In the week that Lock Stock & Barrel (LSB) claimed both the title of ‘Dubai’s favorite bar’ at the What’s On Awards, followed in quick succession by ‘leading nightlife venue’ at the 2016 Food & Beverage Awards. We thought it was about time that we headed down to the Grand Millennium Hotel to see what all the fuss is about.
Much like the bars memorable name, deriving from the 1998 Guy Ritchie film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. It’s particulary difficult to shake the experience you get after visiting LSB for the first time. Dubai’s newest bar is one that has taken the city by storm since its launch earlier this year and one that has made an instant impression on the Dubai nightlife scene.
Located in Barsha Heights (formally Tecom) the location isn’t necessarily reflective of great nightlife or the experience that you’re about to undertake. Far away from the glitz of Downtown or Marina, LSB is an entirely different beast, giving the impression of an Indie dive bar. Yet it’s so much more than that.
Ascending the small elevator to the hotels eighth floor, we presume that we have it all figured out, or at least we thought so? As the elevator dings and the doors creak open, nothing could’ve prepared us for the treat inside. Even late on a Wednesday night the place is buzzing, pulsating with life and creating an instant charm quite unlike anywhere else we’ve been in Dubai.
The look is straight up industrial and features exposed brick walls, metal walkways and factory-style ducting. Like something out of the industrial zone from the early 1990s television show The Crystal Maze. Two walls of impressive speakers bookend the live music stage and will literally blow your mind (as well as your ears), providing a bone-shaking vibration to proceedings. Cleverly lit in hues of orange and green, it’s as if you’re wearing a pair of 3D glasses that have slipped just a little and a warm glow envelops all.
The high ceilings are an unexpected surprise for a venue located on the eighth floor of a hotel, boasting a cavernous feel and a deception of size via the clever use of mirror walls to subtly enhance the space. The venue is split into two levels, with a mezzanine floor featuring an additional bar, sports screens and pool tables. Providing an escape from the crowded lower level and a great vantage point from which to watch the live band.
Yet the decor is only one piece of the puzzle and atmosphere reigns supreme. A crowd of thirty-somethings who haven’t quite made it home from work, make up the majority of the crowd.
Lock, Stock could be Berlin, it could be London’s Shoreditch or perhaps New York’s Meat Packing District. It’s a transient venue that feels effortlessly hip and despite our impressions of this being a down and dirty dive bar, we couldn’t have been more wrong. LSB is somewhere you’ll want to frequent, somewhere to meet your mates and a place where anything goes.
In fact, Lock Stock could be considered the anti-Dubai in its deviation from the norm. A venue that doesn’t promote dress codes or ridiculous policies in which you require an equal number of men and women in your group. Instead, LSB adopts a far more inclusive vibe akin to the old saying “the more the merrier” and it seems to be one that is working admirably in their favour.
Working our way through the lively crowd, we realize how important it is to make a reservation. It’s 9:30pm on a Wednesday night and Lock, Stock is standing room only. The place is literally bursting at the seams with revellers, as we make our way into a corner of bar style seating and up-cycled wooden tables. We would strongly advise that if you plan on eating, you make a reservation or arrive very early to bag yourself a precious seat.
Even though it was busy, the staff were attentive and worked the room effortlessly, delivering trays of drinks, shooters and sumptuous looking bar bites. Working with a constant smile and jovial demeanour, staff appeared to be enjoying the evening as much as their customers. Engaging in light banter and as the night wears on, even offering us a piggy back to the restroom! You wouldn’t necessarily expect great service from a bar such as this but staff are constantly doing the rounds to check on customers and orders arrive quickly, despite the chaotic nature of the place.
Championing live music and undiscovered talent, LSB utilises in house band 13 Daze to keep the crowd entertained. Kicking off late (the band start at 11pm) this four piece band produce a guitar heavy unplugged set, taking in the hits of Snow Patrol and Kings Of Leo. Getting the crowd moving appears to be an effortless task, as restaurant turns into dance floor and night into early morning.
The team at Lock, Stock know their demographic and pander to the after work crowd with a near perfect selection of beverages and bar bites. Open until 3am, the bar offers craft beers, twisted cocktails and exciting shooters. Promotions prevail and include a daily BOGOF happy hour between 5pm – 8pm. Night owls can wait until midnight when the price of shots crashes drastically but only for fifteen minutes, so get in there quick!
The restaurant provides all your favorite American-inspired bar bites – chicken wings, burgers and pizza flatbreads. We tried the L.S.B. Sampler, an introduction to some of the establishments signature dishes and a great way to soak up the beverages that you may’ve overindulged in. Jalapeño poppers stuffed with lime and coriander provide a welcome heat and complement the other fried items – the biggest buttermilk onions rings we’ve ever encountered and deep fried cheese balls. For seafood lovers, there’s Bayou popcorn shrimp tossed in a cajun aioli and crisp calamari (complete with tentacles) in a chipotle seasoning. Spicy buffalo wings and Cap’n crunch chicken tenders round out the platter designed for two but easily enough for four.
What makes Lock, Stock and Barrel so surprising is it’s an instantly likable nature. Somewhere for ample drinking and dancing and an almost guaranteed certainty of a great night out. There’s nowhere else quite like this in the city and this plays a huge role in Lock, Stocks popularity boom. As a nightlife destination, LSB is one of the most atmospheric we’ve visited in Dubai. So grab your mates, kick back and relax and most importantly… have some raucous fun!
We were invited to Lock, Stock & Barrel. All views are our own and all photographs are © Lock, Stock & Barrel.