dismiss it too much from an “atmosphere” perspective, but it’s definitely not one to visit if you’re after some good food!