It’s getting hot in Caesars Palace, and for good reason. Hell’s Kitchen Dubai, the latest regional venture by popular British food connoisseur Gordon Ramsay, opened its doors at the hotel a few weeks ago, making an evening out here one of the hottest tickets in town – as it should, given the status of the place that draws its inspiration from the global hit reality television show of the same name, starring Ramsay himself.
Only the second restaurant of its kind outside of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Hell’s Kitchen Dubai, while it may be missing one very key ingredient – Ramsay himself – his absence certainly doesn’t take away from the theatre of it all, you truly do feel like you’re on the set of the explosive Emmy award-winning show.
Located on the hotel’s lower level, the establishment can seat as many as 260 diners, inside and out. You can’t miss the entrance, with its sizeable pitchfork-centred H-K logo and slick modern interiors, and as you make your way in to the restaurant proper, it’s the statement red and blue show kitchen emblazoned with small pitchfork decals that draw the eye and prompt the smile on your face.
Given our pick of tables on the evening we dine – just a week after opening – we opt for one facing the open kitchen. As well as tasting the food, I’m most interested in the accompanying floor-show out in front.
I’m surprised by the number of guests who choose to sit outside, forfeiting the opportunity to watch the action as it happens, but I’m pleased with our position and find my gaze locked on the kitchen and service team for most of the sitting.
The "Yes chefs" resonating from the kitchen with regularity generate that Hell's Kitchen reality show vibe we know so well, but don't expect the potty-mouthed Ramsay antics here – it's a toned-down version of colour you see on the small screen, and it has to be, after all, this is the UAE.
Daniel Thomas, the restaurant’s general manager, says the idea is to give diners the Hell’s Kitchen experience without the expletives. He explains the concept to me further, pointing out that the burly chef taking centre stage is Craig Best, formerly head chef at Jason Atherton’s Marina Social. He’s the man in charge, and from what I can see, he’s got the service well under control. His orders are being thrown to the team, depending on which station they’re at and what the order is, and then like clockwork, dishes are being plated up and delivered promptly to the wait staff who get them to the tables in good time. No one appears to be waiting for meals and there are no obvious mix-ups that I can see.
It’s a Friday night and the restaurant is buzzing, the floor staff flitting around like bees around a honey pot. I’d like to put a pedometer on them sometime, as there is no doubt they clock up their daily steps quota every shift.
As you might expect the menu is packed with British dishes with signature offerings including the Hell’s Kitchen burger and pan-seared scallops, sticky toffee pudding and Ramsay’s famous beef Wellington.
I opt for the scallops to start, which are delivered to me perfectly cooked with a delicious English pea puree. At a cost of Dh125 it’s worth every dirham. For the main I go with a dish that’s recommended by our server, the braised short rib with potato puree, pulled beef and carrot crisp (Dh165). It’s a good-sized meal and the meat melts in my mouth, which is how it should be.
My dining partner has no complaints when it comes to her half dozen oysters with HK cocktail sauce (Dh110) and 220 gram filet mignon served with roasted tomatoes on the vine and bearnaise sauce (Dh190). And given we’re one of the first to try the food, we don’t miss out on testing out dessert (Dh60 each) and can’t go past the signature sticky toffee pudding, which is divine.
As we make our way out at the end of the meal, it’s certain we’ll be back - this sure is one hell of an addition to the region’s dining scene, a must try if you’re a Ramsay food fan.
Hell’s Kitchen is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. For more go to www.caesars.com/dubai