Dubai International Financial Centre seems like an ideal fit for a brand like Waldorf Astoria who have just opened their second Dubai property in the Burj Daman complex.
While it’s hard not to become jaded by the sheer abundance of hotels. Springing up on what feels like a weekly basis. Beach resorts, movie-themed hotels and gargantuan structures with over 200 swimming pools have all made their mark on Dubai’s hospitality sector in recent months but the Waldorf Astoria DIFC is doing things a little differently.
Less bombastic, the subdued nature of the property in the heart of the financial district exudes a sense of classy sophistication from the moment you pull up at the valet. We’re greeted and ushered though monochromatic corridors before arriving at the golden gilded elevators which take us upwards towards the reception and restaurant floor.
By the time we arrive at Bull & Bear, the hostess is awaiting our impending arrival and has already learnt our names – that’s service for you.
In keeping with the theme Dubai’s latest five-star opening, Bull and Bear is conceptualized around the notion of 1950s New York and is based on the now-closed restaurant of the same name which was once the centrepiece of the Waldorf Astoria New York. The restaurant has a timeless feel and we appreciate the small bar area which would make for a pleasing spot for a pre-dinner drink. It’s lunchtime so we regrettable move through to the dining room passed an audacious hand-forged sculpture of the two namesake mammals, etched in gold latticework and poised mid-charge. This feeling of Wall Street chic continues into a dining room which wraps around the central show kitchen and offering views of both the Zabeel area and towering Burj Khalifa.
A day-to-night venue. Bull and Bear are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner but this is predominately a steakhouse and while the menu offers very little in the way of surprises but what they do, they do very well. The expected steakhouse favourites are present and correct – burrata, seared Scottish scallops and the Waldorf salad.
We’re intrigued by the Alligator Pear, a dish of pickled avocado but we’re swayed by our affable waitress into order the signatures instead. It’s an excellent call on her part with the John Stone Dray Aged Beef Tartare (AED 95) offering a flavorful beef rich in both marbling and flavour. This modern interpretation of tartare comes embellished with a slow-cooked egg yolk that boasts an alluring velvety texture that works well against the peppery beef. The Prawn Cocktail (AED 120) is also rather good and looks to bring the 1980s dinner party staple into the modern era. Plated at the table the locally-caught tiger prawns are served hot having been subtly infused with Asian spices. The theatrics bring a nice interplay between diner and chef that heightens the dining experience.
When it comes to main courses there are several appealing options from the josper charcoal oven that includes a Westholme Wagyu striploin and various cuts of Black Onyx beef. Our preferred hanger steak is unavailable on the day we dine, but we are quickly appeased with the tenderloin (AED195 for 180g) which is remarkably tender and is a pleasure to eat unhindered without the needs for peppers, mustards and the like. Served alongside thick-cut steak fries that are coated in paprika and accompanied by a fiery mayonnaise we are in carnivorous heaven by the time we’ve worked our way through the course.
Vegan bowls, beetroot risotto and some seafood options are also prominent fixtures ion the main course selection, with the halibut cooked on the bone (AED 210) providing quite the impression for the sheer size of the fish. Drizzled with lemon butter, the flaky fish is cooked-well and continues Bull & Bears penchant for over-sized portions.
While the savoury courses follow the expected steakhouse tropes, desserts at Bull & Bear veer away from the expected New York cheesecake, focusing instead on more abstract choices. A smoked tiramisu with Kahlua jelly and a black forest cherry, sit alongside a chocolate sphere playfully referred to as ring the bell (AED 55) As the name suggests, ringing the bell marks the end of a days trading on Wall Street but here in Dubai we’re signalling the end of the meal with a hazelnut chocolate fondant, dulce pearls, toasted marshmallows and Bailey’s ice cream encased in chocolate and melted via a hot chocolate sauce that is poured seductively over. While the chocolate sphere has been done to death on the Dubai dining scene, the result is rather pleasing.
A lighter choice would be the Big Apple (AED 55) another ode to New York which takes a literal apple and serves it four ways. There’s crumble, green apple sorbet, green apple foam and caramelized rosemary apple. Served cold on a bed of ice the various textures are the appeal of a dessert inspired by the original Bull & Bear.
The original may have now closed but the concept has been enhanced from a straight-up steakhouse and into the Waldorf Astoria DIFCs signature restaurant, providing a modern twist on the legendary NYC steakhouse. Walk-in wine cellars, an abundance of dark wood, billowing curtains and plenty of leather make for a sophisticated interior that uses tones of blue and gold to great effect.
Service throughout is an absolute delight with the Bull & Bear team engaging with customers on a personal level rarely seen in new openings. Our waitress works as our guide, helping us to navigate the menu while ensuring we get the best out of the experience. With no sign of up-selling or over-ordering, the diners needs are put front and centre in the Bull & Bear experience.
Situated in the heart of Dubai’s financial district Bull & Bear sets the culinary offerings at Waldorf Astoria DIFC off on a great start. Blending good food with strong service and appealing decor (plus the expected DIFC pricing). The feeling in sleek and sophisticated. Dubai now has it’s very own Wolf of Wall Street.
Location: Waldorf Astoria DIFC, Burj Daman, Happiness Street, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 6:30am – 10:30am / 12pm – 4pm / 7pm – midnight
Phone: +971 4 515 9888
Out & About UAE were guests of Bull & Bear and all views are our own.