Café Belge

One of the things Dubai certainly isn’t lacking is Belgian-themed bars. It seems the European chocolatiers have captured our culinary imagination — a pot of moules-frites with your drink is in danger of becoming as ubiquitous as Dubai’s relationship with the humble burger. On route to the city’s latest version, there was a yawn-inducing sense of inevitability as we trundled towards the prospect of some passable seafood with our glass of something chilled. Yet this cynicism was rather unwarranted. Café Belge may have an unsophisticated name — it’s up there with ‘Russian Restaurant’ or ‘Estonian Eatery’, but in truth it’s chic and unquestionably smart. Obviously, being located in The Ritz-Carlton, it isn’t going to be shabby, but we were surprisingly impressed when we walked in. Themed on a 1920s Art Deco design, the marble floors, fixtures and art are complemented by a suitably vintage soundtrack transporting you to a world of opulent nostalgia. The staff are switched-on, too — meeting you at the door and ensuring that you’re attended to helps things along. We’d prefer not having to share our first name with everyone, as the zealous insistence on addressing you personally with every enquiry felt odd, but this is perhaps more of a cultural nuance and in honesty, no one seemed to mind. Predominantly a high-end restaurant with a bar — Café Belge’s hidden gem is its outdoor terrace. Perch yourself by the tranquilly lit bar and you’ll find yourself serenaded by the trickling water feature and 1920s jazz numbers. A pint of Belgian hops came in at Dhs45, which considering the faintly regal nature of the place, isn’t half bad. Throw in a pot of some outstanding moules and you’ll be setting yourself up for a satisfying hour or so. Perhaps if this accomplished venue could add a few flapper girls dancing wildly, a strictly 1920s dress code and sense of reckless hedonism, it might improve Café Belge. If however, a beautiful environment, excellent service and decent fare are sufficient, you’ll find little to complain about here.

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