Kitchen 45 at Embassy

‘Less is more’ is not an adage that rings true in Dubai. As if not content with successfully transplanting some of the London club scene’s biggest names (from Amika to Mahiki to Movida), it seems that the Dubai doppelgängers of these brands are consciously bigger, ergo better, than their original. Of course, there’s one small flaw in this philosophy, namely that there simply aren’t enough people to fill these oversized venues every evening. This was how it felt sitting in the exclusive dining area of Embassy Club at 8.30pm on a Wednesday night. I say ‘exclusive’ because my date and I were the only two people sat in the generously proportioned but sparsely populated restaurant. Our waiter assured us that more people were coming later, which might have been the case, though we couldn’t shake the notion that a smaller, more intimate and genuinely exclusive dining area would have better suited the club. Like the rest of the club, from the downstairs dancefloor to the bar, the restaurant level of Embassy is decked out in masculine reds and blacks, illuminated with subtle spotlighting and smattered with a douse of abstract art (thankfully the requisite flatscreen televisions screening Fashion TV are confined to the bar area). In one respect, it’s everything a high-end club-lounge-restaurant amalgamation should be; in another it holds no surprises whatsoever. This can also be said of the menu. While I was relieved by its modest size, no starter, main or dessert raised eyebrows or caused my date and I to argue over who was going to order what. Still, there was a regal appeal to each dish and I was happy to order cherry tomato tart topped with goat’s cheese and embellished with piquant onion marmalade – the latter two components proved to be a marriage of pungent nostalgia and an incisive tartness. Perhaps my only quibble was that the tartlet was a little crumbly and dry. My date’s duck, however, was disappointing: the meat was served in thin, lifeless slices that contained very little by way of the rich, fatty flavour that makes eating duck such a joy. The twinkling red beads of pomegranate did offer some respite for eye and palate, as did the wild Girolles mushrooms that sported a faint apricot aroma. The dishes were cleared in good time, but we couldn’t help noticing the service lacked the charisma you’d expect from a restaurant with a coat of arms above its name. Still, our mains arrived in a flash, and my date set about a sizeable yet unexciting rib-eye – it was competently cooked to order, but there was nothing about it or the sides with which it was served that would pry us away from one of Dubai’s many dedicated steakhouses. I had more luck with my order of soft, pink roast lamb embalmed in a crunchy, punchy mint crust, complemented by olive-enhanced potato. This was hearty, no-nonsense cooking that somehow jarred with the glitzy environs of Embassy (and certainly wasn’t imaginative enough to warrant its Dhs220 price tag). Our desserts (traditional Eton mess and blackberry crumble) arrived at the same time as the second group of customers that night. It was late and we could hear the low hum of the club downstairs: an indication, perhaps, that Embassy’s restaurant is very much an afterthought – or even an obligation – so that the management can tick all the boxes and have us believe that bigger is better. It’s a pity really. Some of the dishes (including the saccharine Eton mess that I polished off in spite of being full) were pretty good, but they were ultimately undone by the soulless setting. The bill (for two) 1x Sparkling water Dhs42 1x Tomato tart Dhs70 1x Duck breast Dhs90 1x Lamb Dhs210 1x Rib-eye steak Dhs220 1x Eton mess Dhs70 1x Blackberry crumble Dhs70 Total (including 10% tax and 10% service charge) Dhs772

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