Top 12 alternative dining options to toast the festive season in Dubai
By: FooDiva - Samantha Wood
Isn’t 4,950 dirhams (US$1,348) a tad too expensive for ONE champagne cocktail even if it’s gold dusted? Well that’s what I thought last year, but yet again Burj Al Arab is vying for superlatives with a new festive season cocktail this month blended from nine casks and distilled over the last 15 years, priced at over three times that – a staggeringly high 15,000 dirhams (US$4,085). Believe it or not, it’s still not the most expensive cocktail in the world, but pricey enough for me, and you, I expect. I know Dubai’s just won the rights to host Expo 2020 and it’s a time of much celebration, but we can still do so without breaking the bank.
And that brings me on to two other things the teeny Scrooge in me dislikes about dining out and boozing over Christmas and New Year. One – I hate being told what to eat from an over-priced set menu. And two - ridiculously expensive all-you-can-eat and free-flowing drink deals. I would rather stay home nursing my own champagne cocktail and a turkey leg. So I have scoured my inbox, social media and the web to bring together a selection of Christmas Day lunches and New Year’s eve dinners in Dubai that serve à la carte, ordering what you like. In some cases, you may not tuck into traditional festive fare but at least you won’t get ripped off, and you do get to dine out on two very special occasions. So voilà here’s FooDiva’s top 12 (10 would be too predictable) round-up of alternative meals over the holiday season.
Christmas Day lunch:
La Petite Maison – the hugely popular French-Mediterranean restaurant at DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) serves à la carte from 12 to 3.30pm. Top tip – order the roast chicken stuffed with foie gras 24 hours in advance. T; +971 4 4390505, E; [email protected]
La Serre – the new French-Mediterranean restaurant at Vida Downtown that’s giving La Petite Maison a run for its money is serving à la carte from 12 to 3pm. You can also pre-order festive specials designed for four people to share – like spiced roast duck or roasted lamb rack with Provençale herb crust. T; +971 4 4286969. E; [email protected]
The Rib Room – Jumeirah Emirates Towers’ popular steakhouse serves à la carte from a special festive menu. Santa will even make an appearance, perfect for kids between 4 and 12 years who eat for half price. 12.30 to 3pm. T; +971 4 3198088, E; [email protected]
Tomo by Takahashi – if you’re after authentic Japanese fare exactly like you would eat in Japan, then this restaurant atop Raffles is for you. Even Nobu dines here when in town. And it’s à la carte too from 12:30 – 3:30pm. T; +971 4 3577888. E; [email protected]
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa – an hour's drive on the outskirts of Dubai bordering on Al Ain sits a luxurious desert retreat. Make the most of the day out and meet the bossy oryx and gracious gazelles over an à la carte, al fresco lunch. T; +971 4 8329900.
New Year’s Eve dinner:
Iris Dubai – a Beirut concept, the sexy new rooftop bar-cum-lounge atop the Oberoi Dubai is offering à la carte, and many a reasonably priced cocktail. Best bit is you have a direct view across the world's tallest building Burj Khalifa and its cascading midnight fireworks. 6pm onwards. T; +971 56 9511442.
Madinat Jumeirah – four restaurants in one of Dubai’s most popular dining destinations are serving à la carte. Pai Thai and Italian, Segreto with a minimum spend of 500 dirhams (US$137) per person. And another Italian, Toscana on the souk waterway, plus The Agency wine bar with 300 dirhams (US$82) minimum spend. 7pm onwards. All have direct views across Burj Al Arab so you’ll soak up the shoreline’s fireworks at midnight. T; +971 4 3666730, E; [email protected]
Toko – this Sydney-based modern Japanese restaurant opens this month at Vida Downtown just in time for the festive season, and it’s you guessed it, à la carte. 6pm onwards. T; +971 52 9859449, E; [email protected]
Watatsumi – another Japanese restaurant, this spot at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is a little more intimate. Serving à la carte from 8.30pm onwards. Bag terrace seating – perfect viewpoint across Palm Jumeirah island for what is destined to be the world's largest fireworks display. Yes Dubai is hoping to break a Guinness world record. T; +971 4 3993373, E; [email protected]
I would love to know which option tickles your palate. And if I’ve missed any goodies, please drop me a comment. All are licensed restaurants so you can enjoy a tipple or two, but otherwise if you’re teetotal most cafes in Dubai are serving à la carte. Needless to say advanced reservations are required for all restaurants. If you would prefer to stay at home but not be a slave to your stove, here’s a round-up of caterers.
Let's toast to a fabulous food-filled festive season all round! I am escaping to Galle for Christmas (I hear the cocktails are much cheaper), so if you have any restaurant tips or Sri Lankan blogs I should follow, do drop in with a comment.
