2018 proved to be quite a tumultuous year for the F&B industry. With each passing month came a tide of new openings and a number of high profile closures. The year saw the loss of Zahira, The Experience by Reif Othman, Mahiki, Axe House, Novikov, Peyote, Crazy Fish and Toro Toro Abu Dhabi. The latter two establishments closed their doors less than one year into operation.
It’s not all doom and gloom with districts like Dubai’s DIFC, Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island and Al Bateen neighbourhood thriving, seemingly immune to tough times befallen upon the industry. A new year signals a fresh start and a number of new openings to look forward to. Here are the 19 new dining destinations that we’re looking forward to visiting in 2019.
Opa: Fairmont Dubai
Opa takes up residence in the space formerly home to Catch Dubai and transforms the nightspot into a Greek taverna. Entertainment can be found in the form of traditional Greek Zorba dancing and the promise of plate smashing. With Greek cuisine seemingly the current trend, we’re excited for the menu which features appealing dishes such as fresh steamed Sea Bass fillet, with artichoke puree and crushed green olive dressing and a tantalizing Lobster Orzo Risotto.
Location: 1st Level, Fairmont Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Trade Centre Area, Dubai
Emerald Palace by Kempinski
The latest hotel from Kempinski opened on the West Crescent of the Palm Jumeirah at the end of November and boasts a number of exciting dining options. Matagi is a contemporary Pan-Latin steakhouse laid out around a central show kitchen. Villamore promises sophisticated luxury via a combination of Mediterranean cuisine and exceptional views. Finally, Mix by Alain Ducasse is set over 3 floors with inspired French cuisine and some of the most unique interior design elements that we’ve seen in a while.
Location: Emerald Palace by Kempinski, West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Han Shi Fu
Dim sum lovers are bound to be delighted with Han Shi Fu, the latest opening from the team behind Din Tai Fung. Located in the Aloft Deira City Centre, Han Shi Fu promises three distinct dining areas and the menu promises some interesting dishes such Crystal Ray Crab Dumplings, Charcoal Gold Dust Umami Bao, Foie Gras Soup Dumplings, Hello Kitty Custard Cream Bao and Oxtail Bone Marrow. We expect Han Shi Fu to be one of the most in demand new openings of early 2019.
Location: Aloft City Centre, Deira, Dubai.
The new lifestyle destination off the coast of JBR is home to Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel, alongside a number of exciting new dining destinations. First to open was Gordon Ramsay’s Hells Kitchen Dubai. Drawing inspiration from the celebrity chefs television show of the same name, competing teams will serve up signature dishes from the Las Vegas location such as Beef Wellington, eggs in purgatory and sticky toffee pudding! Next up is The London Project, described as “The ultimate curation of London cool, a destination dedicated to the very finest in food, drink, art, culture & unparalleled hospitality.” Finally, Alici is set to open in early 2019 and comes to us from the team behind popular Italian restaurant Il Burro Tuscan Bistro. The new venture promises seafood inspired by Italy’s Amalfi Coast and we simply cannot wait.
Location: Bluewaters, Dubai
W The Palm
The new W Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah is opening with at least two (that we know of) new F&B concepts. Torno Subito is an Italian concept from chef Massimo Bottura who you may recognise as the man behind the world’s number one restaurant of 2018 – Osteria Francescana. Translating to “I’ll be right back” this Dubai project marks Bottura’s first restaurant outside of Italy. Chef Akira Back will also bring his distinct Asian cuisine to the property. Back’s global portfolio includes restaurants in Jakarta, Bali, Bangkok, Las Vegas and Seoul (with the latter recently awarded a coveted Michelin Star) and we’re very excited to see what the first Middle Eastern outpost for this celebrity chef looks (and tastes) like.
Location: W Dubai The Palm, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Avli by Tasha’s
Following hot on the heels of Natasha Sideris’ South African eatery, Tashas and her licensed venture, Flamingo Room by Tashas, comes Avli. A place inspired by “the rustic courtyards of the Mediterranean, where friends become family, food an occasion and moments a celebration.” This Athenian restaurant replaces La Luz at the Four Seasons DIFC and is scheduled for an early 2019 opening.
Location: Ground Floor, Gate Village Building 9, DIFC, Dubai
Atelier House Hospitality are bringing two Michelin starred New York restaurant Marea to Dubai’s DIFC. Akin to the flagship, the Dubai menu comes from Chef Michael White and ‘will read like a map of the sea, allowing guests to experience a variety of dishes.’ Marea which means “tide” in Italian looks to “redefine the seascape of high-end Italian cuisine serving regional foods of Italy.”
Location: Gate Village 7, DIFC, Dubai
Now open in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Marina, Salama’s offers a culinary journey around the world courtesy of Chef Stephan Benkendorff (previously of JW Steakhouse at the Marriott Downtown). The food is global but with a distinct Emirati twist resulting in dishes such as Salama’s Signature Machsotto, a fusion of Italian Risotto and Emirati Machboos or the Marhaba Aloha Trifle, a camel milk sorbet with pineapple compote, coconut and meringue.
Location: Marsa Al Bateen, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
Mama Zonia is a fun and frivolous restaurant and bar on the second floor of Dubai Marina’s Pier 7. Offering spectacular waterfront views and an eclectic menu wrapped up in a tropical jungle environment. We wholly recommend the skewered prawns or for the brave, wok fried frogs legs with jungle curry. Click here for the full review.
