There’s a relatively new smokehouse in town! Since purchasing a kamado BBQ, I’ve been pretty obsessed with the art of smoking meat so I was extremely excited when I received an invite to review Blacksmith at the new Wyndham, Dubai Marina. The wife and I headed down to check out the self-proclaimed, “Dubai’s First Real Smoke House!” to see if they could top the reverse-seared rib-eye that I produce at home!
After initial confusion after entering the terribly-signed hotel, we made our way to the lifts that take you up to Blacksmith’s floor. Subsequent confusion followed when the staff didn’t have details of our reservation, but eventually, we got sat down and sorted out.
Interiors-wise, the restaurant has a cool vibe. Leather-looking chairs, exposed brickwork, lots of wood – perfect for a smokehouse. The music was a refreshing change for Dubai, with 70s rock being pumped through the sound system throughout the evening.
The first thing noticeable when viewing the menu was that the pricing definitely fell into the more “affordable” zone – especially for the Marina. You can pick up a bottle of Brewdog for the very reasonable 35 AED (the average price is around 49 AED I’ve found) and the Happy Hour has even better deals, with 23 AED for two glasses of wine from 5-8pm. We settled with a glass of wine for my better half and a maple syrup-infused Old Fashioned for me.
The Old Fashioned was sublime, the sweetness of the maple syrup cut through the smokiness of the bourbon perfectly. One of the best examples of this classic that I’ve had in town, no doubt.
I’m not a fan of overly-large menus, so the concise, cohesive, on-brand, two-page menu was pleasing to see. There are many delicious, hearty dishes to choose from but after much deliberation, we opted for the Mac & Cheese. Chicken Tenders and Chilli with Texas Toast starters with the Smoked Rib Eye steak for me and the BBQ Apricot Duck Breast for the mains.
The food arrived in a timely manner and we tucked into our selection of starters. The Mac & Cheese was excellent; the pasta not too mushy, the cheese stringy and err cheesy with a tasty burnt top, it was a delicious way to start the meal.
Unfortunately, the tenders were a miss. They arrived at our table looking a little dark and overcooked which was confirmed when we bit into them. They were very dry and after one, we were both done.
The chilli fared much better though! The addition of brisket gave the dish a delicious smoky finish and the crunch of the toast married the dish together well. I could have happily have had a big bowl of it for my main.
Talking about mains, they were up next and this is what they looked like:
The duck dish was cooked nice and pink inside, but the menu states that the skin would be crispy, which it wasn’t at all. It was rendered so wasn’t chewy, but it’s a little disappointing when you’re expecting the crunch you get with perfectly cooked duck.
The steak was cooked medium-rare as requested. It was a touch fattier than I hoped, indicating probably not the most premium cut of ribeye I’ve eaten, but the smoke was captured in the delicious flavour of the meat. The chips were pretty average – tasting like they’d just come from a bag in the freezer rather than being made in-house.
Both dishes came with a side of BBQ Beans which were tasty and again had a pleasant smokiness but the coleslaw lacked a little punch and seasoning, a tad bland overall.
Throughout the evening, service was to a good standard – we had to wait maybe a little longer than expected for our main course (around half an hour after the starters), but the servers were all friendly, efficient and made us feel very welcome and looked after.
We finished off with their signature dessert, which is an amalgamation of the three desserts on the menu. I’m not a massive sweet fan as it is and have been spending the summer trying to shed some timber, but it was everything you want from a naughty dessert – chocolately, crunchy, creamy, calorific.
We asked for the bill and were both pleasantly surprised that a two course + shared dessert + a few drinks came in well under 1,000 AED. A rarity it seems these days! We were given a pleasant send-off and left with our tummies full and thirsts quenched.
FOOD: 11/15 – Most dishes were tasty, but a couple of cooking issues (duck not crispy as per menu/tenders overcooked) meant the score could be higher
SERVICE: 13/15 – Other than the mains coming out a little slow, the whole team were friendly and helpful and worked with smiles on their faces.
DRINKS SELECTION: 3.5/5 – A strong drinks menu with some good cocktails and great pricing, however, a few more wines would be nice as I was a craving a nice Malbec to have with my steak.
AMBIENCE: 4/5 – We both loved the 70s rock music playing in the background and even though it wasn’t overly busy, the diners inside the restaurant all seemed to be having a good time.
DESIGN: 4/5 – Tables are spread apart enough to feel like you’re not cramped in and the the overall design is very cool and appropriate.
VALUE: 4.5/5 – There are not many places where you can get a good craft beer for 35 AED and with the excellent happy hour deal and reasonably priced food, it’s definitely one you can do on a bit of a budget.
TOTAL: 40/50 – Overall, it certainly wasn’t the greatest meal ever but it was fun to visit somewhere a little different. The smoking technique brings some bold flavours to a majority of the dishes and with the pricing very much competitive for Dubai Marina, it’s definitely worth a visit for the ambience and value.