Canadian import Weslodge has been on my radar for awhile. While the timing wasn’t particularly ideal (I had just stuffed about a kilo of sushi in my face a few hours previously), when an invite came from a dear friend on Tuesday night, how was I to say no? Upon arrival to the JW Marriott Marquis (a special favorite of mine, given that it is the tallest hotel in the world, and I wrote a novel about a hotel), we were directed to the right side of the lobby and took the elevator to the 68th floor. Much like the Emirates Towers, the lift has a view onto SZR (great way to impress your out of town friends before even stepping in the restaurant). As the venue takes up the entirety of the floor, the doors open into a large lobby, where a hostess greets you. Now, here’s where things get interesting. From everything I’d seen to date on social media, my interpretation of the restaurant was weirdly skewed. In my mind, I had pictured a different space than the one I walked into and was more than pleasantly surprised as we walked through the bar and lounge to the dining room. On a clear night, the views of Business Bay, Sheikh Zayed Road, and the iconic Burj Khalifa are brilliant.
The fit out of Weslodge is unlike anything in Dubai, so imagine an upscale saloon, but one that includes designer seating (if at weird heights — you might end up bumping your knees if you get a table in the lounge). Anyway, we were escorted over to a strange two top (you know the kind where you can’t look at your dining partner) and requested another table. During the time we walked around to enjoy the panoramic views, the section we were in became relatively busy, so we begged another move (this time to a four top with some room to breathe — and this will become important as we ordered multiple plates). Finally settled, we had a chance to look at the rather extensive (and perhaps almost too artisanal) cocktail list. I ordered a Gin & Tonic (which came back pink!) and my dining partner a cucumber gimlet. While the drinks menu was a bit overwhelming, it was explained that my G&T was made with bespoke tonic (hokay then).
With our knowledgeable server Alex walking us through the menu in a dedicated manner, it was decided we would have a selection of the Small, Raw, Salad and Large dishes (happy to have the plates whenever they were ready). First out were the crisp quail eggs, Foie gras parfait and (my fave of the evening) lobster poutine (also, one of the signature dishes at Weslodge). I didn’t find the quail eggs particularly crispy (nor would I order them again). I skipped the Foie gras (check my foodie card, but I hate the taste and texture) and went straight for the poutine, which was wonderful — salty, crispy, sweet. Sure, paying AED65 may seem like a lot for a plate of fries, but I think it is worth every dirham.
Following up closely, we were delivered the smoky beef tartare. With overwhelming amounts of horseradish, this was a too spicy pass for me, but my dining partner enjoyed the flavors. The Raw menu also offers quite a bit of seafood, which on a second trip, I would love to try. We also received the Weslodge Chop, a chopped salad which fell a bit flat for me (blame my SoCal roots, y’all). I wanted more crunch and punch. Don’t get me wrong, it does okay, I’ve just had better.
Our main was another signature dish, Southern Fried Chicken, which was served with brussels sprouts slaw and basted in a tobasco honey. Up against Marina Social’s grilled chicken thighs, Chef Atherton wins out. The chicken at Weslodge, while a generous portion and perfectly crispy, felt the slightest bit on the dry side. I also could have used a sauce (or accompaniment of dips) with the protein (there is a time and place for fancy mayo, and this is that moment). As my dining companion’s eyes were on pie, we were also presented with a mushroom pie. These two mains were accompanied by creamed corn (more polenta, less sweet and crunchy corn for my tastes) and onion rings (which, given my aforementioned kilo of sushi I had no room for). Based on all this food, we declined to order from the larger proteins menu (but if steak is your thing, just know there is an absolutely MASSIVE one-of-a-kind grill it will be cooked on).
Although we were relatively full, I felt it was my duty to compare the s’mores of Weslodge to my favorite dessert in the city (the campfire s’mores at The Hide). Spoiler alert: The Hide still wins. The s’more here (while not actually being on the menu) gets points for presentation (sorry, the picture I took of the dish doesn’t do it any justice), but lacks the overall richness and taste that The Hide promptly delivers on. We were also lured into sharing a piece of banoffee pie, but to be honest, I think I enjoy this treat better when it’s homemade (is that weird?).
For the most direct comparison in Dubai, I place Weslodge in a similar category as Marina Social (Marina wins on food and value, but Weslodge gets the nod on ambiance, service and overall experience). I would happily go back to both, and am especially interested in the rumored Saturday brunch offering from Weslodge (look for this later in the year).
Save some of your dizzles friends; this is not a cheap date. You could (hypothetically) come for a few small bites and a drink, but if you’re going to maximize the view (and you really should), best to come prepared. Although we were guests of the restaurant, a similar meal would cost AED300 per person (not accounting for a bottle of wine and a cocktail or two).
Have you been to Weslodge yet?
Did you bring some poutine home for me?