Having lived in the UAE for four years we’re a little ashamed to admit that we’d yet to visit Pier 7, the multi-tiered eatery situated in a prime location of Dubai Marina. The concept is a novel one for Dubai with each of the seven licensed eateries taking over one floor of the structure and each presenting a distinctly different theme. We’ve had our eye on Asia, Asia for some time now (the brunch there is apparently fantastic) and heard good things regarding Cargo as a bit of a party place but our first dining experience at the Pier relates to Fume.
Located on the first floor Fume markets itself as a neighbourhood eatery, the type of place to encourage a sense of community and repeat business from residents of the Marina and JBR communities. First impressions are good as we enter into the spacious restaurant via a metal sliding door resembling something you’d expect to find on a chilled meat locker. Make no mistake, this is a causal dining establishment but one with a sense of playful style. Although the theme is predominantly industrial, a number of vintage influences sneak in via the use of battered metal crockery and teapots, reminiscent of a school camping trip.
Chandeliers spread across the ceilings like spider legs and the vibe is quite jovial. We visit on a Saturday afternoon when Fume offers its special children’s brunch between the hours of 12pm and 4pm. Not only is there a full buffet spread but also a supervised play area complete with toys and games, all for the very reasonable price of AED 30 per child. Granted the food on the buffet isn’t the best you’re likely to find in Dubai but does throw in some healthy options amongst the usual burgers, pizzas and pastas. The concept is good for those with younger children and even if you’re not eating, parents can grab a cup of coffee and let their children blow off some steam for an hour or two. It’s refreshing to see an establishment putting families first and we can see this weekend brunch getting extremely popular once the inevitable summer heat rolls around once again.
It’s not all about the little angels though and the inclusive nature of Fume means that adults are also well catered too. Tucked away in the centre of the room (behind the large Coca Cola chiller) you’ll find a strictly adults only enclave, a private bar away from the raucous squeals of the children’s area and one that seemed to be doing a stellar trade for an early weekend afternoon
What surprised us most about our visit to Fume was just how much emphasis is put into the quality of the food. A common theme runs throughout the a la carte menu and it’s one of extremely generous portions. Each of the three appetisers we sampled could easily have been served as main courses and similarly to the very hungry caterpillar, we ate our way through one Steak Tartare, one Crispy Duck Salad and one portion of Fried Calamari. Based around a family style sharing concept the dishes though unremarkably plated, represent some of your favourite comfort foods.
If we see another food blog use the phrase “the best xyz we’ve ever tasted” we’re going to scream! It’s an all too common practice but these words actually came of out Mrs. Out & About’s lips regarding the calamari dish and for those who’ve ever met her, this is a remarkable complement! Tender pieces of calamari are lightly battered and given an extra hit of zest via the sparing use of lime and a fiery sweet chilli sauce. We must mention the seasoning when it comes to the steak tartare, as the chef may have over-indulged in the use of pepper, though the gloriously runny organic egg should be applauded. The Fume website describes “epicurean flavours of Europe, North and South-East Asia” and we assume that crispy duck salad with watermelon, cashew nuts and hoisin sauce to be a representation of this.
Moving onto the main courses we indulge in Pulled Beef Brisket Bun with vinegar slaw a dish that certainly looks the part and was fully loaded to the point of bursting, but one that suffers slightly in execution. Pulled pork is a glorious creation and the fat content allows the meat to remain moist over periods of prolonged cooking. Unfortunately beef (or chicken for that matter) don’t work in quite the same way, as the meat tends to dry out and unfortunately, no amount of sauce slathered on top can make up for it. We understand the re-tooled version for the Middle Eastern market but for us it was the weakest main we tried.
Our first thought when entering Fume was “what are all these baskets of coconut husks for?” All was revealed with the arrival of the Norwegian Salmon in teriyaki sauce which had been hot smoked upon coconut to add an additional flavour profile, it’s as good a salmon as you’re ever likely to get with a beautifully soft texture and delicate flavour. In stark contrast the Honey & Chilli Marinated Chicken was as bold as they come, harnessing a blend of sweet and spice that seeped all the way into the flesh.
Fume has become associated with decadent desserts and we got to sample three of them. Sticking to the ethos of looks being deceiving, the understated Date & Banana Pudding was the dessert that impressed the most, mixing the Arabic staple of dates with a traditional banana pudding to add an additional element of sweetness. Innuendo runs rife with the 12 Inches of Pleasure Salted Caramel and Chocolate Eclair but other than looking the part we found the Choux pastry covered in melted chocolate to be too dry and the creamy filling overwhelming.
Not willing to be outdone, we opted to sample one of Fume’s signature Monster Shakes. Now the monster milkshake craze may have reached breaking point in Dubai since this Australian export burst onto our sunny shores last year but the ones at Fume are some of the most excessive we’ve encountered (we’re yet to venture to Black Tap at Al Naseem but it’s on our radar). Our caramel order arrived topped with a ball of popcorn through which the straw is inserted. With chocolate dripping down the sides and a rush of sugary sweet caramel, each shake is more than enough for four people. Have one to yourself and the likelihood of slipping into a diabetic coma is a distinct possibility!
If we lived in Marina we could easily see Fume becoming a regular weekend breakfast haunt for us and our interest has been piqued enough for us to plan a return visit to sample the Lotus pancakes and rainbow bagels. For families it’s ideal and provides adults with a stress-free dining experience that’s such a rarity for parents of young children.
One minor criticism comes from the bathrooms which were despicable when we attended. Flooded floors, broken toilet seats and worse still, the only baby changing fascilitiy isn’t in the bathroom itself, but in a corridor between the kitchen and dining room which is just strange. A major oversight from the Fume team and one that should be addressed for such a family centric concept.
With glorious views over Dubai Marina and the moorings of pristine white yachts we could certainly think of worse places to spend a day and our first trip to Pier 7 has certainly gotten us intrigued to try out the other eateries in the complex. Having started from the bottom, we now look set to work our way all the way up….
We were invited to dine at Fume. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.