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Contest Comments » There are 102 comments
What sets FooDiva's reviews and round-ups apart are her obvious enthusiasm for food, her constant search for the best in dining options and her refusal to take marketing hype at face value. If you want the views of someone truly intimate with Dubai's dining scene, look no further.
Samantha always provides some of the greatest insights into the food and beverage availabilities in Dubai. Just like all her other work, this article too justifies my praise! One to read for all!
Nice selection of restaurants. Definitely worth the try on Christmas Day ;)
As always Samantha - you do a fab job of rounding up keeping a balance between good food and OTT pricing!
I have been following you over the years and this will help me to plan my holidays in Dubai for next Christmas
Samantha's reviews may not always please restaurant owners but she always entertains, informs and educates her readers. Thanks for the top12 alternative festive dining options. Enjoy your Christmas vacation
Well done Foodiva. Am always looking forward to reading your reviews. This one is particularly interesting for choosing places to eat during the Festive Season
What I like about your reviews is that they are impartial and written in a professional way.
FooDiva gives me clear guidance on my journey through the gastronomy universe of bigger-faster Dubai. An excellent orientation where do go and what to expect. And I like Samantha's humorous writing style! Hilarious, but delivering valuable insights. A difficult job very well done! Festive season and happy holiday!
Thanks for the tips Samantha, I'll spend Xmas in NY this year. I just shared with a couple of friends living in Dubai.
This is really informative and has already helped narrow down the options on where to spend Christmas lunch.
Love all the posts! i know everything thats listed will be something i shoudnt miss!
Woah! I hate these set menus so this round-up saves me all the trouble of having to do the research myself. As always FooDiva, you always have a good story to tell. Looking fwd to the Galle round-up .
Really enjoy the food tips and restaurant information. Saves me a lot of time. And I know I am able most importantly to recommend the website to my friends and colleaugues as the information given is always trustworthy and researched properly.
Another good selection of venues where to spend nice time Keep it up
FooDiva is the source I trust and recommend to my friends for choosing dinning places as it's reliable and has honest reviews. Thank you for the great inside!
Foodiva's blogs are always so interesting and useful - I dislike set menus and all you can eat and drink packages so this blog is even more helpful than usual. thanks Foodiva
An interesting review as always. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading your next review!
FooDiva is a great informative source to plan my dining throughout the month and truly gives good advises, every time is a pleasure dining outside based on the feedback and recommendation. I always track any new reviews so I can go and experience it myself. Trusted Blog. Thanks, Ahmed
Great job,Bravo Samantha,i always read your articles .Specially in this one you give good tips for the festive Season. Happy New Year to every body
Honest balanced concise reviews by FooDiva really make a difference to some but not all the eateries I will try in Dubai. Always up to date and like the way Samantha will reference to past performances where necessary.
I thought of what I could add but it's all been said already, I couldn't have put it better than Dave Reeder. Can't wait for the time where Foodiva launches her own Awards, finally impartial accolades for UAE establishments!
Very informative and helpful. It helps so much to try various venues
Used Foodiva as a reference point when planning a visit to Dubai for a group of medical marketing managers and needed some advice on restaurants, great advice and a successful meeting. The food and the ambience at both suggested venues were superb.
I love reading FooDiva. Her writing reflects exactly what her tagline says - impartial and intelligent food reviews. Anything food-worthy, she knows it and is always willing to share her knowledge. She might like her mince pie but she doesn't mince her words - and that's what I admire about her. One cannot visit all haute restaurants in Dubai physically, but one definitely can virtually, via FooDiva's blog :)
Dear Samantha, Your entrys in the Food Diva are always special and very professional. Robert Hugi
Passion personified :) Foodiva's reviews are always a delight to read, her true passion for all things good shines through every time.
These are very precise , well written recommendations which make one's voice easier , without " overpowered " words that some reviewers seem to enjoy and that confuse everybody. Well done and simply , intelligently analyzed. Bernard
FooDiva always entertains me through her colourful and informative posts on venues / menues / tastes. There is a sparkle in her writing which I adore, and I particularly enjoy her Culinary Travel column! Looking forward to your new experiences!
Way to go! Dubai and food - things to do in the city and discover new gems in the restaurant field. A favorite of many (me included) pass time of their leisure. Good reviews like this one save time and disappointing experiences in the search of something new. FooDiva one is a bookmark in my favorites - fresh content.
Foodiva is reliable, professional, trustworthy, impartial and her reviews are fun to read.
Always informative and a good read! My first stop every time.
FooDiva is a very great tool to have some memorable meals around the incredible Dubai ! there is so many places you can eat but not always good ones ! FooDiva will only recommend you the best and most unique places in Dubai and elsewhere too in the UAE
What I like - punchy and too the point and moreover very honest.
FooDiva gives the kind of information that is really helpful. Her reviews are objective and honest. Very important to me is that the information is up to date.
