Having dined at the incomparable STAY by Yannick Alleno, I was more than happy to return to the One & Only The Palm. In our many years in Dubai, we had never ventured to 101, so I was delighted by an invitation. Not that I needed an further encouragement, but throw in some Roederer champagne, and you’ve got a beautiful weekend night in the making. For our visit, we were sampling the special Champagne Menu, featuring a bottle of Roederer, priced at AED700 per person. The meal includes three courses.
On arrival (remember you’re going ALL the way to the end of the Palm Jumeirah), we bypass the offer of the buggy and, given the cool weather, decide to make the long walk through the property on foot. Located at the further end of the One & Only The Palm, our approach is basically only an option three months of the year (and probably in shorter heels than I was wearing). I’m impressed by the overwater structure — it’s modern and sophisticated without being overly ‘beachy’ or anything approaching ‘shabby chic.’ We’re seated alfresco (the layout does well to maximize outdoor spaces), but the interior of the venue is just as lovely. With low lighting, candles, and wait staff dressed in what I would deem ‘spa chic’ the restaurant feels low key, even if the pricing and how people are dressed do not. The staff approach is a bit more ‘hands off’ than I prefer, but if you’re looking for an uninterrupted style visit, then 101 is your place.
We decide to begin with a cocktail and choose from the long list offered. Unfortunately, we’re not quite done with our drinks as the first course is delivered. Personally, I would’ve rather waited so that we could enjoy the champagne with the first course, rather than try and suck down our first round of drinks, however, the servers seemed quite motivated to get our meal started. Fortunately, our starters are luxury defined. With two options for each course, supportive Hubs says ‘go for it’ because he knows I like food (and photos). After a very cheesy amuse bouche, we receive Foie Gras Terrine, with Champagne jelly and date chutney and Lobster Thermidor White, with mushroom and baby spinach. As the world’s only foodie who doesn’t care for the taste of Foie, I let Hubs have the majority of the plate. We debate why I don’t like foie after all this time, and I think it’s because for whatever reason, while my palate likes rich things, the terrine is simply too much richness at once. After a taste, we both agree that more ‘crunch’ should be available on the plate somewhere, as the soft terrine does not have enough to balance against. Fortunately, the lobster is heavenly. A significant portion for a starter, it is sweet and lavish — with the mushroom and spinach adding just the right touches of earthiness. Both dishes are enhanced by the bubbles and relative sweetness of the champagne.
Although we ended up waiting awhile between courses (this is intentional, but the intent goes just a bit longer than I would prefer), the plating of both the Seabass “La Plancha’’ Truffle leek fondue, with yuzu pearl and champagne beurre blanc and the Slow Cooked Poultry Supreme, with Artichoke and green asparagus risotto, supreme champagne sauce is memorable. Unfortunately, the taste of both dishes doesn’t quite reach the level of the starters. The sea bass offers requisite crispy skin and is cooked well, but does not quite reach memorable levels. Similarly, while we enjoy the poultry, with a bit of finesse it feels something we could probably recreate at home. Should you choose the plates ala carte, the sea bass is AED220 and a similar chicken dish goes for AED150.
For dessert, we receive a small bowl (with a relatively unnecessary saucer) of Raspberry Sorbet, Fresh raspberry marinated with champagne, coconut foam. Both Hubs and I don’t end up finishing this dish, which feels like a fundamental afterthought and doesn’t seem to add much or be enhanced by the champagne. The term ‘basic’ gets thrown around.
For suggestions, I have a few.
- I think a few vegetarian options would do well on this menu. After all, there are some who don’t (or can’t) eat seafood, so that really doesn’t leave them with many choices. While I’m confident the kitchen would be happy to accommodate this sort of request, I think it’s better to be included from the start.
- Additionally, I would start over on the dessert course as it finishes on a rather mediocre level and not in line with the gorgeous starters.
- The pacing of the meal was strange throughout. I’m not sure if it was due to the knowledge of our visit, or some miscommunications, but I prefer a more steady pace.
- Hubs and I both agreed the champagne should be popped at the table and kept by the table. While the bottle was presented to us (and there was a generous pour), we really wanted an ice bucket with ‘our’ Roederer next to us. #bougielife
- And finally, for the cost, I think a salad course would be a good idea (tableside Ceasar comes to mind). Petit fours would also be welcomed.
Would I go back? While I’m not sure I would go back for this specific menu, I do think the atmosphere is one of a kind. Additionally, the tapas menu looks a treat, so I might need to return before it gets too hot.
Who is 101 best for? Impressing out of town guests. Slow Saturday afternoons. An anniversary or birthday.
Have you been to 101 Lounge and Bar? Where is your favorite place to dine on the Palm?
A to Za’atar was a guest of 101 and the One & Only the Palm. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.