Bluewaters Island is not just Dubai’s latest waterfront destination, it is also the quirkiest and the most futuristic. No, I do not say that because of the giant Ferris wheel that is based on this island. I know that ‘Ain Dubai’ is a bit of a marvel due its sheer size but it is actually the huge UFO like steel installations that give the Island this futuristic feel.
Of the four restaurants that have so far opened up on the island, one stands out because of it’s fun concept and bold branding. It would be safe to say that ‘The Selfish Bull’ is the quintessential Bluewaters Island restaurant. Yes, it is fun to feast on fresh seafood but it is the ability to do the unthinkable which makes dining at The Selfish Bull such an absolute delight.
Imagine ordering half a lobster because that is what you do when you are in the middle of the sea but also receiving a rack of ribs with your order. Sounds preposterous right? Apparently, it is not. Not only can your lobster come with a side of spare ribs but you can also order it with some juicy lamb chops. If that doesn’t work, there is always the option of a T bone with jumbo shrimps or maybe even a tenderloin steak with some scallops. You could also choose a live mud crab from the display tanks and have it cooked with a zesty black pepper sauce. Everything is possible at the Selfish Bull.
If you want to take it easy, there is the lobster bisque which is a creamy lobster soup cooked with celery, carrots and chives or the Tom Yum, which is a classic Thai spicy soup with shrimps, squid, mushrooms and lemon grass. My favorite was the French Onion Soup which was served in a bread bowl, topped with croutons and cheese.
One of the things that new restaurants struggle with is consistency in service. It takes a while for the service staff to get comfortable in their new roles. The service at the Selfish Bull was impeccable. From seating to order placement and communication to billing; everything was handled with perfection. There was always someone at hand if we needed assistance but the staff were never intrusive. They left us to finish our meal at a leisurely pace, as we soaked in the beautiful view from the terrace. All we had to do to get their attention was to glance in their direction and nod. It was such a pleasure to dine there and congratulations to the restaurant on covering all bases.
I don’t really do Michelin stars any more. It was a phase and it was good while it lasted but it is all over now. No celebrity chefs either, thank you very much. I am happiest when dining out on the streets or comparing one shawarma to the other (though I do sneak in a cheeky brunch whenever I can!) So, when asked to review Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria, I wasn’t really sure why!
As we walked into the restaurant, I began to understand why they may have asked me to review it. This was a far cry from the fancy, Michelin starred, award winning, celebrity chef restaurant I was expecting. It had a classy roadside diner feel; the kind of place that would take your jacket, ask you how you were doing and seat you at your preferred table while still serving breakfast, chicken wings and pizza. This was a wonderful world of contrasts and I was already very excited.
The free range Chicken Wings were supposed to be sticky after being tossed in what was called a spicy freak sauce so I asked if I could have the sauce on the side and use it as a dip. I did not expect them to agree because that would essentially change the whole concept and they would have no control over the amount of sauce and doused on to the wings. To my surprise, they agreed. Such is the effect of a customer centric attitude that you are willing to take risks and bend the rules a little bit. It was a gamble that definitely paid off. One thought going through my mind as I dipped the little drumsticks into the spicy freak sauce was that the only way to explain how unbelievably addictive it was, is to bring my foodie friends back to this place.
I was intrigued, yet apprehensive of the Lemon Herbed Chicken. I don’t know why but for some reason I feared it may have been under cooked. I think it had something to do with a similar sounding dish which I had tried to eat a week prior to that day in Baku. To my relief, this chicken was neither under cooked and rubbery nor had it been cooked to oblivion and was succulent and tender with a lemon layer of skin on top. The first thing I did when I got back home was to google the recipe. No, I wasn’t trying to save myself a trip back to the restaurant. I was just curious on how a dish with such basic ingredients could taste so good.
It turns out, all you need to create the most awesome chicken dish were a few fresh basil leaves, a couple of rosemary sprigs, some garlic, your choice of veggies and a large lemon. It is what you do with these ingredients that magically transforms this into a signature Jamie Oliver dish. Don’t google it yet. Go and try the real thing first; just so you know what it is supposed to taste like.
Chicken Ala Diavola at Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria
Last but not least, the Chicken Ala Pizza because this was after all a pizzeria, right? I was pleased to be offered a choice between whole grain and sourdough. Jamie is the poster boy healthy eating in the UK so it had to be so. I opted for the whole grain option of course because it would help to ease my elevated guilt after consuming 300 grams of animal fat smothered onto a carbohydrate base. I did not expect it be as good as a normal pizza because let’s face it, who wants a whole wheat pizza, right? Me, that’s who. After this day, I am not sure if I want to go back to a normal pizza base. The whole wheat dough lent a unique, earthy to the pizza while carrying half the calories of a sourdough base. It complimented the and the mint and yoghurt sauce to create a wonderful fusion between East and West. I wouldn’t be surprised if they start copying this on the streets of Naples soon; or Lahore, depending on who gets a taste of it first.