I’m always a fan of locally developed restaurants and chefs, and the team of Nick and Scott are no exception. Their Folly restaurant at the Madinat is one I consistently recommend, both on the radio, to visitors, and really, just anyone looking for a great time. So, when I learned the team was behind the recently opened Verve Brasserie at the new Grand Movenpick in Media City, I knew I had to check things out.
To start, we’re warmly greeted by everyone. And, as it usually stands when I go to new places now, I immediately see some familiar faces from previous restaurants I have visited. However, given we’re out celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary, the turnover in the Dubai F&B industry is a discussion for another day… When asked, Hubs and I decided to sit at the bar for a quick drink. As I look around, I note the interior is polished and modern, as expected. There’s also a grand staircase which leads to a private dining room, but with 80 covers in the restaurant, I happily agree with the design. Honestly, of the restaurants I’ve been to in the recent past, this might be the first one with seating under 100. There’s also a wine cellar and an open kitchen, which is set off near the entrance.
While I get into conversations with both Chefs Nick and Jorge and GM Francesco, Hubs talks to the bartender, the charismatic Keagan. When I turn around, there’s a glass of prosecco waiting for me — now that’s customer service! We stay long enough to enjoy some reasonably priced bar snacks (Freshly Baked Pita with horseradish and cucumber, AED20 and Smoked cod with aioli, AED30), as Keagan makes us two drinks. Hubs’ take on a Negroni, the Honey I’m Home, AED58, and my Victorian, AED53, which is a lovely blend of strawberry, basil, and mint. Honestly, as I will reiterate below, stopping at the bar, or planning to start or end the night at the bar with a few bites and cocktails might be your best plan for visiting Verve.
We move to sit in the main dining room, and there is plenty to choose from, including — as I am always happy to see — locally sourced oysters from Dibba Bay, with oysters priced at AED14 per piece. Hubs decided this is where he would start his meal, and they arrive with appropriate sauces. We asked for advice from the team on what to order from the menu, and they send us Seared Tuna, with spring onion, lime, jalapeno and coriander, AED75. Also, because this is Dubai…Burrata, (with mache salad, truffle, and lemon thyme pesto), AED98. I also have my eye on the Wagyu tartare, but for this trip, we decide to pass. The seared tuna is our favorite, although it could use just a touch more salt. I’ve definitely had better Burrata in the city and found the truffle taste just a bit too much for my palate.
Next up is the Lemon and garlic butter grilled Omani shrimps, AED145. They arrived covered in parsley, which we thought was a bit over the top and I don’t get a ton of garlic butter or lemon taste. The texture of the shrimps isn’t precisely what I want, nor is the price, and of all the dishes, I’m not sure I would order it again. For a return visit, I would be more interested in the Dressed Crab Claw meat instead.
For mains, we’re delighted with the Five spiced confit duck leg served with pancetta, white beans, and chorizo sausage, AED135, and 7oz fillet of Wagyu with creamed mushroom ragout, AED225. Several sides, including the creamiest cauliflower gratin we’ve ever tasted accompany the mains. Both proteins are cooked to perfection, but it is the perfect medium-rare Wagyu which wins out for me. I’d happily order both again, and note that by this point we are quite full.
As we’re interested in another drink from the talented Keagan, we opt to have the Pick Me Up, although I ask for mine sans coffee. Two desserts, a deliciously rich Vanilla Cheesecake, AED48 and a light and not too sweet Strawberry and basil Meringue, AED48, are also enjoyed at the bar.
Overall, I think the menu reads well and was happy to see choices for vegetarian diners. Price points feel mostly in line with other dining outlets of this caliber. While I find perhaps the soundtrack a bit too loud, and perhaps not the best fit for the restaurant, the service and staff are clearly well trained and proud of what is on offer at Verve. Furthermore, while I’ve never particularly seen Media City as a special foodie spot (no offense to Media One or Radisson Blu Media City), I think the team at Verve could be on to something by offering up a step above what’s out there just steps away from the bustling offices of Media City and Knowledge Village.
Would I go back to Verve? I would, especially if I had a lunch appointment in Media City. Their business lunch looks like they provide quite a bit of value for money.
Who is Verve best for? Date nights, or a great spot for visiting parents. Or, go for a quick drink at the bar before your evening kicks off.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Verve. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.