Restaurant review: Soho Garden's latest offerings

By Joydeep Sen Gupta

Published: Sun 31 Jan 2021, 7:48 PM

Dubai’s popular Soho Garden has opened a brand-new hops garden -- Soho Beer Garden -- on December 23 just in the nick of time for Christmas and New Year’s Eve revellers.

Briton Nick Walsh, 49, a former executive chef of Etihad Airways, is the brain behind the new culinary destination, which made its debut during the festive season at the idyllic Meydan racecourse, known for its exquisite multi-cuisine gastronomic experience.

The new establishment, which is located adjacent to Soho Garden, is a one-stop destination for Foxglove, a heritage British gastropub with traditional décor and authentic British and Irish beverage selection, under a mellow UAE winter sun amid the nationwide celebrations of the "coolest winter in the world".

Though the settings have a combined cover of around 550, the current seating arrangement is only 50 per cent of the original strength because of the unprecedented raging coronavirus disease outbreak.

The expansive outdoor venue is a perfect backdrop for a leisurely four-course Friday brunch for a hip, urbane crowd, who can enjoy a sumptuous meal while being entertained with chartbusters by a live band and an attentive service of 25-odd staff under the able supervision of Darko Teavavonic.

The brunch, which was launched on January 8 and around two weeks since the restaurant opened, has already been a runaway hit.

The four-hour Friday must-do between 1 and 5 pm has been drawing hipsters and professionals who want to let their hair down and dig into nibbles and light bites and wash them down with free-flowing beverages.

The menu has been designed by corporate executive chef Walsh, where his personal touches stand out at the outset: starters such as smoked chicken and chorizo croquettes, chicken sausage rolls with Branston pickle and homemade piccalilli and pretzels with honey mustard dip work up your appetite.

The grill selections – from veal bratwurst, a German dish, to lamb merguez, which traces its origin to North Africa’s spicy and earthy flavour, to beef chorizo, a Mediterranean sausage – are a conscious deviation from the English nibbles in a bid to celebrate Dubai’s multiculturism.

The menu has been carefully designed by corporate executive chef Walsh, where his personal touches stand out at the outset: Starters such as smoked chicken and chorizo croquettes, sausage rolls with Branston pickle and homemade piccalilli with pretzels and honey mustard dip works up your appetite.

The main course, however, will bring you right back to north- west England, as you get set to gorge into Walsh’s top pick – pulled wagyu beef, Yorkshire pudding and beef gravy – or take your pick between herb-marinated picalou chicken, a French dish, accompanied by Italian flatbread with chargrilled peppers, pesto, and mozzarella, the traditional southern Italian cheese.

The meal can be rounded off by pampering your sweet tooth.

Take your pick from double chocolate, assorted ice creams or selection of sliced fruits, as the sun goes down on the idyllic and majestic Meydan.

Patrons are likely to be satiated by a hearty weekend meal, as they work up an appetite for an encore --- rustled up by Walsh and his 10 colleagues --- in the weeks to come.

All dishes come with a spoilers' alert of containing dairy, vegan, gluten, shellfish etc.

Taste (5): Freshly sourced ingredients, despite the Covid-19 challenge such as flight restrictions, lend an authentic ring to the leisurely weekend eating-out experience

Ambience (4): The settings go well with seasonal preferences: Beer Garden for cool UAE winter and Foxglove for the upcoming sultry summer months

Service (5): Walsh and Teavavonic’s teams are like an orchestra in harmony, where not a single beat is out of place, as they work in tandem to keep your appetite going

Presentation (5): The works are in place. The visual feel makes you savour the dishes piping hot once they start being laid out on the table. Garnishing of dips such as Branston pickle and homemade piccalilli show God, indeed, lies in detail

Value for Money (5): At Dh250 a meal, it’s a real deal. Better work up an appetite before you head to the leisurely brunch and to eat

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