I do read often the reviews of FodDiva and i do find them very interesting and of great fun to read particularly the travel column .
I am excited with FooDiva. I very much enjoy reading it and I usually abstract information and ideas to use at my work area. I wish to congratulate Samantha Wood, because she does not rejoice and discount in her critique reviews. Critiques are constructive and to the point. Keep it that way.
FooDiva is my essential guide and a real god-send, whether we're looking for something corporate or just something for the family. We trust the reviews (which is so important) and find them to be accurate and interesting. There are too many inaccurate blogs and even more of them are boring so 5 stars to FooDiva - and thanks too!
FooDiva is my essential guide and a real god-send, whether we\\\'re looking for something corporate or just something for the family. We trust the reviews (which is so important) and find them to be accurate and interesting. There are too many inaccurate blogs and even more of them are boring so 5 stars to FooDiva - and thanks too!
I have been following Foodiva for a couple of years as her posts are always to the point and not biased. This latest one gives a really good guide to alternatives to the traditional festive season meals and events.
I am new to FooDiva but how refreshing to find an honest view from obviously a true professional - you need someone to trust who says as it is with the heart as well as the taste buds! The writing is concise, unpretentious and at the end of the day is helpful - suits me down to the last nibble.
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FooDiva is the best. I don't make and new restaurant visits without checking FooDiva recommendations first.
Good selection by Foodiva, I personally like the writing style, to the point, very clear, and tells an honest opinion.
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As always very informative,correct, honest and very objective. keep up the good work.
Foodiva is professional, Honest and well documented! Do continue in this way, well done.
Love the list. Buffets are not for Xmas!! Much better to sit and eat at the same time. Went to buffet brunch a couple of years ago. Never again!
Excellent recommendations Foodiva. Been to some of them and few more to explore. Love your passion for food and flair in writing to bring thst across to your discerning readers. Keep it up!
Well written and interesting descriptions and reviews from a most professional approach. These reviews make enjoyable and informative reading for all.
Foodiva is excelling in the art of Food / Restaurant reviewing and not only. Honest yet fair informative yet not too wordy , gives an accurate opinion that helps the reader to choose.
The FooDiva blog is my go to bible when I'm deciding where to grab my next meal. Spending Christmas away from home is tricky - so having some solid reccommendations from a source I trust is greR! Looking forward to nice long Christmas lunch at Zuma!
Foodiva! If I ever come to Dubai, I will rely on YOU!!! Great delivery, fun descriptions, a hoot to read. Great blogger!
I always refer to foodiva each time I visit Dubai before selecting a restaurant. Her write ups are always spot on. I regret that I won't be there over this holiday season to enjoy this selection of a la carte menus!
Keep up the good work Samantha. Truly impartial and intelligent reviews that bring out culinary culture and places with a " Total Meal Experience ".
FooDiva always knows about all the trendy food happenings, and that's not only restaurants - it covers food trends, culinary travel, recipes and much more. FooDiva you should seriously expand into the niche food travel market:)
FooDiva with its professional critic is helping the Dubai Restaurant Community to strive for the best. Keeping High standards is outspoken without being harsh. It’s Entertaining and with sharp eye for details. Wishing you more power in 2014
this information on FooDiva is fantastic and I hope that Samantha will continue an other 100 years :-) to run the FooDiva blog.
The real truth about eating out in Dubai Well worth consulting
Samantha you are to blame for the extra kilos i have put on ! when I read your reviews my mouth waters ,the way you describe the various dishes you try. If you need an assistant do let me know.
having eaten in some of these places mentionned myself, i must say that FooDiva´s reviews are top, in fact outstanding. compliments
Foodiva's knowledge of the Dubai dining scene is 2nd to none and this round-up of places serving a la carte rather than a set menu or buffet is a great idea. Only wish I could afford the Cocktail at Burj Al Arab.
Following food diva I was never disappointed.Never exaggerating .I wish I could follow this festive season some of it's suggestions . Keep working hard Samantha mu:)
With so many amazing Christmas dinner options perhaps I will change my plans for the holidays and come to Dubai!
I think Samantha Wood is a fantastic blogger that with FooDiva gives the most useful information how to chiose the perfect dining experience.
Your Year End Celebration should be nothing short of being the epitome of your dreams and not end up in disappointments. FoodDiva's reviews, knowledge of the locations and integrity of her comments will just help you to have the greatest time of your life.
FooDiva, we love reading your reviews which we find very interesting and informative. Pity we live too far away to visit Dubai, but looking forward to the next time.
What I enjoy most is that FoodDiva's reviews are very reliable and of great information. I love sit down dinners and fine dining (on occasions) and when I get to Dubai I always know where to go! Thank you, Samantha Wood!
I have never been to Dubai, but reading the blogs with amazing collection of food and restaurants makes me desire to jump on the next plane and be here.
