What do Dubai and Toronto have in common? Both are multi-cultural hubs, both have unbelievingly tall towers…and both pay homage to a lovely little European country we know as Belgium. Never fear if you’re craving exquisite beer (yep). You’ve got multiple locations to choose from when seeking Dubai’s popular destination Belgian Beer Café. To clarify, I’ll be visiting the Grand Millenium location tonight. Dubai’s summer temperatures are way too on point to eat outside (not something I’m entirely disappointed about considering the underwhelming ambience I recall from my December visit, which I won’t take into account in this review), so inside is the way to go.
The waitress asks us where we’d like to sit. Unfortunately we don’t have much of a choice, considering the smokers have greatly outnumbered us. The second floor means a smoky atmosphere from down below, anywhere near the bar (and the growing crowds) is useless to consider. We sit as far away as possible; the corner booth at the far end. We think we’re safe. We soon discover how naïve we were in this assumption as I soon find it difficult to breathe without feeling like my sinuses are under attack. I try my best to ignore it, which becomes increasingly easier as I get into my meal.
I come to the realization that I’m officially a snob in the beer café world, because this menu isn’t initially doing anything for me. The selection isn’t the greatest, but there’s hope for it yet. I inquire about the possibility of ordering a Trappist ale to my waitress. “Draught?” she replies. It seems hopeless. I clarify with “Trappist”, which prompts her to skip off towards the bar. My company disapprovingly shakes their head, wondering why I’m even trying. I’m determined, and relieved to find out that she actually understood me this time when she returns. She indicates that there are two Trappist ales available. I zero in on one of the choices: the classic Chimay Blue. Once it’s delivered to the table, I know I made the right decision. Another Trappist beer that exemplifies the finest qualities you look for in a beverage of this calibre.
I order the breaded veal with a complimentary side of garden salad and frites you would only find at a European influenced venue. By this point, the crowd is building up around me, various tables testing their beer adventurousity through ordering particularly dark draughts and bottles unrecognizable to mainstream beer goers. The veal is both flavourful and visually appealing. The frites meet the minimum criteria of being deemed delicious, yet the thickness in cut is a little too much for my liking. I don’t even get to try the salad as the rest of the meal is pretty filling on its own.
It gets time to pay, and the waitress is nowhere to be found. Something to be expected lately in my restaurant excursions. Luckily she hasn’t abandoned us, and we soon come to find that the value for food is actually pretty good. The Trappist ales may appear to fall on the expensive side, yet if you factor in how much you’ll be paying in the Western world, you’ll realize this is a pretty good bargain. Definitely a place I would come back to, whether it be this location, Festival City, or Madinat Jumeirah.
Let’s SCALE it:
Group of Friends: 2-8 – Believe me when I say that there are equal amounts of tables of 2, to tables of 8.
Fanciness: 6/10 – Nothing too extravagant, which is fitting for some of the restaurant patrons.
Ambience: 5/10 – It’s smoky. It’s loud. The music is far-fetched from any European themed restaurant I’ve been to. Something that could be improved.
Location: 4/10 – The hotel is lovely. The presentation of the restaurant within the hotel is great. Getting there? An entirely different story. After about four attempts to get to the right round-about that will lead us to the hotel, we made it. And felt less un-enthusiastic about going out for dinner in the process.
Food/Drink Selection: 7/10 – It’s pretty solid. Some of the meal selections are a little too heavy for me, but I applaud them for keeping it strictly Belgian.
Food/Drink Quality: 9/10 – The high quality is unarguable.
Service: 6/10 – Up and down…consistency in presence and knowledge is highly arguable.
Price: 7/10 – Reasonable.
First Impressions: 6/10 – So basically the back of the room is our only option…
Last Impressions: 7/10 – My return is riding on the beer and food quality…so hopefully that stays consistent.
Population: Late 20’s-Late 50’s
Summary: Belgian Beer Café is ON my radar!
Grand Millennium Dubai, TECOM, Dubai
Al Barsha’s own.
Appetizing in presentation.