Decided to reserve a seat for lunch at Al Muntaha, a luxurious restaurant serving modern French cuisine at the 27th floor of Burj Al Arab (BAA), the world's first 7-star hotel, and an iconic symbol of Dubai. I had been scouting for that perfect restaurant to suit my taste, cater to my curiosity, and experience something special. I liked the altitude, and that it's French more than Middle Eastern cuisine. Bab Al Yam and Sahn Eddar were among the options. But I didn't want to be completely in the fog about the food, as I rarely visit a middle-eastern restaurant in Manila. With French though, at least I can enunciate "hollandaise" - but not "vichyssoise", okay? Give me shish tawouk or baba ghanoush and I'd hear crickets.
Burj Al Arab has a strict guest policy, thus if you aren't one, you don't get to visit even the lobby. Photography inside is regulated. Remember that in the UAE, taking photos of anyone without his consent can get you fined - or in jail. What makes BAA more restrictive to outsiders is its construction. The odd-shaped building stands over the waters of the Persian Gulf. There is a bridge that takes you to the hotel entrance. There's security that will double check your presence.
THE PERFECT TABLE
At 12:30 PM, I was allowed to take the elevator to the 27th floor. Lead to my table, I was surprised to get a beautiful spot with a view of the hazy skyline outside. The expanse of the Arabian ocean stretched out west until it faded into a haze.
I thought I'd be stuck with a table near a toilet, like the complaint of one guest I read somewhere. Lo and behold, mine was a prime seat. There's one waiter tasked to serve your 3-course meal. He then explains everything served on your table. Despite the air of sophistication and opulence (which may intimidate some folks), Al Muntaha basks in a relaxed atmosphere; not at all stuffy. I could ask anything I wanted about the food.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
I was served bottled water, then a platter of bread, with two kinds of butter. For my drink, I chose Green Topaz, which was their signature mocktail, over cola. It had this gorgeous shade of green that reminded me of a melon and apple concoction.
On a cup, Aboush Corn Jelly was presented, like an appetizer for the appetizer.
First course was Charred Yellow Tail Mackerel. A delectable red cabbage tea accentuates the beautifully plated appetizer, with Vongole Apple and Cucumber. There's a chilled crunchy plant on top which was surprisingly tasty, and I forgot to ask what it was. Under all the trappings is the rich-tasting mackerel. I wouldn't describe it as charred.
Then came Irish Grass-fed Tenderloin, which was cooked medium rare, as per my instruction, with sweet potato (camote) strudel, Hokkaido Squash and Miso Hollandaise. Tenderloin was exquisite, with a dash of rock salt. The camote strudel could have been a bit more chewy though, but this is a personal preference.
Dessert was Morello Cherry Marshmallow, an Almond Milk Emulsion with Coulis (koo-lee, thick sauce made from pureed and strained fruit) and Coconut Granita. I love these gourmet marshmallows thus it's hard to find fault. I'd have preferred a lime granita for that twist but this was delicious nevertheless.
The experience didn't take long, but I appreciated the laidback surrounding. In fact, there were few people during lunch. Meanwhile, at the other side of the room, few folks were having their afternoon tea already.
Notice the bluish hue of the photos. This was due to the thick bluish glass panels of the restaurant (and probably the whole building to contain the harsh and offensive summer sun), imparting a zen interior space.
It was a singular experience, eating at the world's 7-star hotel. If there was anything I took from this, it was that impressions create a powerful influence on people's minds. There was nothing intimidating with the lavishness of Al Muntaha. It was there for its guests to enjoy. Moreover, it was just another restaurant experience... where I had to dig into my pocket just a little bit deeper.
Please check out our previous post why booking a room with Agoda at the M Hotel Downtown by Millennium in Dubai's Business Bay was nothing short of a nightmare.
|Irish Grass-Fed Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Strudel|
|Charred Yellowtail Mackerel|
|Aboush Corn Jelly|
|Morello Cherry Marshmallow with Coulis and Coconut Granita.|
|BAA's restaurants mostly follow a dress code. For guys, its a collared, long sleeved shirt, with trousers and leather shoes. Sport shoes and walking shorts will be turned away.|