Having heard all about the A-lister hangout destination in Hollywood, Delphine – an uber cool celebrity-crammed restaurant that, amazingly, doesn’t seem pretentious and obscenely over the top, I was obviously super excited to hear it was coming to Dubai. Setting up shop in the H Hotel on the Sheikh Zayed Road, Delphine offers the city a new Downtown date-night destination. So once I’d escaped the chaos and havoc of my (oh-so-delightful) nephews and niece, a chilled-out dinner that still had a feeling of ooh-la-la was just what I needed.
I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by Delphine’s décor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the restaurant calls itself a ‘modern Californian bistro’ – so I was thinking surf boards, wooden decking, and some hipster band music playing in the background. But this was the total opposite. It’s art-deco inspired, chic, understated and effortlessly cool. Neutral colours, velvet furnishings, parquet floors, minimalistic touches and modern chandelier lights, the lounge music is the perfect volume (not head-banging loud or annoyingly quiet) and the lights dim as the evening progresses to create a more romantic vibe.
Settling in at the bar upon arrival, which stretches down the far end of the restaurant and is framed by dangling, twinkling rows of lights, it was very much time for a wind-down drink. The tipple of choice? Well that was a tough decision, as their signature drinks all sounded divine. But we opted for the ‘Disappear Hear’, a heavenly mix of Bloom Gin, cardamom, citrus, cranberry and Zonin Prosecco. Refreshingly fruity without being too sweet, it’s the perfect drink after a long day entertaining little ones.
Once seated at our table (I got the super squidgy and ridiculously comfy booth side, yay) we were given an amazing selection of home-made breads (focaccia, rye, corn – you name it) with olive oil and breadcrumbs to dip them in. Normally I try and refrain from stuffing my face with bread at restaurants, but once I started I actually couldn’t stop. This was the best bread basket ever. Once we had, quite literally, inhaled every last crumb, we sat back and relaxed, taking in the calming ambiance and enjoying the friendly and helpful hospitality of the staff. The kitchen is half open too, and being the nosy person I am, it was fun being able to see the chefs hard at work preparing our food.
Another thing I loved about Delphine is the fact the menu is small. Being a Libra, I am unbelievably indecisive, so having to choose from endless pages of mouth-watering options is an actual nightmare. The food celebrates the flavours of Southern California whilst giving a nod to local Arabic cuisine and there’s a fish, a meat, a comfort food and a veggie option. And they all sound amazing.
We opted to share two starters, the Crab & Scallop Kibbeh and the Spinach Artichoke Dip. Whilst both were undeniably tasty, the dip stole the show. I ended up scraping it out of the hot pot it arrived in as I couldn’t bear to waste any of its spinachy, artichokey, cheesy deliciousness. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it again.
For mains I opted for the Wild Pacific Prawns & Lemon Fettucini, which is cooked with sweet peppers, tomato, basil and white wine, whilst my other half went for the manly option of Dry Aged New York Strip Loin with herb butter and Truffle-cheese fries (good for me as I got to pinch some). And Tempura Broccolini & Special Hot Sauce on the side, of course. Unlike most ‘American’ restaurants the portions here are decent but not massive, which is good for me as I hate leaving things on my plate… We both thoroughly enjoyed it, although the boy said it would have been nice to have a choice of sauce for the steak.
Then it was onto deserts, and for me – ‘being a huge chocoholic’, it had to be the Chocolate Indulgence – a flourless chocolate cake on a crunchy base with bitter chocolate profiteroles and chocolate popcorn crisps on top. Yes please.
The boy went for the Goat’s Milk Yoghurt Panna Cotta which comes with organic fresh strawberries and a sugared vanilla donut, which I have to admit was even better than mine and I got a major case of food envy. Definitely one to try when you pay Delphine a visit. In fact, it all is – from the bread to the bar to the brocollini, the food here is excellent, and it doesn’t come with a ridiculously hefty price tag like most places in Dubai (the most expensive main was the steak which was Dh155). We left with full bellies and rested limbs, ready to take on the next day of babysitting… Delphine is definitely my new favourite date-night destination.
Delphine, H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai (+971) (0) 501 8623, www.h-hotel.com