July 19, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Coming from a steak saturated country, the home of beef and lamb (New Zealand, in case you were wondering), I’ll admit I’ve skirted around Dubai’s top steakhouses in my 18 months of living in the desert. I know a great steak, I can cook a great steak, so it’s often neglected in my dining calendar – but the good things I’d heard about The Rib Room were enough to convince me to take check out this downtown homage to meat.
The dining room is dimly lit with plenty of leather and cowhide on display – classy, but you know you’re in a steakhouse – just what you’d expect from a restaurant called The Rib Room. Emirates Towers has been around a while, but The Rib Room is keeping itself in good shape – sure, I’m itching to make some tweaks here and there to luxe it up a bit (let’s start with some padded tablecloths) but on the whole it fits. The staff do a good job of waiting in the dark wings and springing to action when required without being obtrusive.
The evening gets off to a great start with some delicious cocktails – it turns out whoever is shaking and stirring at The Rib Room knows more than just a thing or two about how to make a good drink. Given how many times venues have been let down by their mixologists lately, this is a big tick in The Rib Room’s favour right off the bat. We tried three and they were all fab. For wine, we enjoyed the Domaine Anne Parent Bourgogne 2011 which was light, a bit too acidic for me to start, but we asked for it to be decanted and it opened up nicely with a bit of time. FYI they have fab Riedel decanters on hand (but of course) so do ask for your red to be decanted. Or your chardonnay. It’s a pretty extensive wine list, with prices starting at 175 per bottle which is really great to see. Nice to see some kiwi wines on there, though I’m not quite sure how they managed to offer a 2017 NZ Chardonnay when we’re in July 2016. I should have checked out the cellar, perhaps there’s a secret wine time portal in there I haven’t heard about?
What we tasted:
PHILLY CHEESESTEAK DUMPLINGS – 80
Shallot crème fraîche, fruit ketchup
PRIME ANGUS BEEF TARTARE – 95
Pickled shallot, mustard, rustic bread
“RIB” ROOM GUACAMOLE – 75
lime, chili, garlic, shallot, cilantro
ROASTED BEET BURRATA – 65
Apple, quinoa, kumquat, merlot
The dish I was most excited about, and the standout of the starters, was the Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings. How can one resist this quirky combination? I didn’t taste the fruit ketchup, but the dumplings were very tasty. The flavour did get a little masked when you added the yummy shallot creme fraiche however, as philly cheesesteak is quite mild in flavour – so be judicious with your application of the sauce. I’d definitely recommend you try this one.
As for the guacamole – I don’t see how it fits here, and it really was the odd one out on our table. It was pretty good guac, a touch more salt really would have made it pop, but pretty good. The best part of this dish was the deep fried pita triangles that accompanied the main event – these were absolutely fab and much better than just standard corn chips. It’s a top seller apparently so hey, don’t fix what ain’t broke, but I’d rather see this dish elevated with a twist if you really must have it on the menu in a restaurant of this calibre. It seems like something better kept to the bar to me.
I’ve been eating a lot of tartares around the world lately (you’ll see my top tartare list up very soon), and this one was not too bad texturally but too garlicky for me. Also the portion is more on the petite side, but it is prime Angus beef and we are at a steakhouse after all so I can understand that, quality is always better over quantity. I’d swap out the bread, which was thick and tough, for rectangles of the deliciously crisp deep fried pita crisps that were served with the guacamole. When these are combined it totally takes the dish up a notch.
The guacamole might have been a misfit, but the burrata was just perplexing. I really don’t feel the accompaniments did anything to lift the burrata, in fact it felt like two halves of two different dishes had been mixed together. The quinoa, the kumquat…pair these with the burrata and they didn’t elevate each other – they were more pleasant separately than together. This dish needs a total rethink. There are so many fantastic ingredient combinations that make burrata sing, there’s no need to try and push too hard to be different when it comes to this classic.
There’s a giant menu on offer here for starters and this much choice can be paralyzing – I’d probably trim the entrees by about half if I could, and focus on really making those dishes knockouts.
BBQ PORK SPARE “RIBS” – 145
Mexican grilled corn, watermelon
Ribs, how I love thee. When a restaurant is called The Rib Room, how can one leave without sampling the titular temptation? When the plate of “ribs” arrives (why the heck have they got ribs in quotation marks? These are clearly well, actual ribs? I’m puzzled…) the first thing we notice is that there are two large racks – points for serving size here, this dish is pretty good value by Dubai standards. They’re rather well, ok, extremely saucy. And overcooked texture wise (to my taste), but still tasted pretty good. I guess if you love your ribs falling off the bone more casserole style (and plenty of people do), then you’ll love these. I have to say, the more experienced I’ve become in tasting barbecue, smokehouse meats and ribs, the more my tastes move towards the BBQ judging standard.
By competitive BBQ judging standards, a rib should hold a ‘watermelon bite’ when you take bite out of it – the bite marks should be visible, and meat should pull off the bone with a gentle tug.
I like a good bark on my ribs and these were more like saucy pulled pork. If you’re going to put a dish in the title of the restaurant, it had better be a showstopper. I’d love to see The Rib Room get in an expert, increase the number of rib dishes on the menu and make them a signature – that would definitely set them apart in this competitive Dubai market and something I’d come back time and again for. Ribs have a way of making you crave them.
The ribs were served with yummy corn that definitely tasted like an authentic Mexican varietal just as advertised, and the creamy sauce on top was delectable. The watermelon was an interesting touch, and certainly refreshing after the ribs. Both were a little tricky to eat though so I’d like to have seen these elevated by breaking them down into a petite salad that combined the two with perhaps some cilantro and onion instead.
