Friday, 26 September 2014

JW's Steakhouse, Dubai

When it opened, something like 20 years ago, JW's Steakhouse was the place to go in Dubai. I kid you not. People flocked to the joint, they had to put tables outside under the staircase. You'd have to make reservations weeks in advance. Every weekend, it roared with the voices of diners, jangled with the clangour of crockery and clink of holloware. Harried staff plied the packed tables - and if you ate there often enough (or were just unbelievably important), your name was engraved on a brass plaque and glued to the top of a table.

I reviewed it for The Fat Expat seven (!) years ago:
Consistency is the true high point of this, Dubai's oldest and most established steakhouse. It's just consistently damn good, time after time after time. There are flashier joints, there are more expensive joints. But nowhere will you find a safer pair of hands.
Don't worry about the slightly naff 'brass' plaques on the tables with regulars' names on them: it's just part of the 'gentleman's club' atmosphere: dark woods, deeply studded green leather high back club chairs and beef bone napkin rings, along with the steer decorated underplates, are all part of the Texan Men's Club feel. This is not a place to take vegans, although they might serve you one if you agree to have it done rare.
I loved it then, and I love it now. We went there last night with friends. We sat at the bar and did drinks - they make a fine Martini, served in a conical, stemless glass placed into a wee glass bowl of crushed ice.

The studded leather chairs have gone, for some reason, to be replaced by a more staid green plastic upholstery, but they still nestle you like an astronaut's jumpseat. The napkins are still buttonholed and threaded through un-PC bone rings. The tablecloths are still runners. The Swan pub has gone, a terrible shame.

An amuse bouche of warm foie gras slides in front of me. Oh my word. Golly. Kapow.

The lobster bisque is still on the menu. Let's face it, there'd have been a major outbreak of senseless violence that would have made Grand Theft Auto seem like a LaLaLoopsy convention if it wasn't.

It's served to you with cream dropped in it: a dark, textured and rich soup marbled with cream and dotted with delicate little dots of lobster meat. Flambeed brandy is poured over it. And on the side are parmesan shavings, marie rose sauce and flat croutons to bear the combinations of stuff you choose to precede/antecede each spoon of rich soup. My Last Meal would include this soup.

Mind you, my Last Meal would make Mr Creosote blanch.

They have a wine that has long amused me - and which I order every time I go there without fail: Goats Do Roam. It's a South African Plsssp to the French (I looked the word up, you have to pronounce it properly) and it's a fine drink, too.

That went - as it always does - nicely with my 7 ounce fillet (medium rare), onion rings, gratinated potato (they used to do dauphinoise, sadly now lapsed), baby spinach in garlic, spring vegetables and asparagus in cheese sauce. Others had 16oz T-bones (glorious) and stuff.

They do a 32oz T-bone. One day. When I'm bigger.

All this richness and finery comes with bearnaise and pepper sauces. Order extra, you get piles of extra. This is a good thing.

The steak's perfect. It's just stopped mooing, it's tender and it tastes like a dead cow. The other stuff is bang on - hot, crispy, juicy, green, fluffy, crunchy, sweet, piquant, unctuous. Umami is in there too, but it better get to the back of the queue.

There's a lot of nomnomnom going on at this point. The place is 75% empty, the table next ours consists of three noisy Levantine ladies, all 'I swear to God you don't know me if you have seen what this guy did next' bluster. They don't even manage to cut through the food bliss going on.

At Dhs 2,300 for four, the bill's half what you'd pay - and we did not stint, I can assure you - at the priceless Traiteur (Park Hyatt), let alone cruddy places like Rhodes', Pierre-White's, the Rivington or The Ivy. The meal was utterly faultless, the service flawless. We were at home, fed like kings and totally comfortable throughout.

We didn't do dessert. There was no point. Chocolates arrived in a steaming dry-ice laden bowl. And in an instant we're upstairs in Hofbrauhaus.

And that, my dears, is an entirely different story...

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