The Showhouse Dubai dinner-and-show review: A Wonderland, with or without Alice

The menu, meanwhile, is infused with enough cream to put a Cheshire cat grin on my face

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The Queen of Hearts – or at least her famous red pout. A rabbit-human hybrid prancing about in a waistcoat. Tiny vials of blue curacao labelled “Drink me”. Welcome to The Showhouse.

Dubai’s latest dinner-and-show restaurant pays ode to Alice in Wonderland. Accessible via a nondescript car park located in the basement of InterContinental Marina (where Japanese restaurant Koyo used to be), its debut act is titled Down the Rabbit Hole.

The National goes along for the ride.

The dinner

Before delving into details about the lavish costumes and impressive acrobatics involved in this production, the three-course meal served alongside deserves a special shout-out.

Curated by Rob Rathbone, the group culinary director of Solutions Leisure Group, the French-Mediterranean menu is, in a word, delectable. Many of the dishes are infused with more cream than even the Cheshire Cat would know what to do with. Not me, though – I live for the stuff.

My party of four is able to try nearly every item on the menu, and not one is disappointing. Among the choice of appetisers, the velvety burrata tastes like it has been freshly pulled, while the delicately steamed prawns come drenched in tarragon-infused olive oil (an acquired taste, but oh-so-good).

Even the foie gras ballotine, which is more firm than the usual paté consistency, goes down a charm, served alongside buttery brioche and a piquant onion-pepper chutney. Other options include frisee salad with a duck’s egg and classic beef tartare.

Mains are equally decadent. The vegetarian in our party has no choice but to get the mushroom risotto, but (given our penchant to share) we each enjoy hearty mouthfuls of the truffle and Parmesan-infused rice, liberally dusted with nutty cep powder.

A word to the wise: go easy on the baguette basket as the three meaty mains – filet steak, cornfed chicken and wild sea bass – are so filling, you’re unlikely to do much more than roll into bed after this meal.

The steak, in particular, is served with juicy potato dauphinoise slivers that could rival any unputdownable packet of crisps. More cream comes by way of the beurre-blanc sauce that accompanies the sea bass, which is melt-in-the-mouth flaky.

The nutty textures of cep and hazelnut are the prominent flavour profiles in the duck confit (accompanied by truffle gnocchi) and the chicken (on a bed of Jerusalem artichoke puree).

Given all the delicious excessiveness, dessert is a struggle to get through. Of the three bites I manage, the crunchy creme brulee and light-as-air vanilla cheesecake are favourites, while the tarte Tatin is a touch too sweet for my taste buds.

The show

A top hat glitters under the glow of a spotlight, sequins winking as diners take their seats around the central stage. As the clock chimes 9pm, out comes “Alice”, belting out Edge of Midnight, in a powerful voice that does justice to the rocking Miley Cyrus-Stevie Nicks number.

What follows – music-wise – is a mix of classic timeless pop, plus tunes from Broadway and West End musicals. Think everything from Land of 1000 Dances by Tina Turner, Padam Padam by Kylie Minogue and It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls, to Little Bird by Annie Lennox, Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly and It’s All About That Walk by Prince.

These are all personified by a talented troupe of dancers (ballroom, tap, pole, contemporary, et al), plus gymnasts, aerial artists and contortionists. Graceful ballerinas with arms outstretched one minute, twisted as pretzels the next, the performers are par excellence, perfectly in synch with the music and one another.

The bit with a dancer ducking in and out of a giant stiletto that doubles as a ladder and a slide is particularly noteworthy.

My one grouse? That the rich Alice x Looking Glass x Rabbit Hole theme was not adhered to throughout the show. Confusing (although no less fun) throwbacks to Wizard of Oz and other obscure references had me pedantically pondering whether they were any Lewis Carroll cues I might not “be getting”. But this is still a whimsical Wonderland, with or without Alice.

It’s also worth noting that the proceedings at The Showhouse play out in a continual loop, rather than the usual format of short bursts and separate acts. This is a deliberate decision, says head of entertainment and show producer Claire Wheatley, to help “diners stay transfixed in the immersive world we’ve created rather than cut the narrative with random DJ tunes”.

Indeed, as Alice comes out for her final solo – Left Outside Alone by Anastasia – you can’t help but hope she finds her way back home.

The Showhouse is open from 7pm to midnight on Wednesday and Thursday; 7pm to 3am on Friday; and 1pm to 5pm and 6pm to 3am on Saturday. Dinner is served from 8pm and the show starts at 9pm. Prices range from Dh395 (silver) to Dh545 (VIP), inclusive of a three-course meal and limited drinks. For reservations, visit

Updated: May 10, 2024, 11:50 AM