What happens when you combine a luxurious nightlife destination with the world of high-end Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli? The answer is Dubai’s Cavalli Club, a sought after venue known to attract socialites and jetsetters from around the globe. Home to lavish parties, guest performances from some of the biggest names in urban music and one of the most popular ladies nights in the city.
Situated on the backside of the Fairmont Sheikh Zayed Road, first impressions of Cavalli Club are good. It feels like an upmarket spot with large video screens and a huge mirrored Roberto Cavalli motif standing proudly at the door. The only thing missing is a collection of paparazzi (it feels like that kind of place) and passing the velvet rope, you’ll find yourself on the obligatory red carpet and on your way in. The hostess and security team are surprisingly warm and don’t appear to give off the unfriendly vibe we recently experienced at the similarly themed Billionaire Mansion.
There’s a sense of anticipation as we wait to enter and much like Billionaire we’re led towards an elevator that will carry us into the club itself. We take a moment to ponder the image of a white tiger printed across the metal doors and once they open, we’re inside the belly of the beast… quite literally! Inside is a leather couch (for those weary from a night of heavy dancing) and the walls are adorned in Cavalli’s signature animal print designs. In this case the striking black and white stripes from the aforementioned tiger.
A few second pass, the doors open and it’s like we’ve entered into another world. Decadent, lavish and opulent are all words that spring to mind. We try to keep up with the hostess while gawping at crystal chandeliers and waterfall-like curtains printed with the Roberto Cavalli logo. Cavalli is a huge space and one that takes some time to digest, encompassing a number of bars, lounges and multi tiered dance floors. Each appealing in its own right but distinct enough to have its own identity. The animal print continues with the introduction of zebra and leopard skin, bold signifiers from Roberto Cavalli, the man who created sandblasted jeans.
Our table is located in a prominent position on what is usually the dance floor of this sprawling nightclub. Unfortunately Cavalli is a victim of its own interior design success and doesn’t quite manage to transition into a restaurant, feeling at all times like your sat in the middle of a cavernous dance floor,
This is the point at which this review becomes difficult and despite the remarkable interiors, our dining experience at Cavalli Club can only be described as disappointing at best.
Service was inattentive and the two members of staff attending to our table clearly didn’t want to be there. With no rapport or engagement with our waiters and very little explanation regarding the brunch concept, we were flailing in the dark, both figuratively and literally. Trying to get someones attention was also an issue and during the course of our brunch we only managed to get two drinks each, a huge disappointment for an all you can eat / all you can drink concept.
Appetisers arrive on a striking pyramid, setting a high level of expectation which amounts to little. As a means of presentation we’ve never seen anything quite like it. A rotating metal structure into which small removable spoons are slotted and at the top sit calamari and prawns, both of which are lukewarm and a little on the chewy side. Traveling down the sides of the pyramid we encounter maki rolls of vegetable and eel (but why no wasabi or soy sauce Cavalli?) a tuna tartare, eggplant parmigiana, fish croquets and mushroom arancini. In a sweeping statement we found everything to be pretty flavourless and a feeling of compromising quality is apparent. Of the twelve items on the pyramid the only ones of note were the Caprese (a dish you can’t really get wrong) and the smoked duck with melon.
As with Billionaire, it’s a strange menu that mixes Italian and Japanese, but where the food as Billionaire is exceptional (albeit expensive), the culinary offerings at Cavalli are less than desirable. The midnight brunch concept allows diners to pick one main course from a selection of four. Skipping the mixed vegetable soup and saffron risotto we settle on braised short ribs and gnocchi with prawns.
Again we’re underwhelmed as the food is plagued with temperature issues. The short rib is the better of the two dishes and certainly looks the part, but aside from the truffle mashed potato (which is beautifully piped) the short ribs lack flavour. Granted the sauce is acceptable, but sample a piece of meat that’s not slathered in sweetness and the flavour is bland. The gnocchi fared no better with a combination of sparse seafood (it was like a game of hunt for the prawns) and a tomato sauce that tasted like it had come from a jar,
Hoping the desserts could redeem the evening somewhat, it was not the case, Slices of cake and little pots of mousse are cobbled together on a plate as if scavenged from the remainders of a Friday brunch buffet.
For a brand that is renowned for luxury clothing and perfume, the nightlife operation from Cavalli is a mixed bag. Granted the idea of a midnight brunch is a novel one, offering guests dinner and a show in the lead up to a night of drinking and dancing (at midnight the venue switches from restaurant to club). The entertainment aspect is actually superior to that of partner property Billionaire Mansion, with a strict focus on song and dance that feels more concise and fitting to the venue. There’s aerial swings and dancing on chairs, all within close proximity to diners, without directly interacting with them. The show is more dazzling and easier to connect with, yet the whole experience is let down by lacklustre food and poor service.
As we dine with Cavalli branded cutlery and sip from a Cavalli branded goblet we can’t help but applaud the audacity of the place. As a nightlife destination it’s hard to beat but as a restaurant we would give this one a massive pass.
The Cavalli Club Midnight Brunch is held on Sundays from 8:30pm – midnight and costs AED 250. Followed by the Just Sunday after-party with DJ Jack.
We were invited to dine at Cavalli Club. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.