Restaurant Review: El Sur
When I think of Spanish food I am reminded of the tiny restaurants serving tapas in iron skillets tucked away in the cobblestone alleys of the Gothic Quarter. I remember the colorful seaside bistros serving seafood Paella on the shores of Barcelona. Last week I swapped the narrow alleys and iron skillets for Dubai’s take on contemporary Spanish food at El Sur. An avid tapas lover, I was reluctant to try Spanish food in the Emirate but El Sur held up its end of the bargain with its flavors, not to mention its beautiful seaside location.
Just west of the cranes and cones that line the streets of Dubai Marina sits the beautiful Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, home to El Sur. It’s an inviting and intimate restaurant with a gorgeous terrace overlooking a sea of palm trees and the Arabian Gulf. We were greeted by a freestanding wire sculpture of a bull matador with an impressive bar illuminating the lounge in the background. The hardwood floors and colorful abstract artwork provided a cozy yet artsy and chic ambiance.
If there is one thing you should know about me when it comes to food is that I love to share, so much that my old roommate once gifted me an expandable fork which extends two feet. All meals were within my arms reach with this fork, sharing is caring after all, isn’t it? Let’s be honest, it was probably the best gift I’d ever received. It’s also probably a blessing in disguise that I lost this fork otherwise my friends and family would have to dine more than two feet away from me at all times! I was giddy over the thought of sharing tapas without having to worry about overstepping my boundaries.
The menu ranges from classic tapas such as Iberian Ham Croquetas and Patatas Bravas to new age dishes such as Hen Egg with Potatoes with Black Truffle and Foie Gras, Apple Foam and Pedro Ximenez pearls. We settled somewhere in the middle and opted for the Seabass Ceviche with Citrus and Guacamole along with the Avocado Cannelloni with Tuna, to start.
The Sea Bass Ceviche was amongst the best I’d ever tasted and the presentation was beautiful. The sea bass was served atop a mound of creamy avocado resembling nigiri sushi and it had a citrusy zest to it which brought all of the flavors together. This was the most special dish of the night; we tried to contain our cool facade as we rambled gibberish approvingly and exchanged a series of happy grunts (I believe this is what defines a foodgasm). Next up was the Avocado Cannelloni with Tuna, yes you heard correctly, cannelloni! Chunks of tuna were wrapped up in sheets of avocado resembling cannelloni adorned with gazpacho jelly. The consistency of the jelly seemed like an unusual garnish but combined with avocado and tuna it was an incredibly refreshing, flavorful and sophisticated dish.
For the larger plates we shared the Braised beef oxtail with Green Apple and Vanilla Scented Puree and the Free-range Orange Roasted Chicken with Corn. The braised beef was coated in a rich sauce which melted your mouth, the sweetness of the apple complimented the dish beautifully. The beef was a bit fatty making it even juicier, all in all I loved this main and can’t wait to try it again. The Orange chicken was mutually the least favorite of the night, although I appreciated the sticky orange glaze, the dish was on the dry side and the flavors left me underwhelmed.
The innovative menu comes as no surprise as the well-respected Head Chef Juan Carlos brings along with him experience from several Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain. With only a handful of Spanish restaurants in Dubai, the new age gastronomy of El Sur has certainly distinguished itself. While I long for late nights of tapas and sangria in Barcelona, my taste buds dance with joy at the thought of returning to El Sur very soon, in fact I’ve already made a reservation for my follow up visit this Friday!