Making a Marco

Making a Marco

Marco Pierre White dishes up great modern British fare; now all it needs is the in-crowd to go there



Thursday night.

9.06pm.

Marco Pierre White.

Say those three lines to anyone who doesn’t know what city you’re talking about, and there’s one assumption — Full. Busy. Rammed. Reserve well in advance and you might lock a table six months from calling.

And your assumption would be true if we were talking about London, New York, Hong Kong or Sydney. So how is it that at 9.06pm on a Thursday night — at the start of the UAE weekend, halfway through the booming winter tourist season — Marco Pierre White, in the recently opened Conrad Dubai hotel, a luxury property that sits front and centre on the city’s jugular SZR thoroughfare, well, how is it that the restaurant’s only two thirds full?

That’s a perplexing mystery, but the more important question is thus… Is it a reflection of the city’s saturated dining sector, or a reflection of the restaurant’s offerings? Whenever I see a restaurant struggling to fill seats at peak times I become concerned, often for good reason. On the flip side, if the food and service are amazing, then I file any concern post haste and relish the fact that I’m enjoying a superb experience with limitless attention from ample staff. Always look on the bright side.

At Marco Pierre White, you get a bit of both. The cuisine is simple, tasty, modern British fare. Don’t let Marco’s Italian-French first names fool you. This is all about Brit cuisine and for the most part, it’s bang on. Top marks go to the duck liver pâté that boasts a rich flavour straight out of France (making my previous statement regarding Brit grub somewhat inaccurate), and you should also try the house cured gravlax of salmon, which is a delightfully fragrant, fresh fish choice that’ll leave plenty of space for mains.

But now for the downside… The mains are good, but options are limited and prices high; you’ll likely do a double take at some of the numbers. The lobster, costing Dh370, is no more than six mouthfuls, valuing each bite at more than Dh60. It has to be fine, fine lobster at that price. More was needed. Fortunately the T-bone steak made up for it, matching a high-sided price to a vast portion of flavourful beef. Teamed with ample sides, it was a winning order.

Accompanying your Thursday evening, for those that deign to attend at 9.06pm, is a stellar pianist who trots out the favourites to guests. Live music is always a favourite when dining, so it makes me even more curious as to why Marco Pierre White fails to fill every seat, every night.

The prices may be on the high side, but for those keen on dining under the auspices of a respected brand, that should be of little surprise.

Maybe all it needs is for the in-crowd to fit Conrad Dubai into their busy schedules and those seats might be filled. Or it needs more lobster. What do I know? Decide for yourselves.


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