Center Cut

For a hotel of its size, it’s remarkable that the new Ritz-Carlton in DIFC has managed to open with little fanfare and fuss. Maybe this is all yet to come, but, for the time being, the Ritz is welcoming visitors and (if the staff are to be believed) business is good – we were told that occupancy was already at 50 per cent and was expected to rise to 70 per cent the following week. The guests must have been hiding in their rooms when we snuck in to take a look one Saturday evening – the restaurants were all but empty. Just as well really, considering we turned up unannounced and hadn’t booked a table. Our impromptu arrival didn’t prove to be a problem: we had all of Center Cut to ourselves. Usually I’m loathe to eat in an empty restaurant – it’s rather depressing, not to mention somewhat surreal, sitting alone in an alien environment being watched and waited on by strangers. However, a combination of soft lighting and the subtle lounge soundtrack made the restaurant feel welcoming and warm, despite its lack of patronage and generous proportions. I was also enamoured by the decor – the cream and honey-oak colour scheme made for very masculine surroundings, a feeling further enhanced by several energetic line drawings of bulls. It was fitting, considering the focal point of the food here is steak. With so many aspects of Dubai proving completely over the top, this venue was refreshing in its understated class. The menu was in keeping with the pervading vibe of the restaurant: its offerings focused on a few starters, US and Australian cuts of beef, garnishes, sauces and a selection of seafood. I pre-empted the main event with a starter of six French oysters, while my date opted for the salmon salad. Though we’d both been enjoying Center Cut’s ambience, we were disappointed by the serving of stale bread that became hard, tasteless and brittle as soon as it cooled. Happily, the sub-standard bread was no indication of the starters – the oysters, while modestly sized, were the freshest I’ve tasted in Dubai. The accompanying sauces (the bloody Mary being the most interesting) were good, although the oysters were better consumed alone. Not a great deal can be said of the salmon salad other than it was a decent dish, well-presented and competently prepared. However, we soon realised it would pale into insignificance once our mains arrived. My date always seems to have much better luck with her orders than mine, and I was immediately consumed by food envy when she was presented with her medium-rare wagyu 8 sirloin. It was picture perfect – so rosy red I could taste it with my eyes. This isn’t to say that my order of the wagyu 6 ribeye was in any way bad; on the contrary, it was excellent. It’s just that the wagyu 8 exceeded excellence. It was sublime. As much as I’m loathe to use the expression ‘melt in the mouth’, there are few other ways to describe the meat. My date had to fight off my repeated advances as I scavenged for another bite. There was really no need for dessert (the mains were sweet enough), but we were nonetheless intrigued by the peppercorn sorbet and the crème caramel served with macadamia brittle and banana ice cream. Both dishes were good – the peppercorn sorbet in particular – but the sirloin was always going to be a tough act to follow and our minds were still stuck 20 minutes in the past. The bill (for two) 1x Oysters Dhs140 1x Salmon salad Dhs65 1x Wagyu ribeye Dhs250 1x Wagyu sirloin Dhs320 1x French beans Dhs30 1x Tomato with mozzarella Dhs30 1x Asparagus with feta Dhs30 1x Sorbet Dhs45 1x Creme caramel Dhs45 2x Sparkling water Dhs50 Total (excluding service) Dhs1,005

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