Axe House is the new restaurant in place of popular-but-short-lived Cocktail Kitchen in the Armada Hotel, so the wife and I thought we’d drop in for a spot of lunch after it was highly recommend by our good buddy Courtney (atozaatar).
It was pretty quiet when we arrived and we were seated in a weird “is it inside or is it out?” area, facing the bar. Our smiley server came over, explained their awesome happy hour (buy one get one free on EVERYTHING on the drinks menu!) and left us to make our minds up.
After much, much, much deliberation from my lovely wife, I selected the short rib, again on the recommendation of A to Zaatar and Nic picked the the Chouh San Choi, which was a Chinese, lettuce cup dish with confit duck.
As the missus was driving, I took one for the team and ordered a coffee instead of availing the discount booze. After about 10 minutes my drink arrived in the smallest mug you’re ever likely to see – and half full (or half empty as this pessimist saw it!). I’d requested some hot milk that didn’t arrive, so they went back to get some more which took another 10 minutes – by this time, my originally quite-warm coffee had turned lukewarm. A manager came over so I asked what the deal was, as the restaurant was pretty quiet and he admitted that their coffee machine is broken, so give me one from his Nescafe Gusto machine. Not happy about paying 25ish AED for mediocre capsule-coffee, he kindly removed it from my bill.
The food arrived and the short rib was as good as promised. It was a very generous portion to say that it comes from their appetizer menu, was perfectly eatable with just a fork, and the craft beer sauce was also inspired. Sadly, the duck that my wife had was not in the same league – hell, not even in the same sport. The duck came in these rubber-band-like (in taste, texture and look) strands and were pretty much inedible. We quickly returned them and my wife re-ordered the short-rib; sensible. We also got a couple of portions of sweet potato fries, which were also good.
I don’t think it’s going to be a place that I’m going to go visit when I’m hungry for anything other than their amazing short-rib (not that that’s not a bad thing!). I’ve seen similar items priced double at other restaurants (and not as good), so hoping they stick to their pricing strategy. They’re located in a good, up and coming area (JLT) and their happy hour is excellent, so I’m sure I’ll be down again soon, to sample their wide variety of beers.
FOOD: 9/15 – The duck was woeful, but the short-rib made up for it in a big way. Good sweet potato fries too.
SERVICE: 9/15 – Made a mistake with coffee order and were slow to rectify. Manager dealt with complaints admirably though.
DRINKS SELECTION: 5/5 – One of the best beer offerings in town.
AMBIANCE: 3/5 – It was pretty quiet, but the music was cool. We did go midweek for lunch, so weren’t expecting it bustling.
DESIGN: 2/5 – Was a bit of a re-hash from the Cocktail Kitchen days and is perhaps a bit on the basic side for my tastes.
VALUE: 5/5 – Fantastic happy hour deal and the short-rib is exceptionally priced.
TOTAL: 32.5/50 – I wouldn’t really say this place is quite there just yet, but the things they do well – they do really well. The short-rib and beer list/happy hour are enough for me to be a happy, returning customer.