My nephew was born in the same year that Teatro first opened its doors to public. How could I ever forget that year? It was 2001 and I had freshly graduated. A young, broke meteorologist with my heart on my sleeve. Dubai was changing and so was I.
Shaikh Zayed road was the way into the future. It was a symbol of the new Dubai that was rising out of the desert. Nobody would be able to set foot on JBR for another 6 years. There was no JLT, no Business Bay and certainly no Burj Khalifa. When you said Downtown Dubai, people thought of the Fish Roundabout or Souq Naif in Deira. If you wanted to make a great impression whether on a date or a business meeting, you called ahead to book a table with a view at Teatro.
My nephew is a bit of a legend in his own right. He is the only 18-year-old who does not want to drive or own a car because it is not good for the planet. He is also the only kid I know who got into Stanford on a scholarship. We have all come a long way since then. It is amazing to witness how people evolve over time. It is also amazing to see how a business can evolve but still retain its core essence. Teatro has tweaked its menu many times over the years but remained consistent in the delivery of quality and service excellence that its customers have grown used to.
It was my absolute pleasure to get an opportunity to return to Teatro after so many years. As I walked in to the restaurant, I felt a rush of nostalgia and perhaps even a couple of déjà vu moments as the hostess walked us to our table. Expansive glass windows with views of Shaikh Zayed Road, old pictures of Hollywood stars, dark wooden tables, opulent plush seating and dimmed mood lighting – it was all still there. Teatro has managed to stand its ground when all around have given into the minimalist movement. You can hardly find any more chandeliers or a warm intimate ambience in Dubai restaurants anymore.
Teatro is a licensed multi-cuisine restaurant and truly has something to offer for everyone. It is well known for its sushi selection and for its Italian dishes. I have many favorites but I do not want to steer anyone towards a particular kind of cuisine. So, I am going to limit my recommendation to one starter and one main course; which are the Wasabi Tempura and the Lamb Shank.
The first is a platter of six, tempura battered jumbo shrimps which have a hint of wasabi seasoning. The batter gives a slightly sweet crunchy coating and the wasabi provides the soft prawns with a subtle fiery kick.
I love a good lamb shank and have never shied away from the opportunity to order one; whenever possible. I have tasted a traditional lamb shank stew. I have had a braised lamb shank Ragu and a lamb shank with herbed mashed potatoes but Teatro is probably the only place in Dubai where you can taste a Kashmiri lamb shank. Falling of the bone, tender meat which is slowly braised with a blend of ginger, garlic, onion, fresh tomato and aromatic Kashmiri spices. This has got to be the best way to combine Eastern Cuisine with Western cooking methods and it is reason enough for me to go back to Teatro soon.
Shakespeare and Co. is a stunning example of 16th century opulence. If I could give points for ambience and decor, this place would be up there in a league of its own. The deep red upholstery on top of plush cushion seating and the Elizabeth-esque chandeliers could easily have been from a scene of Juliet’s bedroom.
Shakespeare and Co. is a stunning example of 16th century opulence. If I could give points for ambience and decor, this place would be up there in a league of its own. The deep red upholstery on top of plush cushion seating and the Elizabeth-esque chandeliers could easily have been from a scene of Juliet’s bedroom. Sadly though, Shakespeare would never have been able to own a place like this. Between you and me, I seriously doubt he could ever afford to eat there either.
Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and Othello are all set in Italy. Just like Italian literature, culture and politics influenced the plots and atmosphere of all these plays, Italian cuisine seemed to be the predominant force in the Shakespeare and Co. menu.
In keeping up with the spirit of things, we decided to kick off our modern day Shakespeare experience with some Minestrone soup. I hate to talk of one restaurant when reviewing another but somehow I kept thinking of the Minestrone Soup they serve at Olive Garden (which I must review soon). The soup they served here was a bit less rich and perhaps a little less flavourful but the warm rolls and herbed butter compensated for that. I should point out though that a serving of Minestrone soup here cost 40 AED while it is served free by the bucket load in Olive Garden but enough of that.
We were done with Shakespeare’s Italian escapade and decided to order something closer to home (his home not ours). The most English thing on the menu was the fish and chips so we went ahead and ordered one of those. In keeping up with the seafood theme we also ordered a salmon fillet (not very easy to go wrong with one of those).
Both the dishes came piping hot from the kitchen and like I said, I do not know of many restaurants which can go wrong with either of them. Notable mentions here are the chips (fries) which had a light crispy coating on them and the vegetable tartar which accompanied the salmon fillet. The salmon itself was pan seared, so the crust was dark and crispy (just the way I like it).
Another thing I must mention here is that the plating of the salmon filet was among the best I have seen and I have seen a lot of salmon filets 😉 . The vegetable tartar was assembled into a little tower on which rested a thinly cut slice of grilled eggplant. The salmon itself rested on an eggplant puree.
I had noticed lots of macaroons while entering the restaurant and had thought that taking a bite out of Shakespeare’s French connection would be vital to this experience. Unfortunately, we were quiet full by the time we were done with the main course (I blamed it on the rolls) and decided to come back just for macaroons and tea.