Pub food in the UK has always had a bit of a bad reputation, with soggy bottomed pies and limp fish and chips; however, about 10 years ago this started to change with the advent of the gastropub. A number of old school pubs reinvented themselves. Gone were the beer soaked carpets and sticky wooden tables; enter lush furnishings, oak paneling and craft beers.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a proper English pub, they are a great place to meet people and enjoy a pint and packet of crisps in a casual environment. However, if you are looking for a bit more of an upmarket night out, then the gastropub is for you.
Dubai has been steadily assembling a great collection of English themed restaurants and all deliver top-notch British fare, served up in modern restaurants in our lovely city. Perfect for the “cold” winter nights.
So here are our top 5 gastropub locales in Dubai and a few of their interesting dishes that we recommend:
Pie, Mash & Liquor at The Black Lion – The H Dubai
Most people are used to the pie and mash combination. A steaming, golden-topped dish, filled with gravy rich meaty goodness. The Black Lion serves a delicious beef and onion pie; with something some people may not be familiar with, Liquor.
This does not mean a pie with a shot of cognac. Liquor is a traditional London sauce; originally made from the water left over after the of stewing eels and parsley. Nowadays, shops rarely use eel water (thank goodness) and instead just a stock using parsley to create that lovely fresh green colour. So if you are looking for a traditional taste of London then this is a super option. Plus, who can ever turn down a meat pie?! Not us.
The Black Lion also has a street food menu, with a variety of unique and interesting bites. So tuck into a battered sausage – a staple at the British fish and chip shop -but far more refined. Follow that with an Aberdeen Angus hamburger, because Scottish beef is definitely one of the tastiest. This can all be enjoyed in a relaxed setting, with great food and music.
Fish & Chips and Mushy Peas at The Dhow and Anchor– Jumeirah Beach Hotel
Direct from the Midlands is good ol’ fashioned fish & chips with a side order of mushy peas. The Midlands includes Birmingham and Wolverhampton; their specialty being the mushy pea. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! The Dhow and Anchor has English pub grub down to a tee, in an inviting restaurant with a spectacular view. The fish and chips are incredibly tasty, with crispy battered Scottish Haddock, vinegary peas and a creamy tartar sauce.
For a lighter lunch you should try the Ploughman’s platter, a traditional English cold lunch it dates back well over a hundred years. Eaten by Ploughmen during their lunch break, it is still highly popular all over the UK. The Dhow and Anchor has put their own unique spin on it with Welsh Cheddar, Scotch eggs and smoked ham. Tasty and perfect for a quick lunch.
Butter chicken curry at JB’s – Amwaj Rotana, JBR
A traditional English dish is a curry…yes we know that sounds strange, but it is true. Indian food is so ingrained in our culture that the usual question on a Friday evening is “should we go out or get a take away curry?” JB’s on JBR serves a wonderfully aromatic butter chicken curry, complete with fluffy rice and poppadoms; paired up with a nice pint it really is a taste of England (and India).
JB’s has a range of tasty dishes from its meter long sausage with mustards and relishes to steak and chips. They have an excellent deal on their bar bites, choose a tasting plate of 3 for a discounted price. I can fully recommend the messy prawns; they are large and meaty with a strong garlic sauce, seriously tasty!
Bangers & mash at The Gramercy – DIFC
The Gramercy is a well-established Dubai favourite with an excellent reputation and great food. The menu is enticing with options such as duck confit and moules frites (mussels and chips). All these are good options, however, for a taste of Britain the bangers & mash are the way to go. In Dubai style, they offer pork free beef sausages, with dark onion rich gravy, the lump free creamy mashed potato is the perfect accompaniment.
Small history lesson: why are sausages called bangers? During World War II British sausages had so little meat in them due to rationing, they were filled with meat scraps, cereal and water. So used to make a great deal of noise when cooking. In our usual nostalgic fashion, the name stuck. But, thankfully the quality has vastly improved!
Traditional Sunday roast at Reform Bar and Grill– The Lakes
A long standing gastropub favourite amongst the expats, Reform Bar and Grill is a lovely escape from the city. Nestled in the centre of The Lakes, by the waterside, it is a perfect option at any time of the year. Sociable for the adults and fun for children, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.
And as if this wasn’t enough, there is also a fantastic menu with genuinely tasty grub. Most popular is their “Sunday Roast” (on Saturday of course). Complete with succulent roast beef, full of flavour gravy and massive Yorkshire puddings, this is great when you are craving something from home (if you are from the UK), and also an enjoyable experience if you aren’t.
Reform Bar and Grill has an extensive menu and we do recommend trying a selection of their smaller bites, great for sharing. The sausage rolls are particularly tasty and to finish there is nothing better than a nostalgic bowl of jelly and ice cream, given a modern day twist with scrumpy and Devonshire fudge ice cream.
Living in Dubai there is such a fantastic range of international food available, so head over to one of these restaurants and give English gastropub grub a try!