The UAE has no shortage of fashion hotels, with the likes of the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa and Palazzo Versace over in Dubai’s Cultural Village.
Attempting to insatiate the regions appetite for all things luxury comes the arrival of the Bulgari Resort Dubai, taking things up a notch having been built on its own private offshore island shaped like a seahorse.
When it comes to haute-couture hotels you can usually expect haute-cuisine, yet this is not the case with Bulgari’s five food and beverage offerings. Our destination for our initial visit to Bulgari was the Yacht Club, a nautical themed restaurant with a strict focus on Mediterranean cuisine and a heavy Italian influence, paying homage to the luxury brands heritage.
The Yacht Club stands somewhat apart from the hotel building, separated by the Bulgari residences and a sweeping marina home to a number of super-yachts. Stepping across the Bulgari branded carpets and into the restaurant space, the similarities to Cipriani, another popular fine-dining Italian spot, are unmistakable. Interiors are panelled in wood in a similar fashion to the deck of a ship, with the metaphorical bow replaced by a well-stocked bar. Vintage photographs and staff dressed in a hybrid of white tuxedos and sailor uniforms complement the maritime theme.
As pleasing as the interiors are on the eye, myself and fellow dining companion (and sometimes co-host on What’s Cooking UAE) Courtney of A To Zaatar can’t resist the charms of the outside deck. Overlooking the water, the vessel-shaped hotel and punctuated by the glimmering spire of the Burj Khalifa on the horizon. Atmospherics aside, the food during the course of our lunch was consistently excellent. With little room for re-invention, the Yacht Club menu represents a selection of Italian classics done remarkably well, under the guidance of charismatic Chef De Cuisine, Andrea Calducci.
Atmospherics aside, the food during the course of our lunch is consistently excellent but provides little room for re-invention. The Yacht Club’s menu represents a selection of Italian classics executed remarkably well, under the guidance of charismatic Chef De Cuisine, Andrea Calducci.
The Yacht Club’s take on an Old Fashioned utilised Campari rather than whisky and makes a strong first impression, served in a sliver cup and adorned with the Bvlgari logo burnt into a slice of orange peel (it’s the small details that count). As creatures of habit we order the Burrata Pugliese (AED 85), served with crushed tomato, basil and Taggiasca olives to complement the generous portion of creamy Italian cheese. Similarly, the Tartare Di Tonno Pinna Gialla (AED 95) presents a beautifully plated tuna tartare with quails egg and pink grapefruit that delivered on taste and left us wanting to take the Bvlgari crockery home (spoiler alert — we didn’t).
It was actually a dish we wouldn’t have ordered ourselves that came up trumps. The Fritto Misto Di Mare (AED 115) arrived upon the insistence of our waiter and we seriously enjoyed the lightly battered mix of squid, shrimp and vegetables – an indicator of how this dish should be executed. Definitely the best fritto misto we’ve had in a while and the same can be said for the tartare.
We’re offered tasting portions of two pasta dishes, of which the al dente Linguine Al Limone (AED 170) is our preferred choice. A lemon linguine with clams and Sardinian bottarga (salted fish roe) provides a beautiful taste of the sea perfectly matched by our surroundings. The unique Maltagliati Al Ragu (AED 160) plates olives, red mullet ragout and maltagliati paste but fails to leave as much of an impression as the linguine.
Instinct draws us towards the seared octopus for our main course, but once again we’re swayed by our waiters insistence on the Salt Crusted Catch Of The Day. Admittedly we’ve never been that enamoured with the idea of salt crusted fish and having tried the dish at other establishments, the result has never been anything other than underwhelming. The salted crust is efficiently removed at the table, works as a means of keeping the flavour in and adding an intensity during the cooking process. The fish is expertly filleted and presented with a simple lemon butter sauce, potatoes, tomatoes and broccoli. Much like the aforementioned fritto misto, the fish inverts are expectations into something we would certainly order again.
Five desserts are offered and there is (disappointingly) not a tiramisu in sight. Instead, we enjoy the Baba Classico (AED 65), a yeast cake saturated in Limoncello syrup, marmalade and served with Chantilly cream. The baba is denser than we would’ve liked and we struggle to finish the portion. However, it’s the Carpaccio Di Ananas (AED 55) that leaves a lasting impression and marks a lighter way to end the meal. Pineapple carpaccio (a first for us) marinated with vanilla and basil and served with lemon sorbet.
Dining at Bulgari we weren’t entirely sure what to expect but we found the pricing to be sensible (considering the brand) and the service to be in the upper echelon of Dubai service levels. Matching these factors with impressive food, of which many ingredients are locally sourced and the Yacht Club makes for quite the first impression.
With a high-end clientele of fashionistas and the business crowd, Dubai’s Bulgari Resort feels somewhat like a private members club waiting to be discovered by the Dubai population — a luxurious enclave off the coast that only the elite are aware of! This may not quite be the reality but this is a property we’re looking forward to further exploring in the coming months.
Out & About UAE were guests of the Bulgari Hotel. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.