It’s not very often in the UAE that you find yourself dining in a decades old establishment. JW’s Steakhouse at the JW Marriott in Deira has just turned 21 years old and to celebrate, they’re bringing back the original menu from 1995 along with the original price tags.
Despite its frustrating Deira location and a battle through Dubai’s rush hour traffic. A visit to JW’s is definitely a rewarding one. The restaurant is said to be Dubai’s very first steakhouse and certainly has a profound sense of old world grandeur. Descending the stairway via a grand piano and illuminated palm trees, the entrance to JW’s is unobtrusive. With a set of double doors leading the way into a gloomy space, past lobster tanks and a show kitchen, into a dining room featuring an over reliance on dark wood.
The steakhouse has traditionally been seen as a man’s domain and the decor here is certainly reflective of this. High backed arm chairs are upholstered in leather, old newspaper clippings hang haphazardly from the walls, while a scattering of nick-nacks and a lone gramophone complete the picture. JW’s feels like it belongs in prohibition era New York and the staff uniforms of bright white shirts and braces certainly emphasis this feeling. With over twenty years in the business, history seeps from the very fabric of a building that feels part man cave and part English country pub. Even with the inevitable gloom, we find the space to be charming and homely.
Settling into the comfortable arm chairs, we’re enamoured by the reservation plaque featuring a large silver bull’s head and our name written in dark lettering. These impressive bull heads become a recurrent featured as our meal commences, being utilised on the serving platters too. At times it feels like we have walked onto the set of popular television show Mad Men and despite a strict no smoking policy, it seems like the sort of place that would welcome a post-dinner cigar with a glass of cognac.
JW’s feels like a timeless venue, with it’s subdued jazz soundtrack and team of friendly staff. Service is strictly professional and we must commend the lovely Joveth for taking such good care of us. Her patience and spot on recommendations make her a true asset to the restaurant.
We adored the concept of bringing back the original menu from 1995. A sign of recognizing and appreciating ones history, better still, Chef Iqbal (who has been with the restaurant since day one) is still on hand to oversee proceedings and ensure that your choice of chosen cuts are cooked to absolute perfection.
Dinner begins with a freshly baked onion bread, served in a terracotta flower pot with herbed butter. If that’s not enough, an Amuse-bouche of strongly flavored mushroom soup is presented in dainty glass teacups.
A quick glance at the menu offers diners a startling array of choice and all the standard items you’d expect from a steakhouse. Oysters Rockefeller, Pan Seared Foie Gras and a creamed mushroom and snail ragout are all present and correct. Though it’s the price point that is most admirable, bringing back the original prices from when the time at which the restaurant first opened.
With steak on the agenda for our main courses, both myself and my dining companion selected seafood for our appetizers. Lump Crab Cake was a singular piece of crisp breaded goodness, complementing the delicate flesh of the crab with a zesty lime tartare sauce. While the Lobster Bisque was an absolute showstopper! Blending creamed vegetables with large chunks of lobster flesh and a nice level of spice. Opting for the addition of a flaming cognac shot, the dish transformed into a something altogether wondrous with the slight tinge of alcohol adding an additional layer of complex flavor, elevating the dish to superiority.
For main courses there was little doubt that we would pick anything other than the premium cuts of steak. Though an abundance of seafood options (salmon, lobster and jumbo prawns) are readily available. Our choices of 10 oz tenderloin and a 16 oz t-bone left us entirely delighted. Cooked medium rare, the flesh cut ever so easily, revealing a truly pink interior and a tender, melt in the mouth texture.
The quality of the meats on offer in undeniable, with large portions of thick cut premium meats. It should be noted however, that even though the steaks come with two sauces – a sweet bayonnaise and beautifully rich pepper corn – that sides dishes must be ordered separately. Our recommendations? The wonderful garlic mashed potato, green asparagus with hollandaise and herb sautéed mushroom caps.
With the standards of the food being set so high, we were slightly underwhelmed by the desserts. Offering a good selection of classic favorites like Bread and Butter Pudding or Vanilla Creme Brûlée. Our simply plated Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake and Baked New York Cheesecake did the job but weren’t in the same league as the savory courses. Ending on a high note, a hint of molecular gastronomy crept into proceedings with the arrival of a smoking bowl of mixed chocolates.
It’s such a shame that some of these older restaurants are often disregarded by diners in favour of the newest ‘in place’ to dine. Many of these trendy hot spots are soulless and pretentious and capitalize on Dubai’s thirst for the new. Thankfully we still have the option of places like JW’s Steakhouse, with its classic feel and quality cuts of meat.
Though vegetarians may struggle at an establishment such as this, carnivores will find it’s a stirling choice. Having won ‘best steakhouse’ at the 2016 Time Out Dubai awards, it’s pleasing to see that two decades on, JW’s Steakhouse is still going strong and with such a strong reputation, they haven’t faltered.
The 21st Anniversary Menu runs for just 21 days from 28th October – 17th November 2016. Step back in time and indulge on dishes from the original 1995 menu, along with the old price tags!
Location: JW Marriott, Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Al Muraqqabat, Dubai
Hours: 5pm – midnight
Phone: 04 607 7977
We were invited to dine at JW’s Steakhouse. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Cover image used courtesy of JW Marriott Dubai