There are a few venues in town which have a considerable amount of hype surrounding them. Rüya (which apparently translates to ‘dream’ in Turkish) is definitely one of those restaurants — many a foodie has been and raved about their experience. While Turkish cuisine is not particularly at the top of my list (sorry, maybe I’ve just not sampled the right dishes), I did walk into brunch with an open mind. Dining al fresco on a perfect January afternoon with new friends, what could be better?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
Like Aji, it seems I’m diverging from the majority opinion, but based on my experience, I don’t understand how Rüya is so highly rated.
- Design. Overall, the ‘Mediterranean chic’ (a term I just made that up) works well here. Overlooking the Dubai Marina, especially in cooler weather is a true bonus, as is the size of the venue. I love a modern space, and the interior of Rüya definitely delivers.
- The “Keskek” (a barley risotto w/pulled lamb and baby onions). While many of the dishes were forgettable (presentation was nice enough, proteins were cooked well, but nothing to live up to my expectations or was particularly memorable), this main was a big hit. I loved how hearty, rustic, and filling it was, and such a nice departure from overly presented and too complicated dishes.
- Egg porn for days. If gooey eggs of all varieties are your thing, then you will be in egg heaven at this venue. I would’ve maybe stopped with one or two versions, but not Rüya.
- Moët all day! While we did not participate in the champagne option, it was wonderful to see a fantastic brand on offer (even it is was AED625 for the bubble package).
- Appropriate musician and volume. There was a traditional guitarist as well as a DJ. Both did an admirable job setting the tone and engaging guests.
- Service. I seem to be hitting one end of the spectrum or the other in 2017. Overall, I found the service formulaic and too basic for a restaurant of this caliber.
- For brunch, there was no explanation whatsoever about what we would be receiving, in what order, etc.
- Upon arrival, the hostess asked us if we wanted to start in the bar, but didn’t give an explanation of why or what was on offer if we did.
- I’ll admit I like to engage with waiters and waitress. I like a rapport, I like a smile and joke and would rather avoid feeling like the wait staff is there simply to bring me drinks. While everyone is allowed personality in their own way, a smile or certain level of at least pretending like you want to be there goes a long way.
- I didn’t know there was a salad/cheese bar inside (?) until a friend came back from an exploratory session with a place. All of this could’ve been cleared up with a quick, “Here’s what’s on offer…” Or:
- A menu. No, I’m not kidding. We had to practically beg for not only a menu, but the general outline of the brunch. With as many dishes as we were served, there was no way of knowing how to pace our meal. Look, eating food isn’t that complicated, but when being served somewhere between 10-20 plates, it’s a good idea to know what to look forward to, if anything is missing, or when to say ‘slow down, we need a minute,’ which leads me to:
- Timing. If you combine the above (inadequate service + no idea of the menu), we still somehow managed to receive 8 dishes in the span of 10 minutes. Additionally, there was some mix up as to when the brunch actually started, so we began our meal nearly an hour into the brunch (which I think hurt the crowding of food we received throughout the afternoon). By the end, we were more or less rushing through the mains and didn’t manage to try a single dessert.
- Too small tables. A four top should be able to enjoy a few starters without needing another table. Oops. We ended up borrowing another table to hold all our food (no, I’m serious). While I appreciate wanting to create a crowded dynamic, or perhaps someone liked the look of the tables, however, they were simply too small (and I really dislike having to put my purse on the ground — which I realize is a really Dubai thing, but seriously guys…)
- Not enough cocktails. On the house package (again, no menu), there was a red, a white, a forgotten Rose (which ran out halfway through service), and two signature cocktails: a Bloody Mary (which I didn’t see anyone take advantage of) and a whiskey Tom Collins (not a Tom Collins). I would’ve loved to seen something traditionally Turkish here (or, at least my beloved Mojito).
- Similarly on this topic, why not a larger pour? While I know leaving the bottle near the table would be difficult and that wines poured at a cooler temperature can come to room temperature too fast, but it would’ve saved our server a trip or two.
- A vodka bar that was not in operation. Why was it there?
- Fatty proteins. While many of the grilled meats were smoky and delicious, nearly all of he mains came with a thick cut of fat on them. It might be a personal taste or traditionally Turkish way of serving these meats, but the inclusion of so much fat was a real disappointment for me.
- Desserts? So, apparently, there were sweets (including Turkish Delight), but they were on a small buffet next to some of the cold starters, that I completely missed (and were not pointed out to us after the mains were cleared). Management, either be 100% ala carte or highlight to guests that there is a buffet.
Would I go back? Sorry, not at this time. While I do love an ala carte experience, this one is a miss for me (and the house beverage package at AED425 feels a bit steep).
I guess I’ll have to keep dreaming… Or, go try Besh over at the Sheraton MOE.
(And thanks to Lucky Voice for ending the disappointing afternoon on a high note!).
A to Za’atar was a guest of Rüya. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.