Restaurant review: Tap into an imaginative and varied menu at The Tap House in Dubai

There was plenty of variety when it came to the mains – from nasi goreng to steak-and-kidney pie.

Grilled salmon at The Tap House. Courtesy The Tap House
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If you visit a city such as London now, the nightlife is often unrecognisable from just five years ago, even in the most mainstream districts. Craft drinks have taken over – and that vibe is slowly permeating the UAE, too, at least in Dubai.

So it is inside The Tap House, the beverage-based highlight of self-proclaimed “beachfront dining destination” Club Vista Mare on The Palm. Weather permitting, the view is far nicer on its terrace, overlooking the water on the eastern side of The Palm’s “trunk” – but that’s not to say the interior is uninviting, flush as it is with plenty of exposed brick and industrial-style ceilings that transport you to Williamsburg or Shoreditch.

The venue’s name hints at its prime attraction but the food menu, based around European dishes and American comfort food, is imaginative enough to be worth more than simply a cursory glance.

It was already offering a revamped menu during my recent lunchtime visit, despite only opening in October. You could read this in one of two ways: a less-than-satisfactory start or a desire to keep things fresh.

We opted for starters from the “bar bites” section of the menu. At Dh40, the Parmesan and truffle chips with green pepper mayo were nothing if not overpriced, but at least there was some invention at work. A lot more artisan effort seemed to go into the plate of dinky turkey ham and cheese tartlets, which cost Dh10 more.

There was plenty of variety when it came to the mains, from nasi goreng to steak-and-kidney pie, but I found it hard to look past the most imposing burger on the menu.

The thinking behind the naming of the Heisenburger wasn't explained on the menu, but I presume it is a reference to the Breaking Bad character Walter White's criminal alter ego, Heisenberg. The burger filling, crispy fried chicken, is a not-all-that-subtle nod to the fast-food franchise that becomes central to the plot of the TV drama.

Either way, it is the size of about three Big Macs, embellished with truffle Monterey Jack and piled high with onion rings, and comes with a side of fries and salad. For Dh95, you’re at least getting a meal that will keep you full until the following day.

My dining partner tried the grilled salmon (Dh110), which scored high thanks to the accompanying sweet-potato mash, samphire and, in a case of it-shouldn’t-work-but-it-did, chicken chorizo sauce.

Dessert is where The Tap House’s spirit really shines. We sampled two inspired takes on popular puddings: the self-explanatory banoffee jar (Dh45) – yep, the components of a banoffee pie in, you guessed it, a jar – and, better still, the cheeton mess (Dh55). The latter was a raspberry cheesecake-stuffed meringue that was smashing in every sense of the word – you had to break apart the outer shell of this modernised version of Eton mess in a, well, messy but satisfying manner to access the filling.

Posh casual dining might be something of an oxymoron but it is something The Tap House pulls off admirably. Even if you go for the drinks, you would be wise to hang around for the food.

• Our meal for two at The Tap House, Club Vista Mare, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, cost Dh413. For more information, call 04 514 3778. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and conducted incognito