FooDiva tells it exactly like it is.. A naming treasure trove of info on dining in Dubai
Food Diva knows the way and shows the way in Dubai! Social Media is not about being social only… it is about having relevant content and context and sharing it with your 'tribe'! Thank you Food Diva, wish we had more of your kind!
This article shows a worldwide problem at Christmas/New Year - inflated prices charged by restaurants who insist on fixed menus and buffets which are usuall only mediocre in quality. At least Fooduva is finding other options for people to choose from. well done.
I have just finished reading the article you have written on the Top 12 alternative dining options to toast the festive season in Dubai. I would like to tell you how much I appreciated your clearly written and thought-provoking article. While much gets written on this topic, your article provides us with a wonderful insight into the culinary delights which can be afforded to us all in Dubai. Thank you for your thorough research and clear writing. I feel that the Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa would be my ideal choice for Christmas day and Iris Dubai for New Year. Well done FoodDiva.
I'm not that often in Dubai anymore but when then I'm Consulting the FooDiva Blog. That way I'm sure to go to the right place. Thanks Samantha
I wouldn't even think of going to a new restaurant in Dubai without first checking Foodiva. Informative and always fair, Foodiva deserves recognition and high praise for broadening the culinary journeys of all those fortunate to be familiar with the service. Thank you, Foodiva! xx
Love FooDiva and all the mouthwatering reviews. Came in very handy upon my recent visit to Dubai. Keep up the excellent work and make us want to got there again.
Foodiva - interesting, entertaining and decent information. Foodiva answers your questions about a restaurant before you even ask them. Well worth consulting before you venture somewhere new (and always worth comparing Foodiva's take on your old favourites too!).
I dont take my chances anymore when it comes to dining out in Dubai. I trust Foodiva.
I have never been to Dubai, but reading the blogs with amazing collection of food and restaurants makes me desire to jump on the next plane and be here.
I am a foodie myself, reading the blog is a very pleasant journey and experience. It makes me hunger to explore more new restaurants and food.
Great review Samantha, all sound so delicious. Thanks for the recommendations.
There are food bloggers...and then there are food bloggers. FooDiva has consistently set herself apart from the growing crowd. Whenever my friends and I want to try something new, her blog is our only reference and she has never disappointed. Best of luck!
Thanks for the advice and expert knowledge, we love reading your blog.
Customers in Dubai are hugely discerning, and to avoid wasting precious time and money on 'hit and miss' food, Foodiva consistently writes insightful blogs to help make the right choices in where to eat, depending on the occasion! This is how to add value to restaurant clients across Dubai!
Great list. Always enjoyed the Rib Room. Toscana and the Agency Wine bar is probably my choice for this season. I look forward to more reviews from FooDiva, particularly about her culinary experiences in Galle.
Straight to the point, true to the heart and a passion for culinary. Samantha's reviews and features are simply mandatory for us Connoissuers
I have never been to Dubai..but this list is really great & will surely refer to it once I'm there! Thank you
Straight to the point, true to the heart and a passion for culinary. Samantha\\\'s reviews and features are simply mandatory for us Connoissuers
Food Diva is a great blog since it is a sincere and honest opinion of the restaurants . Also gives varied and unique information
Professional, knowledgeable reviews at all times. Samantha is objective and tells it as it. I read her reviews on a regular basis and trust her judgement!
Bravo FooDiva i complete agree welldone in setting the records straight
Samanthas reviews are always great and accurate. she always telling things with their name not try to hide anything. keep up the great job.
As “expected” a well-balanced list second to none FooDiva!
Keep up the good work Samantha. Looking forward to reading your next review!
I truly enjoy reading your reviews Samantha. I have not been in Dubai yet, but if I ever go there one day I will certainly follow your recommendations. Well done and please keep up the good work.
The pleasure of reading Samantha's columns is an end to itself, even for readers who may have no intention of visiting the restaurants serving as the critics' muses that week!
I always look forward to reading FooDiva's advise, and this is another example...!
Well done Samantha. I frequently read your informative reviews. Thank you for your impartial advice on what and where to eat and drink in Dubai. When I was there last I have taken your advice given with obvious enthusiasm for good food and felt gratefull as a result. Have a Merry Christmas with good food, drink and company. Cheers!
Your second to none Samantha!!!!Looking forward to reading your next reviews
I have been following the Diva of food on twitter for a couple of years now. As a hospitality professional myself, I find her reviews & blog very informative and unbiased.. On my next visit to Dubai I have already pencilled in my diary a couple of places to visit thanks to Samantha's insight. Keep em coming..!
Well done FooDiva ! Impartial, Knowlegeable reviews of gastonomical heavens. Keep up the good work.
Thank you FooDiva! You're making visiting Dubai to try some of your prefered food choices so desirable,(if that is the right word in English?); you've made me start planning the trip there for 2014 now!