New restaurants are fun, aren’t they? Personally, I enjoy dining somewhere with no pre-conceived opinions (although if you follow any of the usual Dubai foodies on Instagram, by now you’ve now probably seen either brunch or dinner coverage — sorry for spoiling things for you, gang). For our meal at Morah, we started our evening with a quick drink downstairs at hipster brother restaurant Weslodge (insanely mad props to bar manager Isaac for kicking off our night in a memorable way). After finishing our delicious cocktails, we rode up the elevator to Morah (located on the 71st and 72nd floor of the JW Marriott Marquis).
Let’s see what the website has to offer, shall we?
Morah is poised to bring diners the vibrant and exciting flavors of the Eastern and Coastal Mediterranean. Morah, originally launched as the wildly successful Byblos in Toronto and Miami Beach (name changed due to local trademark), is located in the stunning two-storey space at the top of the JW Marriott Marquis.
This renowned world traveler is set to become part of Dubai’s sophisticated culinary scene.
I’m going to brutally honest here — as much as Weslodge is among my favorite interiors in the city, Morah is among my least favorite. The wicker chairs (Quelle horreur!), fake palm trees, unflattering pinkish and turquoise tones (!?), uneven ‘shabby chic’ tables, and the monstrosity of a crystal chandelier made me feel as if I had stepped onto a Celebrity Cruise (circa 1985) and was waiting for a magician to step out and start his act. Fortunately, my issues with the decor had no impact on the food or service (both of which delivered at the level I expected).
Fortunately, for the most part, the food was a treat. For our invitation, we were able to enjoy Michelin award winning Chef Maria Jose San Roman’s menu (she worked in conjunction with the executive chef), who was in town for one night only as a festive way to kick off the launch of the restaurant. As a hostess, she was wonderfully approachable and spent a few minutes at our table discussing olive oil. 🙂
We started out on an odd note with some drive by saffron potatoes (a minute portion placed on the table without explanation), which were apparently our amuse bouche (even if they had been explained, I didn’t think they did a particularly fantastic job of setting the mood, nor was the presentation anything to get excited about).
Strange spuds aside, our first course was Autumn Summer vegetables, which unfortunately opened the meal on a rather bland, strangely textured note. With the majority of the table not finishing their course, we had to hope the kitchen understood our thoughts on the matter. Sea salt or some sort of savory note would’ve gone far in this dish, as would a different temperature (sorry gang, lukewarm is never a correct way to plate).
Our second course (and the highlight for me) was the Red Mullet Fillet (served with saffron breadcrumbs). I loved everything about the plate — perfectly cooked fish, flavorful components to the dish, the right amount of texture — this is what I had been expecting.
Next was the winner for presentation, the Black Rice, and tuna fish sashimi. With a nearly translucent piece of fish covering the black rice, it certainly wasn’t made for squeamish diners. While I enjoyed it and appreciated the complexity of technique and flavor, I also wonder if two fishy dishes in a row were the right call…
Our main was Stewed Beef w/bone marrow and saffron tapioca. After the fish, nice to enjoy a protein with a bit more substance, and also the perfect portion size. While I think the other dishes were more in line with the Mediterranean theme of the venue, the plate was luxury on a plate (even if it didn’t fit a particular style of cuisine).
Our meal closed on Hojiblanca evoo ice cream, which for me, after the amount of food and drinks we’d consumed was a fantastically light balance to end things on (and was served with bee pollen!). There were no petit fours, but I’m not sure if I could have eaten them even if they had been presented!
As far as I can tell from the regularly posted menu, we received many items that would not be available (should you decide to visit). In fact, in reviewing the standard menu, I see a lot of delicious plates I wouldn’t mind trying (six types of Pide!) and a cocktail menu that definitely deserves some exploration (alcoholic tea service FTW!). The Friday brunch also looks to be a lot of fun. I wish I could give you some indication on the pricing, but as of now, the online menu has not posted the costs.
Would I go back? Yes. Even if the decor is straight up not my style (almost to the point of distraction), I can still appreciate the incredible views and elevated Mediterranean dining. Given we had a special menu to sample, I am very curious to see what a regular meal service would be like. For a great night to impress out of town guests (or celebrate something special), I would suggest a double billing at Weslodge for drinks and Morah for dinner (or vice versa).
Do you have plans to visit Morah? What are you most looking forward to?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Morah. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.