The JW Marriott Marquis may have recently lost its title as the world’s tallest hotel to the Gevora just a short hop up Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. It seems almost unfair to have lost the moniker by a mere meter but unfortunately that’s the way things roll in a city constantly striving for the world’s biggest, tallest and best.
Standing proud at 355 meters the twin-towered JW Marriott Marquis still holds one unique advantage for the property is an attraction in itself. Offering a plethora of dining destinations encompassing a diverse array of cuisines, our previous stay at the hotel (full review here) had us yearning to dine at Weslodge.
Fast-forward a year and despite the on-going construction in Business Bay and a frankly chaotic valet experience (#ValetCarnage) we can’t help but sing the praises of this modern take on a saloon as it catapults towards its second anniversary.
Perched on the 68th floor of Tower B, Weslodge Saloon makes quite the first impression, declaring a strong sense of place and the feeling that you’ve well and truly arrived. Backed by a soundtrack of late 90s hip-hop (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill appears to be a firm favourite and one we highly approve of) we’re 100% onboard with, the integration between music selection and venue is one of the most successful in Dubai and while things move into 1980s synth territory as the evening progresses, the ambiance works.
Now when we think of a saloon, we envision swinging louver-doors, cowboys hats and connotations of the Old West or perhaps something more akin to current trending HBO show Westworld. Yet, here at Weslodge, high above Dubai, we’re presented with a more stylish take on the old-world saloon, a modernist approach encompassing steakhouse chic with an abundance of leather furnishings and mounted cattle skulls. While the restaurant fit-out is spectacular and easily one of the most inclusive in Dubai, it’s the views that are likely to be the main draw.
From this vantage point diners can see the entire city laid out below. As the perpendicular lines of roads reach out for the ocean, past the collection of skyscrapers grouped along the SZR and the iconic Burj Khalifa. On a clear day it’s entirely possible to see all the way out from the Dubai Water Canal to the World Island’s, collectively forming a map of the world when seen from above.
Weslodge marks another case of Dubai franchising, but in this rare instance the association is in more than just name. This recreation of the original Weslodge in Toronto replicates individual design elements through to the crockery on which the food is served and while the menu goes off on somewhat of a tangent from its Canadian counterpart, the dining experience is certainly one to remember.
One of the things that originally alerted us to the existence of Weslodge was the inclusion of Caribbean food on the menu (back before the arrival of Miss Lily’s and Ting Irie) and although the menu primarily draws inspiration from North America, there are elements from South and Central American cuisine alongside a handful of dishes from the Caribbean Islands.
We begin with a Seabass Ceviche (AED AED 72) that arrives to the table amidst wisps of smoke. The mixture of compressed watermelon, agua de chile, cilantro and shiso is served with crisp tortilla chips as a means to add texture and while it may not be our favourite take on ceviche, strong flavours are noticeably present. We can’t help but wonder if Chef Edgar Hurtado of Peruvian restaurant Garden, located 63 floors below, has had an input into this specific dish.
A dish of Hamachi (AED 75) proves to be our favourite of the evening. A take on nigiri juxtaposing a cool slither of hamachi against crispy black rice, a honey soy glaze and chili mayo in a surprisingly moreish dish. A trio of Baja Fish Tacos (AED 68) evoke a similar reaction, presented on a branded wooden block and stuffed with red cabbage, jalapeño and lime.
From the main courses the fried chicken is not to be missed. With five varieties available, of which we opt for the Southern Fried (AED 82), the boneless chunks of chicken breast remain tender and have a wonderful crisp coating of tabasco and honey that plays up the contrast between sweet and savory particularly well. The Pastrami Short Rib (AED 170) is also of note with the unbelievably tender meat (due to a long period of marination and slow-cooking) sliding off the bone and accompanied by an inventive horseradish labneh.
A quick mention is also required for the side dishes, in which Grilled Corn On The Cob (AED 39) is prepared table-side with chili lime butter and huitlacoche aioli and balancing a fiery heat with an unprecedented sweetness. We hate to say it but the reason the food is so successful relies on the fact that the majority of ingredients are imported from outside of the UAE, all helping to add to what our waitress describes as “elevated comfort food.”
Service is some of the most competent with our waitress well versed in the entire menu, taking time to explain each dish with such precision and contagious enthusiasm that we feel as if we’re best friends by the end of the evening. In a city where service levels vary so greatly it’s refreshing to see service as one of Weslodge’s greatest strengths and our table is read so impeccably throughout our meal that the dining experiences we’ve had since, pale in comparison.
We round off the evening with Death By Chocolate a dessert that takes Weslodge’s logo of two hands forming the ‘Whatever’ gesture and turns it into a sweet treat. It’s a textured mixture of chocolate coated ganache with ice cream and a nut infused chocolate soil that’s unfortunately a little heavy and ideally should be split between two people.
The plating could also be improved, for much of the food looks messy and results in an unfortunate injustice to the impeccable flavours and quality of ingredients throughout.
Weslodge is definitely our kind of place — casual and funky without the associated pretension. A place to come for sundowners (there’s a menu of 27 cocktails) and stay for dinner, in a rare day to night venue that encourages diners to linger With the venue’s two year anniversary fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to see what all the fuss is about.
Location: Tower B, JW Marriott Marquis, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 5:30pm – midnight (3am on weekends)
Phone: 04 560 1700
Out & About UAE were guests of Weslodge. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.