If we were to say Americano in Jumeirah’s Souk Madinat lacks one element, it would have to be a hidden entrance complete with slide peephole; admission reserved for those in possession of a secret codeword or knock. For the atmosphere it successfully conveys is one of early 20th century prohibition frivolity complete with bold Art Deco geometric textile designs, parquet floors, and, most importantly, ‘Roaring’ flavours.
It was a typically warm evening when we wandered into the waterway-adjacent eatery. A few stoic souls braved the expansive terrace seating which, while picturesque, was a tad steamy for our liking. The dining room’s crisp conditioned air, vivacious atmosphere and plush corner banquette beckoned. Once sat, three pledges Americano promises on its signage: ‘Dinner, Drinks and Tomfoolery’ instantly became apparent. The latter is embodied by the excellent wait staff who absolutely know their stuff, though are well cast in their roles of part food guides - part entertainers. “Tu vuo’ fa’ Americano?” one host asked playing on the song made famous in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) and the restaurant’s name. Translated as “You’d like to be an American?”, when it came to becoming immersed in this particular menu, yes, that night we did.
The carte, much like the ambience, could never be labelled shy nor retiring. Bold ingredients and large portions are the name of the game here. Items such as the Hangover Benedict: a poached egg atop Wagyu beef cheek piled onto an English muffin, lathered in bergamot Hollandaise and truffle shavings; or charred cauliflower with spiced labneh and sumac aioli are just for starters. We opted for the Benedict and a couple of pleasant although de rigueur soft shell prawn tacos. The powerful Hollandaise won the day to the extent one of the party wished it drizzled on every subsequent dish. While this never came to pass, you can imagine the depth of feeling.
Next up, an underlying steakhouse vibe dictated we plumped for 300g of flat iron Black Angus ‘cooked’ as rare as the chef dared accompanied by expertly crisped fries, and yet more Wagyu cheek, now adorning buttered tagliatelle garnished with bacon, mushroom and Parmesan. If a kitchen’s worth is measured by how well the simple dishes are prepared, Americano’s is awarded five stars as a result of the steak alone. Tender, well-seasoned and crucially not overdone, we loved it. Surprisingly, however, the pasta was even better received. A medley of carby-meaty goodness, the recipe is a warm hug of a creation and a pretty decent stomach liner for the ensuing Jazz-Age flapping in which you’ll no doubt indulge once you’ve made your way through the extensive drinks list.
Where: Americano, Souk Madinat
Best dish: Hangover Benedict
Av. cost pp: Dh300