Thursday, 6 October 2016

Little Black Book Dubai

I often find myself in Dubai for work, and Elle has been a couple of times too, most recently to meet me at the end of my project. Over the years, I have built up a little black book of hidden and not so hidden gems, conveniently mapped for you here

Map Preview - You Can Zoom in on My Maps

Here is a little bit about each point on the map...

To Eat and Drink (Blue Pins)

Pai Thai - my favourite Thai in the middle of Madinat Jumeriah, a place that can only be described as Disney's Aladdin meets Venice... The food and service here are incredibly good. Have the purple chicken dumplings, the prawn papaya salad and any one of the curries.

The Armani Deli - not exactly a hidden gem but a great place for a luxe-y dinner right in the centre. This restaurant is in the Berg Khalifa and serves modern Italian food with fantastic views of the fountain. It's a very Dubai experience and a fun place to hang out. Get a window seat and order anything with burrata or black truffle.

Marina Social - Jason Atherton is one of my favourite chefs and he has an incredibly designed restaurant in the Intercontinental hotel. Get there early for a fantastic value early bird tasting menu

Scallop carpaccio

Folly by Nick and Scott  - this should be opening in December in the Madinat so we haven't technically been yet but Elle and I were lucky enough to sample an unforgettable tasting menu from the chefs at a pop up during our stay at Zighy Bay. We were so impressed by the food - beautifully tender pigeon in the middle of the Omani mountains

Highlights from the tasting menu

Tom and Serg - in the industrial district, this is the perfect place for lunch if you are visiting Alserkal Avenue (which you should!) - see below... Order the siracha chicken bao, the coffee and the whole grains salad

Em Sherif - I haven't yet had the chance to visit but I have been recommended this place on very good authority. They specialise in authentic Lebanese food

Kaftan - good for traditional Turkish dishes eaten outside. Don't go when it's too hot!

Al Amoor - for no-frills, cheap and authentic Egyptian street food, recommended by a client's boyfriend who is a chef at Noma

Little Black Door - for interesting cocktails, recommended by Folly's sommelier (and she had great taste in wine!)

To See, Do, Buy (Purple Pins)

Alserkal Avenue - this collection of dusty warehouses is full of hidden gems to discover. Alongside commercial art galleries,  it also houses museums, studios, workshops and a few interesting shops. My favourites are Leiler Heller Museum for interesting and free exhibitions, A4 Space for somewhere fun to work and hang out, Cartel for unusual (although often European) designers and Mirzam to see chocolate being made and to buy some unusual bars. Also look out for any events across the avenue such as their Music on the Avenue and Urban Market

Bedouin Studios at Galleries Lafayette - I met this designer at a bar and we got talking about her outfit straight away. She is London-born but based in Dubai and pretty damn talented 

Cara Jewellers - this is a great place to get anything copied in gold and diamonds. They offer fantastic value and can turn pieces around in matter of days. I have had some of my mum's antique pieces copied, and shown pictures of pieces I liked to have them cast. Do barter, give very precise instructions, and give yourself time to check the design. 

Spice Souk - historic spice market. Buy Iranian saffron and sumac

Bastakiya - the old district, full of interesting architecture and some quirky galleries

Beauty Connection - great for cheap beauty treatments 

Jet Set Salon - great for a quick blowdry

Where to Stay (Green Pins)

Vida - If you are going with work, my favourite hotel is Vida. It has a great location an feels somewhat less corporate than some of the others. Rooms vary from £100-£200 per night. 

Otherwise there are plenty of AirBnbs to choose from.