Wednesday, January 26, 2011
In a nutshell: fabulous food, excellent service and fantastic value!
The last time I ate at Aquarium at the Dubai Creek Yacht Club was in 1996 to celebrate my A'Level results! 15 years later, encouraged by my Entertainer voucher, I thought it was about time to try it again. Simon had eaten there 6 years ago and remembered the meal as being excellent and I'm pleased to say that our dinner was an unequivocal 5/5. The restaurant is upstairs from The Boardwalk and the floor to ceiling windows give great views out onto the Creek, if you are sitting with your back to the window then you still have a great view of the huge aquarium (apt considering the restaurant name) and its muticoloured fish.
The staff were all very friendly and we were surprised at how busy it was - we heard numerous diners greeted by name so they must have a loyal following of regulars. I had to change my chair because the table we were given had those low, armchair-style seats that I never find comfortable to sit in when I'm eating. There was no fuss made about my request though and the 'proper' dining chair I was given was much more to my liking.
The menu offers a fixed price 4 course dinner...for only Dhs 160! The first course was sushi and the second course choices were carpaccio of salmon or a crab trio. I don't like raw fish (and can't eat it anyway since I'm pregnant) but decided that selecting the fixed menu and then asking to change the options was not quite the way it is meant to work. I later saw that the sushi appetiser was actually a cooked prawn over rice (I'm sure it has a specific Japanese name!) and a California roll - so no raw fish after all. Oh well. There is also a fixed price menu at Dhs 190 that allows you to choose any three courses from the a la carte menu, barring a few expensive dishes that are asterixed as excluded. Simon and I did the maths to work out whether the fixed menu or the voucher would be most economical and the voucher won by Dhs 100. There are also fresh fish and seafood laid out 'market style' that you can choose from but we found the menu was missing information on the available side orders; our waiter informed us that each side dish was Dhs 18 but there was no actual list of sides to choose from - small thing to improve on the menu.
My starter of scallops wrapped in smoked salmon on a bed of tagliatelli vegetables (Dhs 74) was excellent. The scallops were perfectly cooked through without making them chewy and the salmon gave them that extra bit of flavour since scallops can be a little bland sometimes. I loved the presentation of the vegetables and I read in a recipe book the other day that you can make these vegetable ribbons by using a potato peeler - I'm going to try it later this week. Simon's prawn spring rolls (Dhs 58) were also beautifully presented and tasted delicious - not greasy even though they were deep fried - with a zesty alcoholic lime dressing.
We both opted for the surf 'n' turf for our main course. This wasn't actually on the a la carte menu, it was only on the set menu but they said we could have it. We were a little surprised at the price of Dhs 140 since the whole 4 course menu was Dhs 160 but as we were getting one free with the voucher and we both really fancied some cigali (Omani lobster), we went ahead with it regardless. The portion size was perfect with just enough potato and vegetables to eat with the fillet steak and lobster - I wasn't able to finish all my steak but my human food vacuum polished it off for me. We had a small consternation when I requested no garlic because the waiter informed us that all their sauces were made with a stock including garlic. Luckily we did not have a repeat of an experience I had at Hunter's Steakhouse at the Westin Hotel a few years ago where the chef came to see me and I had to tell him to simply add some wine and cream to the steak juices to make a non-garlic sauce! The chef at Aquarium made a lovely mushroom sauce for me. The whole main course was fantastic.
Now for dessert...the only disappointment of the meal. We had planned to share a mixed berry pavlova and a dessert that sounded delicious on the menu: coconut tart with lime cheesecake topped with pineapple and coconut ice-cream. As we were both pretty full after the main course we decided to go with just 1 dessert and the coconut tart was (sadly) the dish of preference. The tart was not the light pastry I expected but a heavy base that tasted more like a crumble topping (think mouthful of dry flour), the cheesecake was rock hard and tasteless and the ice-cream was full of ice particles. We saw a pavlova getting delivered to another table and it looked divine. Despite this disappointing end to the meal, I still feel that the overall experience and the non-dessert food was delicious and that the value for money for such a meal was amazing. We have 2 more vouchers for Aquarium and I have a feeling we'll be using them both!
Labels: Dubai restaurant reviews - 5/5