What’s on going to London

Home away from home…

Oe are fortunate to have imported many of the world’s biggest names in hospitality to Dubai. From Coya and Indochina to Nammos, Zuma and Nobu, the list goes on. In recent years, however, we’ve seen more of our favorite local concepts make their way overseas. La Cantine has just opened in Mykonos, Gaia is exporting to Monaco, Opa is in St Tropez, and a handful of hotspots have taken up residence in London.

But with 7,000 kilometers between them, can the sister outposts compete with their desert-based siblings?

Where to dine?

Maine Mayfairmaine london

One of the UAE’s top local concepts, The Maine, had no problem making its mark in Mayfair. Proudly home to some of the biggest names in fashion for the first four weeks, the Maine Mayfair has earned its place as the talk of the town in no time. The two-story space, housed in a historic townhouse in Hanover Square, has a casual but cozy outdoor terrace on the ground floor, but step down and you’ll find a sultry brasserie, lit only by the glow of a few very glitzy chandeliers, small lamps on each of the luxury marble tables and an eerily bright open kitchen at the back of the room. It’s a weekday when we visit, and a glamorous four-piece jazz band plays in the middle of the room, providing a retro supper club-style atmosphere. On weekends, we’re told the entertainment kicks up a notch with cabaret-style dancers.

Those familiar with the Maine Land Brasserie in Dubai’s Business Bay will recognize many of the dishes on the menu, such as crispy fish tacos, stewed short ribs, Maine lobster and a selection of steaks. We couldn’t resist the tacos (around 90 Dhs), one of our favorite dishes in Dubai outposts, and they don’t disappoint here either. The lightly breaded fish balances out perfectly with the fresh pico de gallo and a drizzle of sour cream. We also try the T-bone (approx. 700 Dhs). Although grass-fed meat is not normally our first choice, the meat is tender enough and cooked to our medium-rare request. The restaurant bears many similarities to its original, however, the added element of entertainment seems to elevate this outpost from a grand restaurant to an exclusive cabaret club.

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro in London

bad boro

Externally, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro in London couldn’t be more opposite to the one in Dubai. In Dubai, Il Borro is located in the Turtle Lagoon of Jumeirah Al Nassem; a ground floor trattoria with a large outdoor terrace that overlooks the turtles as the sun sets behind Burj Al Arab. In London, we are shown a two-storey terraced building on busy Berkeley Street in Mayfair. Inside, however, we’re steeped in familiarity as the interiors effortlessly convey the premium warmth that Il Borro customers love. Dubai is steeped in the history of the London space, as our server immediately jumps into the brand’s timeline with genuine enthusiasm. The menu is almost identical to its original, which makes us wonder if the bestsellers are the same in both regions. We start with the pappa al pomodoro (approx. 71 Dhs), even if it is a little more rustic than we imagined. It’s hard to finish it all because we know we have a pasta course on the way. Choosing the tortelli con zucca e tartufo (approx. Dhs142), we slide into pieces of al dente tortellini filled with creamy pumpkin, topped with crispy pumpkin chunks and shavings of fresh truffles. Then we go for a filetto di branzino (about Dhs161). It’s a beautiful, delicate piece of sea bass, with perfectly crispy skin and served on a bright green bed of pea puree and mint. Our final stop is a light and fluffy tiramisu, which has just the right balance of cream and caffeine.

SushiSamba Heron Tower

sushi samba london

Although Palm Tower Dubai may not have been the origin of this iconic restaurant, it has certainly made a name for itself in the last year. SushiSamba opened in London’s Heron Tower in 2012, followed by Covent Garden in 2018 and Dubai in 2021 (as well as an outpost in Las Vegas and a restaurant and beach club soon to open in Doha). The restaurant occupies the 38th and 39th floors of the Liverpool Street skyscraper, with views of The Gherkin, The Shard and many of London’s best-known landmarks, whether you dine next to the restaurant’s huge floor-to-ceiling windows. , or its vast outdoor terrace (home to SushiSamba’s famous orange leaf tree).

