[Big Bite] Restaurant Review: Rhodes W1
I don’t exactly think of gastronomic excellence when I remember my time spent in London, the best meals I had in the eccentric metropolis include Jamaican street food at Borough Market and Indian curries on Brick Lane. My attempts to enjoy British fare were usually reduced to a carpeted pub, a heaping mound of soggy fish and chips and a pint of something to help me forget about the meal that preceded it. Ironically a single visit to a Chef Gary Rhodes restaurant here in Dubai changed that.
Michelin Star Chef Gary Rhodes has earned his celebrity status over the years boasting a library of cookbooks, several restaurants and a roster of A-list clientele of which he’s been a personal chef, including Princess Diana and his beloved Manchester United Football club. The UAE welcomed Rhodes several years ago when he took up permanent residence at Rhodes W1 and Rhodes Twenty10. Despite opening and closing another restaurant in Abu Dhabi last year, Rhodes has certainly maintained his momentum.
Rhodes W1, formerly Rhodes Mezzanine, sits modestly in the Grosvenor House overlooking the marina. Faux plants adorn the walls of the refurbished space which is set against a canvas of yellow, lime green and white furniture, a stark contrast to most dimly lit fine dining rooms. The refreshing decor strikes just the right balance between English countryside and a chic date night destination. The menu is littered with familiar ingredients all subject to Rhodes quintessential British twist. My eyes grazed over his famous Shepard’s Pie, Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait Brulee and the Roast Rack of Welsh Lamb before settling on another flavor profile for the evening.
The Slow Roasted Pork Belly arrived first, the pork was served just thin enough, a la carpaccio, atop a bed of apple, celery, marinated anchovy and radish salad garnished with crispy ham. The ingredients were smart and harmonious, although I could have done without the anchovies, but the dish was quickly forgotten once the Braised Oxtail Risotto arrived. Although not a visual masterpiece, the bowl of risotto resembling a chunky brown porridge left me in awe of Mr. Rhodes, qualifying as one of my top ten dishes I’ve ever had in Dubai. The oxtail had all but completely melted into the risotto leaving behind a thick balsamic-type reduction drizzled in a sour salsa making for a savory taste bud triumph.
I opted for the Roast Cod next which arrived in a cast iron skillet hugging the flaky fish in a creamy broth of peas, potatoes, buttered cabbage and cider steamed clams. Not a particular favorite but a hearty dish, what followed however sealed my confidence in Rhodes W1. The Char-Grilled ‘1855‘ Beef Fillet, a cut of beef so remarkably tender and robust, a mere pierce of the knife and the steak willingly parted ways with its other half revealing its pink interior. The exquisite cut of meat is sourced from English breed influenced cattle raised in the northern plains and was paired with an equally exquisite truffle and spring onion macaroni immersed in a copper pot rounding out the indulgent evening and restoring my faith in British fare for good.
The dessert menu revealed British quintessence at its best with a myriad of curds, custards and tarts. The Lemon Curd and Clotted Cream Mouse, Eccles Cake and Summer Pudding all caught my eye but the Steamed Jam Roly-Poly came highly recommended by the Chef de Cuisine. Reminiscent of a warm cinnamon roll, swamping spicy cinnamon for sweet jam, the Roly-Poly was drizzled in warm custard and certainly left me nostalgic, a sentiment Chef Rhodes clearly had in mind when designing the menu.
Rhodes facelift to British classics is one I welcome with open arms and is sure to become a date night favorite. The Masterchef ventures into the theater for his upcoming collaboration which merges my love of food with my love of film offering cinema goers a dining experience of Michelin star caliber at the cinema with ‘VOX ThEATre by Rhodes’ set to open this September.
Disclaimer: I was a guest at Rhodes W1, but as always all opinions expressed here are solely my own.