Folly review: Dubai's Michelin-lauded restaurant has 16 new dishes on its menu

The culinary institution retains its playful and passionate approach to food

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“Folly by Nick & Scott.” So reads the signage — still — in front of the Souk Madinat Jumeirah restaurant, despite chef Scott Price moving on to new, Scottish pastures last year, while co-founder Nick Alvis continues to run the show.

It’s an endearing symbol of the duo’s friendship and professional regard for one another, as well as the restaurant’s founding philosophy of not taking itself too seriously. When it opened five years ago, folly was among the first crop of home-grown, fine-dining restaurants in the UAE, however its chef-patrons have always put the satisfaction of diners above all.

“What’s important is producing great food and drinks, helping guests have a fantastic time and offering value for money,” Price told The National when the restaurant opened in 2017.

“It’s a little tongue in cheek,” Alvis said at the time. “Folly means ‘a lack of good sense; foolishness’. The name relates to us wanting guests to relax and enjoy themselves.”

This ethos has paid off. When the Michelin Guide Dubai finally came calling, folly was acclaimed as a “value-for-money” Bib Gourmand restaurant.

The category is “not quite a star, but most definitely not a consolation prize”, according to the guide. It recognises “just-as-esteemed” and friendly establishments that serve good food at reasonable prices.

Costs at folly have always been refreshingly straightforward. Its initial menu comprised eight dishes costing Dh45 each, eight more for Dh70 and another eight priced at Dh110. The idea being guests can pick a couple from the lower-priced groups and one from the most ­expensive — palate and pocket permitting.

Currently, the restaurant allows guests to choose one starter, one main and a dessert for a competitive Dh275.

While you might be tempted to order time-tested favourites such as the crispy hen’s egg, lamb saddle or rhubarb and custard, there are 16 new decadent dishes to try, which were launched last month.

The menu

Pressed quail with mushroom and tarragon. Photo: folly

The new dishes comprise six appetisers, seven mains and three desserts. My dining partner and I start with duck liver and pressed quail — the former because I adore paté in all forms and the latter because the langoustine dumplings with yam and curry leaf were finished for the day.

The rich and creamy liver hits the right spot (enjoy it spread on top of the complimentary breads), and complements the flaky yet bold quail meat. This is altogether more hearty than the duck thanks to a runny quail egg served on the side.

For mains, my dining partner orders the cod, while I opt for the server-recommended veal cheek, which is tender, rich and filling.

Despite this, I end up eating more than half the cod as, unfortunately for my companion for the evening, the burnt buttery goodness proves too much of a temptation. Even the cauliflower floret it’s laid on top of is both crunchy and creamy.

The only issue with the dishes, or perhaps our selection of dishes, is they are a touch too tart. From the liver's overtly fruity accompaniments (black radish and vinegary-infused chives) and the piquant mushrooms embedded in the pressed quail, to the bed of sesame cabbage the juicy veal cheek was laid on, each — save for the cod — had more zing than we expected.

Standout dish

The iced creme brulee with blood orange is a decadent new dessert.

The iced creme brulee is a game changer. For one, it’s frozen solid and is super refreshing; it even manages to banish the dread of walking back to my car in 50°C heat.

And, this is no plain-flavoured pastry, either. Rather, once the custard has set, chefs scoop out the centre and fill it with a robust blood orange syrup, then allow the two to freeze together.

The taste of orange blossoms beautifully into the custard — so much so that even the caramelised sugar discs placed above and below the brulee become infused with a scrumptious citrusy scent. The flavour profile is so acute, there really is no need for the (sigh, tart) orange sorbet accompanying the main event.

Open Monday-Thursday 5pm-midnight, Friday 4pm-midnight, Saturday-Sunday 1pm-midnight; Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai; 04 430 8535; www.folly.ae

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

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