sushisamba london food

The menu has more Brazilian dishes than the Dubai outpost, which focuses a bit too much on sushi and not enough on samba for our taste. Taking the opportunity, we go full Carioca on the sector – but first, it’s a sushi entree. We try the London samba (about 87 Dhs), which manages to pack tuna, salmon, hamachi, avocado, asparagus and onion into a neat roll, topped with hishiho miso, crispy yuba and with a yuzu vinaigrette. Despite the mix of ingredients, the flavors come together well for a refreshing start to a meal.

A more unusual choice of maki is the el topo roll (about 73 Dhs). We were intrigued by the melted fresh cheese, which is based on salmon, jalapeño, shiso and finished with crispy shallots, spicy mayonnaise and eel sauce. It divides the table due to the unusual textures and use of heat in a typically cold dish. It’s worth a try, but we’re still trying to decide whether we liked it or not.

At any restaurant with a menu featuring gyoza, we’ll try said gyoza, and SushiSamba is no exception. The only option is wagyu gyoza (about Dhs92), but that’s fine with us. We receive small tight packages, pinched on the sides to prevent the juice from escaping. Inside is an explosion of flavor, bursting with delicious beef, mashed kabocha and sweet soy that disappears effortlessly in just one bite.

For our main course, or “large plate”, we share a Rio grande churrasco (about Dhs248), which includes slices of rib eye, chorizo ​​and filet mignon on a single platter. Unfortunately the kitchen ran out of farofa (a traditional quinoa-like side dish) so we opted for rice, but it also came with plenty of chimichurri and signature dips. The meat was well seasoned and cooked so that it was just pink in the middle. Having a mix of cuts to choose from is a meat lover’s dream, so we were more than satisfied, mopping up the juices until the very end.

Where to stay

Jumeirah’s Carlton Tower

jumeirah london the carlton tower

Jumeirah and Dubai go together like Burj Khalifa and selfies. The city is home to 12 Jumeirah properties (soon to be 13), with another in Abu Dhabi, so most of us are well used to its level of hospitality. But we were a little worried how the brand would translate to London’s upscale Knightsbridge. Jumeirah’s Carlton Tower has recently undergone a huge refurbishment and now has a very luxurious and welcoming feel. The redesign aimed to let in a lot more natural light, creating large windows overlooking Cadogan Place park. The hotel is home to a large indoor pool, housed in its chic spa with luxurious day beds surrounded by sheer white curtains, which are perched on the mezzanine level under an arched window that floods the room with even more natural light. .

Rooms are well designed and comfortable, finished in typical Jumeirah style. We stay in a balcony room which has a small ledge just wide enough to stand on and enjoy the view over the park and the busy streets of London. The first thing that struck us was the size of the TV – pinned to the wall was a cinema-sized screen and across the room was a plush velvet L-shaped sofa. The second thing was the level of detail that helped make the experience personalized and special. We received leather key cards bearing our initials; monogrammed slippers in the softest material we’ve ever touched; and on the coffee table was a scrabble board with edible cookie letters, spelled out with our names. Talk about a warm welcome.

al mare jumeirah london the carlton tower

Al Mare is the hotel’s signature restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from its ground-floor location. It’s a stylish space that feels sleek and upscale, with tables dressed in white against quilted leather booths and upholstery in royal blue hues. Mornings features a menu of classic breakfast items, plus a small buffet of fruit, cold cuts, and pastries. Afternoon, the à la carte menu features modern Italian cuisine, with a focus on fresh seafood, ranging from crudo and pesce to a series of insalatas, homemade pastas and entrees.

The hotel is just a five-minute walk from Knightsbridge tube station, and if you keep walking you’ll reach Hyde Park. Piccadilly Circus and Buckingham Palace are also within walking distance, so anyone looking to stay in the heart of the city should definitely consider Jumeirah’s Carlton Tower.