Restaurant review: Jean-Georges Dubai serves flawless French flavours

Fabulous food and impeccable service make this restaurant well worth splashing out on.

The elegant dining room  at Jean-Georges Dubai in the  Four Seasons Dubai. Courtesy Jean-Georges Dubai
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We arrived slightly early for our reservation at Jean-Georges Dubai, so we had a drink at the adjacent bar until the 7pm opening.

I was glad we did, because from that perch, which is situated between the fine-dining restaurant and its casual counterpart JG Kitchen, we had the perfect vantage point to observe a lengthy meeting to brief floor staff about the evening ahead.

What ensued was an impressive 20 minutes of intense discussion. Clearly the exhaustive session was worth it, because I’ve never had such spectacular service anywhere, let alone in the UAE.

Unobtrusive, efficient, friendly, attentive, timely and, best of all, completely informed, the floor staff at the Four Seasons Resort’s fine-dining room are a team of which renowned French Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten – who operates his three Michelin-starred restaurant Jean-Georges in New York City – can be completely proud.

We asked loads of questions throughout our lengthy meal and none went unanswered – which is a rarity in the UAE. It can rarely be said of any restaurant that the service was flawless – but here it was.

If I’ve gone on about this a little long and you are wondering when I will get to the food, it’s because all the attention we received couldn’t help but slightly outshine the solid culinary offerings from executive chef Colin Clague.

Having said that, the exquisite level of expertise and detail offered on the service side was absolutely reflected in the food. Our meal started with charming amuse bouche: a charred carrot with coriander and yogurt that resembled a tiny log; a refreshing and frothy cucumber-mint-­ginger-chilli chilled soup; and crunchy black truffle-paste fritter paired with Comté cheese.

To sample as wide a variety as possible, we chose the five-course tasting menu, which costs Dh540 a person. Despite knowing we had several dishes ahead of us, we still couldn’t help but have a slice of fresh-baked Swedish rye and ciabatta when the bread plate was offered, and were pleased with the accompanying butter cones, one containing seaweed, the other chilli. Impressively, the butter – which is flown in from Brittany, France – is the only item not made on-site.

For starters, we chose the parsnip soup, which offered a silky mix of flavours, including coconut, mint and lime.

We also had the yellowfin tuna ribbons, served with spicy radish and ginger marinade, which was recommended by our server. Although the dish was beautifully presented – resembling a flower – I’m not sure I understood it. I found the ribbons unwieldy and was overwhelmed by their too-large bed of mashed avocado – although the nip each radish slice provided to the mix was a welcome respite.

For our next course I ordered sautéed foie gras, which sat beside a salty, smoky Yuzu foam, under crunchy dehydrated apple chips atop a smooth green apple purée. A bit of a fun surprise was the corn ravioli, which tasted like spring on a plate. The dish was freshness personified with raw cherry tomatoes, a simple basil cream sauce and crisp, fresh kernels of corn.

As can happen with ­multi-course dining, by the time the mains rolled around, we were suffering a little from flavour fatigue – and were definitely regretting the bread, if not the butter.

My perfectly prepared caramelised beef tenderloin was paired with a cylinder of daikon, which may be delicious but is always a bit confusing, and a piece of “crackling kale”, secured upright in a slight pile of mustard essence. While it was a lovely decoration, resembling underwater coral, upon chewing it turned into a mere dusty mouthful. The Muscovy duck breast was tender and succulent, elevated by its sweet topping of cracked Jordan almonds. The three accompanying tiny turnips looked fun and futuristic, but were watery and tasteless.

We went full chocoholic for dessert and were not disappointed, although we did struggle to do them justice. The warm ­chocolate cake – with an impeccable fondant – was paired with vanilla ice cream, while the two scoops of chocolate mousse were paired with two scoops of luscious, creamy mint ice cream, sandwiched by impossibly thin chocolate wafers.

The atmosphere is lovely at Jean-Georges and was only occasionally marred when a boisterous party of revellers from the neighbouring JG’s Kitchen gathered at the bar in between for cigarette breaks.

There were only five tables occupied of the 12 available, with the action in the open kitchen reduced to just the gentlest clanking of kitchen wares over the soothing lounge music and sound of merged conversations.

The lighting was perfect over our generous half-booth, which offered birdseye view of a curious gathering of six expatriates settled in the middle.

We couldn’t help but marvel at the military precision with which their meals were served – six servers delivering each of their courses at precisely the same time, just as two had served ours.

Our five-course meal for two at Jean-Georges Dubai in the Four Seasons Resort on Jumeirah Beach Road cost Dh1,287. For more information, call 04 343 6118. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito