I’ll be upfront and say the name of this restaurant is a bit off-putting. My inner feminist wasn’t all too happy to the point where I had to tell myself to get over my feelings and just go for a nice meal already, but let this be a lesson that impressions mean something. Allegedly this name ties to an actual Miss India, and it’s her choice, but still… I can quickly think of at least ten better titles in the span of a few minutes, none of which are borderline insulting to women. Why must she be ‘Little?’ Why can’t she be a ‘Ms.’ instead of a ‘Miss’?
Ahem. I digress.
I’ll admit, on this particular Friday night, my expectations weren’t exceedingly high. There was a month-long soft launch and official opening on November 1st, so I walked into our November 3rd reservation to Little Miss India willing to give a bit of a pass to the recently opened restaurant. Following signs from the vast lobby of the Fairmont the Palm, we found our way downstairs and outside. While I seem to go back and forth on how my reviews are laid out, in this instance, a friendly pros and cons list feels the most appropriate.
- The service. Warm, genuine, and informed. This is how I prefer wait staff around the world. Real engagement with customers makes a lasting impression and pushes the level of a meal that much further. We received excellent service throughout our meal, and I saw our waiter engage equally with all the tables in our section.
- The food. Delicious, generous portions are another easy way to keep people coming back. We both loved the lamb starter and the variety in our respective thalis. I also appreciated the acceptance that we are Wipipole™ and therefore prefer relatively mild heat, which the kitchen was happy to accommodate. Furthermore, unlike many an Indian restaurant in this town, this is not a molecular gastronomic event. Little Miss India is all about curries, kebabs and other familiar staples you would expect to find. Vegetarians, you will feel more than welcome here with plenty of options.
- The design. Bright contemporary colors are en vogue, as is unique artwork, a semi-open kitchen, and a one of a kind patio. Similar in design to Bombay Bungalow (which still gets the overall nod from me), the only misstep for me was the three tables set near the pass at the kitchen. What could’ve been a unique ‘chef’s table’ experience is now a black hole for guests and awkward for everyone.
- The value. Our thalis were priced at AED110 and AED130 respectively, and while Hubs came close to finishing his, I failed. Although we split a starter, you could order just the thali and have plenty to eat.
- The local water (!). Yes, friends, you can order the fancy (Voss) or the local (Fairmont Hotel). I was so impressed that there was an option. Can other restaurants please do more of this?
- The location. Fairmont the Palm isn’t the most convenient property to get to (our Careem captain missed the driveway — which was okay, I would’ve as well, but then without stairs actually into the hotel, we ended up walking up the slightly precarious driveway to reach the lobby). Once inside, I remarked, and Hubby agreed, we didn’t believe the property had initially been planned as a Fairmont — it lacks the glamour and overall wow factor I’ve come to expect from the brand. Furthermore, the actual location of Little Miss India within the hotel is problematic (at best). Downstairs, outside, past another restaurant… Sure, in the pleasant temperatures of November, this is just fine, but come May through October, this is a sweaty ask of guests. Quite honestly, I’m surprised there is not an alternate entrance via the hotel.
- Lack of restrooms. I cannot fathom how in 2017 that a refurbished restaurant would not take into account the addition of toilets INSIDE the venue. No, diners at Little Miss India are sent OUTSIDE, once again past the pool and another restaurant to what is essentially a pool bathroom. No thanks!
- Don’t seat people where they want to be seated. After we were shown to the dining room, the hostess attempted to place us at The Worst Table In The Restaurant (every venue has one). As I wanted to enjoy our dinner, I tried in my best non-high maintenance way to say, ‘Please, no’ and we were seated elsewhere. We watched (gleefully) as five other guests were shown the exact same table and one by one, they all declined. Why have this table at all?
- Stop with the selfies. A trio sat near us (one mom, one dad, and one kid). The mom took nearly incessant photos of herself throughout the meal, rarely interacting with her family. Is that what passes for going out these days?
Would I go back to Little Miss India? Hubs and I discussed this on the ride home and decided this was a perfect weeknight restaurant. The restaurant would be nice for a Monday or Wednesday, but it’s not going to be where you spend your weekend money.
Where’s your favorite place to eat on the Palm?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Little Miss India. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.