With so much going on this year, I’ve only made it over to City Walk a handful of times. Needing to remedy this situation and always up for a great meal and new venue, I made plans to go to Dragonfly by Tim Raue. For those not in the culinary know, Chef Tim Raue is listed in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants at a well-deserved #34. The restaurant, located on the main boulevard of City Walk is staffed by two of his key team members, including head chef Christian Singer and restaurant manager Patricia. We spoke to both individuals at length, and it is evident how passionate they are about the brand and the food that is produced.
While it is still early days for this part of the City Walk development (residences remain empty, as do most of the storefronts) I cannot tell you how wonderfully delighted I was by the food at this location. While STAY by Yannick Alleno certainly has its charms, based on food (including taste, preparation, and presentation), I will state that Dragonfly is putting up the best fine dining in Dubai. Full stop. Pretty impressive for a restaurant that opened in late November.
The photos of the food below do no justice whatsoever to the taste of each plate. And while there is a rather intimidating eight-course tasting menu, if you do not have the time, do not despair — each dish is something spectacular and well priced for what is delivered.
What does the team at Dragonfly do well?
- Every single dish. Every single component. Each plate, no matter the protein or placement within the overall menu, consisted of a perfect balance of savory, sweet, texture and complex flavors. While there are some excellent restaurants in Dubai, I have yet to see any other venue deliver an entire meal with such absolute cohesion as Dragonfly.
- An uncommon menu. I certainly won’t be the first or last to point this out, but the version of proteins at Dragonfly and presentation of plates are truly unique in the UAE. If you are looking for real originality, look no further.
- Working with allergies. While I certainly should have notified the kitchen that my dining partner had issues with seafood and nuts, Chef Christian and his team seamlessly made changes to the menu and offered plates that were easily at the level of what I was enjoying, without question.
- Overcoming food source challenges. There is no doubt that UAE represents its own unique landscape when it comes to sourcing ingredients. Chef Christian is currently working with 30+ vendors to ensure the quality of food is where the standards of the brand should be.
- While the wasabi langoustine (AED88) is one of the best-known signature dishes (and certainly worth going back for), I personally put the Peking Duck, Tim Raue style (AED128) in the list for my top dishes of 2016. Yes, it’s that good, and no, I’m not going to shut up about it.
What, if any, are my notes for improvement?
- The lack of an alcohol license is particularly devastating at this venue. It’s not that I *have* to have booze with my meal, it’s more the level in which a special menu like this one can be enhanced with alcohol. With finesse like the plates at Dragonfly, it’s the type of meal to be savored and enjoyed over a delicate wine pairing. To start with a glass of champagne and finish with an aperitif. To sit and enjoy a cool sip of wine on a pleasant afternoon. While I do recognize the team has done their best with the selection of house made ‘Jine’ (that’s the Dragonfly team’s take on juice + wine, no alcohol) I was left with an incomplete feeling and the wish that Dragonfly had attached itself to the W or DIFC. Still, if you’re looking for something better than colorful and over the top mocktails, give me a glass of Jine any time.
- While I enjoyed the interior, I don’t think it matches the level of food from the kitchen, which may be an intentional decision on the side of the restaurant. Even for Tim’s restaurants in Germany, there is a certain casual level — a belief that guests are made to feel welcome no matter what (waiters, for example, dress down in modern, but chic tops and trousers, but stay away from traditional suits). Personally, when dining on food of this caliber, I prefer a more formal approach (STAY is a bit over the top, but Social by Heinz Beck is a good comparison), however, this is a minor point. Although, I will say the red topped tables are going to be difficult to keep scratch free and wish the team the best on this effort!
Would I go back? I wouldn’t hesitate.
Should you go? Yes, immediately.