Location: Level 2, Pier 7, Dubai Marina, Dubai
The Royal Atlantis
The Royal Atlantis is rapidly taking shape on the Palm Jumeirah and in 2019 will become home to the Dubai outpost of Hakkasan, alongside three exciting new concepts. Celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner by Heston will be the first to open and having dined at the London location, we suggest this is an opening to be VERY excited about (#meatfruit). Another celebrity driven concept, Chef Ariana Bundy will open Ariana’s Perisan Kitchen with a capacity for 140 diners around an open show-kitchen that will showcase her signature dishes like Caspian-style filet kabab and rose-scented sea bass. Michelin-starred chef José Andrés will source ingredients directly from Spain for his Tapas concept Jaleo. Andrés is said to be the man who introduced Spanish “tapas” into the US through his modern approach to the traditional cuisine, so expect the unexpected.
Location: Royal Atlantis, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Two new openings at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina have gotten the capital into quite a frenzy and although both The Scene and Mr. Miyagi’s have been doing strong business in Dubai for some time now it’s Abu Dhabi’s turn to get in on the action. The Scene by Simon Rimmer is famous for its weekend roasts and looks to bring a typical British gastropub to Yas Island. In direct contrast, Mr. Miyagi’s uses Asian street food and bucket cocktails to replicate the feeling of Bangkok’s Khao San Road or the full moon parties of Koh Phangan. Our recent visit had us caught up in karaoke and all sorts of fun…
Location: Yas Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi Edition
The Abu Dhabi Edition is now open in Al Bateen and represents a property that has been well-worth the wait. The small hotel is a unique entity in Abu Dhabi and feels very boutiquey. With the F&B spearheaded by Tom Aikens (the youngest British chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars) there’s a lot of excitement surrounding British rock and roll steakhouse The Oak Room (review here) and its unique cuts which include Spanish Rubia and Master Kobe. Italian spot Alba Terrace offers al fresco dining and a charming Mediterranean menu and we can also vouch for the fresh and organic produce from Market at The Edition, making a great new breakfast spot for Abu Dhabians.
Location: The Abu Dhabi Edition, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort
Jumeirah’s second foray into the capital brings us the Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort with its selection of dining options set against the azure waters of the Arabian Gulf. Italian restaurant Mare Mare serves traditional and simplistic dishes close to the resorts swimming pool, while Tean is a Levantine restaurant bringing all your Arabic favourites with a contemporary twist. Look out for an additional desert property, Jumeirah Al Wathba in the first quater of 2019 too.
Location: Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
The Duck Hook & Hillhouse Brasserie
The Dubai Hills Golf Club recently opened two new venues. The Duck Hook is a British gastropub in a relaxed environment with a menu of signature dishes including beef cooked three ways, Scotch eggs, confit duck and a host of pub grub favourites. Hillhouse Brasserie is a casual and family friendly establishment. Boulangerie by day, brasserie by night, the menu offers interesting choices such as Thai-baked monkfish with Kimchi rice and Unagi foie gras. Life in the hills just got very interesting.
Location: Dubai Hills Golf Club, Emirates Hills, Dubai
The Palm Jumeirah seems to be getting all the attention when it comes to restaurant openings this year. Located at the far end of the Palms ‘trunk’ The Pointe is currently home to over fifty restaurants ranging from causal fast food eateries through to fine dining establishments. Of the plethora of restaurants available, we’re most intrigued by Chicago Meatpackers with its menu of burgers, and steaks inspired by freight trains and cattle yards. We sincerely hope that Mama Pho may finally deliver us the authentic Vietnamese soup we’ve been longing to find since arriving in the UAE. Greek opening, Ena (the third on this list) promises “original Greek cuisine with unusual depth and texture in a bustling, contemporary setting.”
Location: The Pointe, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Indya By Vineet
The trend for quality Indian food continues with the announcement of Indya by Vineet at the Le Royal Meridien. The 90 seat restaurant from Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia promises to bring a unique take on Indian street food in a vibrant, colourful and eclectic backdrop inspired by the culture, spirit and vitality of the motherland. The space will also include a bar area and al fresco terrace.
Location: Le Royal Meridien, JBR, Dubai
With the arrival of Miss Lily’s and Ting Irie, it would appear that Dubai has finally worken up to the charms of Carribean food (and rum). It’s pleasing to see cuisine making a resurgence in the city with the opening of Ciboneys which will open soon in DIFC. An innovative Caribbean restaurant, bar and lounge will offer a relaxed sharing style service in a lovely atmosphere, which will exude the vibrancy of the Caribbean in an opulent colonial style setting. Consider us intrigued!
Location: Gate Village 3 DIFC, Dubai
Mandarin Oriental Jumeira
Located on the sixth floor of the soon-to-open Mandarin Oriental Jumeira. Tasca is the brainchild of culinary mastermind José Avillez and is named after the Portuguese word for tavern. Tasca will mark the chef’s first international opening, following Michelin-starred Belcanto and diners can expect genuine Portuguese flavours with a contemporary twist. The hotel will also bring us Netsu, a Japanese Steakhouse from acclaimed chef Ross Shonhan that will Showcase the traditional Japanese cooking technique of Warayakiya – straw fire cooking!
Location: Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeira 1, Dubai
This new Uzbekistani restaurant situated in La Mer North arrives from London’s upmarket Knightsbridge. Bringing a taste of the Silk Route to Dubai, Osh’s menu specialises in grills and is described as “a gastronomical intersection between traditional Central Asian food and ethnic inspired spices and flavors.”
Location: La Mer North, Jumeirah 1, Dubai