British chef Sean Connolly had the distinction of being at the helm of the first restaurant to open in Dubai Opera. His eponymous eatery earned rave reviews for its airy, contemporary layout, fresh, unfussy food, and buzzing vibe. It even hosted a 1970s disco party on New Year's Eve, complete with rollerblades. Unfortunately, less than 16 months later, the restaurant is slated to close its doors on January 15.
"It's with great sadness that I leave my baby behind, but I do intend to keep coming back to Dubai," the chef told Esquire Middle East earlier this week.
Already, searching for "Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera" on Google mysteriously leads to a hitherto non-existent place called "The Loft at Opera".
This is described using exactly the same wording as the Connolly restaurant: "a contemporary brasserie, with an uncomplicated and produce-driven menu serving seafood and steak..."
Unlike the original text, however, the new description takes out any reference to "British-born chef, Sean Connolly", who they explained "has over 25 years’ experience in the kitchen and has become a household name for both his restaurants and his entertaining TV series’, which are broadcast in 35 countries worldwide".
What's not clear, however, is if The Loft at Opera will continue to operate post January 15, and whether it will serve similar dishes to Sean Connolly's restaurant. The Loft's website is "currently undergoing scheduled maintenance".
A spokesperson from Emaar Hospitality Group said: “We can confirm that the brand Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera will be replaced in due course. The venue will operate an exciting new dining concept that promises an experience elevating the iconic location. Stay tuned as the new owner and operator announces more details of their plans."
The new restaurants, food trends and culinary controversies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Exploring Dibba Bay, the UAE's very own oyster farm, with Sean Connolly
Waitrose Food editor who quit over 'killing vegans' email joins London's Telegraph