Australian Wagyu Beef
BONELESS RIB EYE 8+ 400G – 565
TENDERLOIN 6+ 300G – 595
SWEET POTATO FRIES – 25
CRISPY FRIED ONION RINGS – 30
JUMBO GRILLED ASPARAGUS – 35
TRUFFLE MAC & CHEESE (TRIO – 35)
Now, as Rihanna would say, this is what we came for. We left the steak selection up to the experts, and got busy deciding on some sides from the comprehensive selection – in some ways, sides are my happy place at steak restaurants. Selecting the sides and sauces makes me feel like a kid in a very meaty candy store. My choices were the sweet potato fries (when can a Kiwi resist kumara chips?), onion rings (natch) and the truffle mac & cheese from the mac & cheese trio, just because I can’t go past something with truffle in it.
So let me tell you about these
kumara sweet potato fries – they were amazing! Crunchy, flavourful, with an amazing coating of something special…apparently it’s cajun seasoning, which I never would have picked. They’re just flat out fab and you have to order them. Same goes for the truffle mac & cheese. Being a truffle lover, this should please me rather easily, and it did, but it takes a lot for the hubby to be impressed by something as calorically intensive as mac & cheese (he’s a mac & cheese hater). This one though, with it’s clever orzo replacement for traditional macaroni, put a rather large smile on his face. If it impresses this tough customer, it’s another to add to the must order list.
I’m an onion ring addict, this is well known. The Rib Room’s take however didn’t satisfy my personal onion ring preferences. These were so heavily breaded they were more like a fish finger than an onion ring. Lighten up the coating dramatically and give them less cook time, or just switch to batter preferably, and there would be a marked improvement for my tastes. I loved the presentation though, reminded me of an old school ring toss set.
The Rib Room is certainly a saucy venue…by that I mean they offer a plethora of sauces with which to serenade your meat. Hmm, that sounds a little wrong. Anyway, back to the sauces – seven warm sauces and 11 cold condiments are on offer. Impressive! I also don’t see any mention on the menu of limits or extra charges for sauces so that’s even more impressive, and exactly how it should be when you’re ordering top shelf steaks. Nice one. (My fave was the red wine jus.)
I’ve kept you waiting long enough – I’d better tell you about the steak, right? We were delivered a spectacular specimen -weighing in at 400g with an 8+ marbling score, let me introduce to you, The Rib Room’s Australian Wagyu Boneless Rib Eye. Sounds more like it should be entering a boxing ring rather than my plate – and it definitely packed a punch. It was a knockout. The tastiest steak I’ve eaten, it’s going straight onto my ‘Best Dishes in Dubai’ list.
And that is why you should visit The Rib Room. Truly spectacular steak – you could really taste the juiciness that is a product of the 8+ marbling score. Will I ever be able to eat mere mortal steak again, now that I’ve tasted the wagyu of the gods? I guess it’s just a #firstworldproblem I’ll have to live with. I’ll admit, it wasn’t cooked to the ordered doneness (medium rare was the request, but medium to medium well was the reality) and this did cause much debate and googling of pictures of ‘doneness’ at our table (I won, sorry hubby). This would usually be a no-no for me, but the steak tasted SO good, it really didn’t matter. At all. Rib Room, you should be seriously proud of the steak you’re serving up.
We also tested out a sizeable hunk of tenderloin – 300g with a 6+ score on the marbling scale. Another delicious specimen, this is one for those who prefer less fat on/in their steaks, and it was bang on medium rare It’s a large portion – it felt like there was more to this steak than the rib eye – but that could have been because our stomachs were reaching saturation point. Different people will prefer different cuts, but flavour-wise, the rib eye wins for me hands down and is the cut that’s going on the must order checklist.
ROCKY ROAD ROOT BEER POT DE CREME – 50
Milk chocolate marshmallow dirt, malted ice cream
APPLE PIE CREME BRULEE – 50
Heirloom apples, almond oat taco
A meal of mammoth proportions is now reaching the final leg – desserts. The dessert menu is, I have to say, a bit confusing to understand. The descriptions and combinations are a little wild and wacky, and don’t really seem to explain what the dish actually contains when we ask for some help deciphering it. Take the descriptions back to basics guys and I’d say you’ll see an uptick in uptake. We chose two of the more straightforward sounding dishes, and both were extremely satisfying.
I was impressed to such a high standard of desserts coming out of a steak focussed kitchen – really impressed.
Our dishes had a couple of elements removed due to the extreme care taken around an allergy (great job on this guys), but it really didn’t matter as what we were delivered was exquisite. A warning – both desserts we tried are large serving sizes so save room! The creme brûlée was fantastic, had a great crack to it and delicious topping. The Rocky road dessert (I couldn’t quite figure out how the root beer came into it) had the smoothest, creamiest chocolate mousse I’ve ever tasted – it was otherworldly. I didn’t get the secret to how they achieve this – if you find out, let me know!
There’s certainly a lot of deliciousness on offer at The Rib Room, and I’d definitely recommend it for when you feel like splashing out on a superstar steak – though there are really plenty of great options suitable for all budgets on offer in both the food and wine categories. They delivered a steak I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, and that’s exactly what I look for when I go out – memorable dishes. Well done, Rib Room
(no pun intended).
Have you tried the steak at The Rib Room? What was your favourite cut? Let me know in the comments below!