Urban Bar & Kitchen

To get to the Mövenpick’s new gastro pub concept you have to traipse through a buffet restaurant in the hotel lobby, complete with diners, and descend a set of stairs. Not the best start upon visiting this place. That said, it doesn’t seem to deter people. When we stopped by on a Wednesday night the place was bustling, with nearly all of the tables in the main bar occupied by lively young professionals. To present a venue as a ‘gastro pub’, to us means more than just a menu. It’s a whiff of cool and a scent of class. By having an admirably priced wagyu burger (Dhs75 in the case of Urban) on an informed menu of pub classics (think pots of mussels instead of egg and chips), a venue like this gets halfway there. But to truly pitch yourself as a gastro pub you need to be somewhere foodies will gravitate to and the environment needs to fit that. What you have in this case is a new local with some modern touches that, incidentally, sells decent food. It’s a nice enough spot, with the low furniture and ceilings creating a secluded, intimate environment. And, although there’s a separate restaurant area to the rear of the venue opposite an open kitchen, most diners choose to eat in the bar. A few minor quibbles however let things down. Head to the toilets and there’s a sign which jovially invites ladies to head right as, ‘ladies are always right’. When you pay the bill, the receipt returns with the advice: ‘I have eight kids and a Porsche to feed. Please give generously.’ This is bad uncle joke territory and as edgy as having a ‘keep calm and carry on’ sign. Other oddities include a flower and LED light feature above the bar, which reminded us of a Christmas decoration, and the mildly annoying trend for staff to squat down, enabling them to talk to you eye-to-eye. (We are not children, we’re not in TGI Fridays and we know what you’re doingÂ…) That said, with a smart new interior, a good menu and staff that are so eager to please it verges on the point of fear, this is a sound nightspot. With booths complete with TVs for sport, and intimate curved couches for catching up with your mates, if you live in JLT you’ll find little to fault with this new pub.

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