Celebrity chef Jason Atherton returns once more with feeling.
Dinner and a show is a popular concept in Dubai. More often than not, one aspect does not cut it and you end up with a bum note meal or half-cooked performance. However, when we visit British chef Jason Atherton’s Jazz By City, it hits all the right notes.
The chef has transformed Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai’s food and beverage scene. He is behind the modern European restaurant, City Social; Japanese-inspired bar, Seven Tales; soon-to-open 17-course experience, Row on 45; and the recently opened, Jazz By City. The concepts are accessible by their own entrance and span three wow-worthy levels.
Each venue feels distinct, yet work as a whole. While you can visit each space separately, you can move between them if you want an after-party or after-after-party. So, City Social might be where you start, Jazz By City is where you pause, and Seven Tales is where you finish.
Jason Atherton explained: “We want it to be a counter restaurant to all those restaurants that throw you off the table. You go to so many restaurants and staff start hovering with their iPad, basically saying, ‘get the hell out’. We just don’t want to do that. So, you can keep your table or move with ease from one space to another.”
Jazz By City aims to transport you to a bygone era of New York speakeasies. The secret space is hidden behind a heavy wooden soundproof door. The intimate restaurant includes a bar with stools, white tablecloths and a view over Bluewaters Island, which twinkles away at night. Plus, in the corner is a white piano and pictures of jazz stars.
Jazz By City is an elevated New York-style grill restaurant. The menu spans starters, salads, sides, grilled fish as well as meat, and desserts. Despite meat being the star of the show, there is also a dedicated vegetarian menu.
Our starters include the Heritage Tomato and Wild Mushroom Ragout. The Carpaccio of Aged Beef is thinly sliced and topped with a generous helping of parmesan, and the Tempura Stuffed Courgette combines soft goat’s cheese with sweet honey.
The Mushroom Risotto is well seasoned, and the Rigatoni Pasta with tomatoes and chilli has a kick. The Wagyu Rump Cap is crispy on the outside and oh-so soft on the inside. The glaze of fat on top might put some people off, but it adds to the overall juiciness.
The accompanying acts – in this case, side dishes – are often in the shadows, but shine in the spotlight. The chips are triple-cooked, the salad is well-seasoned and the sauces include Bearnaise and peppercorn. Plus, the mashed potato is so good, we ordered it twice.
The dessert trolly is the stuff that sweet dreams are made of. We are given a slice of the Death by Chocolate Cake, Crème Brulé with Blackberry Sorbet and Doughnuts with Apple. If you want a talking point, the dessert box game makes for a fun final act. Behind each door is a scoop of ice cream, and it’s your job to guess the unexpected flavour.
The cocktail list is a nod to its location. The Palm includes Jose Cuervo Blanco, cucumber and shiso cordial, and The Marina includes Tanqueray, green bell pepper and jalapeno. Plus, there is an extensive wine list and non-alcoholic cocktails.
The music starts after 10pm and remains at a level where we can still converse. The female singer offers a jazzy take on pop songs, from Bruno Mars’ Finesse to Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On. Plus, she weaves through the tables, so that everyone can get a glimpse.
The service is warm and welcoming. The staff are knowledgeable about the menu, but slow between courses. Despite this, the overall experience makes for a memorable meal.
Jason has stolen the show (again). He has impressed the Middle East with Maraya Social in AlUla and Marina Social in Jeddah Yacht Club. Now, he has taken the tried –and often tired – concept of dinner and a show and given it old-school razzamatazz, which never goes out of style. Readers, you’ll want an encore.
GO: Visit https://www.citysocialdubai.com/private-dining for more information.