Crazy Fish marks the latest Dubai opening from F1 impresario and restauranteur Flavio Briatore, the man behind Billionaire Mansion another of Dubai’s luxury nightlife destinations (which has coincidently acquired one of the best chefs in town in the form ex-Zuma and ex-Play favourite Reif Othman).
Looking to bring the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo to the Gulf, Crazy Fish originally opened in Monaco in 2017 before launching a summer pop-up in Sardinia’s Porto Cervo. Having made waves on the Mediterranean coast, Crazy Fish now takes up residence in DIFC’s Al Fattan Currency House, sharing a space with steakhouse Beef Bar.
First impressions are good as we enter into a restaurant of ideal proportions (bucking the trend of mammoth spaces that have plagued many recent openings) and are immediately met with a fish market style set-up with an alluring selection of fresh catch laid out upon a glistening bed of ice.
The modus operandi of Crazy Fish is strictly fine dining with pressed white table linens, dark wood and blue leather upholstery, making for a relativley formal dining room with a nautical slant. While the lighting remains fairly dark throughout, the gloom actually adds atmosphere (though plays havoc with our photos) and the space is accentuated via colourful artworks dedicated to the likes of Wonder Woman, Charlie Chapman and Cara Delevingne – providing the space a contemporary twist.
With so many recent seafood openings in Dubai the USP of Crazy Fish derives from the fact that their fish is not farmed. Instead the catch is caught in Mediterranean waters and flown into Dubai thrice weekly from either Rome or Barcelona. While this dedication to quality is admirable, we can’t help but think about the impact of these ‘food miles.’
Crazy Fish’s menu marks another concise offering and it appears restaurants are FINALLY catching on. Surely its better to focus on a select number of quality dishes than a sprawling catalogue that makes little sense to the concept? In the case of Crazy Fish the menu strategy means less food wastage combined with a showcase for the simple cooking of high quality products.
Our dining experience begins with the ‘raw’ section of the menu. A tuna tartare with crushed potatoes and basil (AED 70) is smoked in a bell jar and despite the pleasant table-side theatrics, the flavour of the tuna is entirely over-powered by the smoking process and texturally doesn’t quite work with the crushed potatoes which causes a clash to the overly dense mixture.
The juxtaposition of ingredients in the Seabass tartare with avocado and lime (AED 70) is much better. Similarly, the catch of the day carpaccio (AED 65) simply seasoned with pink salt lets the fish stand front and centre, but the three raw dishes become hard to differentiate in terms of flavor. Some extra seasoning or a spritz if lemon would go a long way to boosting the flavour of these specific plates.
Redemption is found within the ‘hot starters’ especially the fritto misto (AED 80) which brings together prawns, calamari and red mullet in a pleasing batter that’s perhaps a touch too thick. Meanwhile, a small bowl of pan fried red king prawns (AED 110) provide an unprecedented sweetness from the crustacean and we can’t help but find ourselves reaching for extra bread to soak up the addictive garlic and chilli herb butter.
Unfortunately we’re unable to taste the prawns hidden within the hot aubergine rolls (AED 45) and despite the addition of red endive and parmesan cheese, it feels like a somewhat redundant dish in terms of both flavour and texture. Thankfully, all is not lost! The arrival of octopus and rosemary potatoes presents a dish which frustrates purely because it represents just how good the food at Crazy Fish can be when executed correctly.
This sense if further accentuated with the monkfish and cherry tomato tagallini that cleverly utilizes the sweetness from the tomatoes to complement the delicate fish pieces generously dispersed throughout the al dente pasta ribbons. Yet disappointment returns with the catch of the day which at AED 600 per kilo is a lot for a piece of under-seasoned and unfortunately overcooked fish.
Admittedly we appreciate the interactive nature of the Crazy Fish experience and diners are activley encouraged to visit the ‘fish market’ and take advice from the chefs on selecting their catch. Complemented by a flair for presentation, the salt baked catch of the day (a dish we perhaps should’ve ordered as opposed to the baked variety) is set alight table-side to add drama to proceedings. The theatrics continue through the dessert course, as our traditional tiramisu is constructed before us using a strong Italian espresso and lashings of mascarpone.
Our meal finishes with a selection of fruit and nuts which have been hollowed out and the flesh replaced with ice cream. Aside from the tricky to eat peanut offering (it’s too small to get a firm grasp on) the execution is off and we’re unable to differentiate the flavours, mistaking them to be cheese!
Crazy Fish has arrived in Dubai with a clever marketing campaign and a sense of gusto that makes it difficult not to get caught up in the hype, but for team Out & About we found the reality to be somewhat underwhelming.
The high price tag on display throughout the menu will likely result in the target clientele professing a love for the restaurant based purely on price, and while this behavior may fly in Monaco, we’re not sure Dubai diners will agree.
There are some positives to be found and these mainly stem from the service side, with a team of predominantly Italian staff establishing a strong rapport with diners, resulting in a competent and relaxed service style.
With such an influx of recent seafood opening in Dubai Crazy Fish pales in comparison to the likes of fellow DIFC resident Crab Market and the newly opened Fish House in Festival City. Despite a handful of good dishes, it feels as though Crazy Fish is not quite ready.
Out & About UAE were guests of Crazy Fish. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.