Restaurant review: RARE, Melia Desert Palm
Some dining experiences are all about the food. Others can be memorable even before they begin. RARE at Melia Desert Palm falls into the second category.
The 25-minute drive from Downtown Dubai transports you to a lush green getaway set amidst a 160-acre polo estate. With its chic and contemporary design, the secluded yet beautiful Melia Desert Palm property makes you feel like you've left the hustle and bustle of the city far behind. At its signature restaurant RARE, the oakwood-fired grill with al fresco terrace and indoor dining overlooks massive polo fields and the glittering Dubai skyline for an intimate dinner. Paired with delicious food and a quiet atmosphere, the experience was nothing less than truly bespoke.
We started with their signature appetizers — assorted empanadas, prawn croquettes and lobster tail. The lobster tail was fresh, smothered in a buttery garlic herb sauce and grilled under high heat, making it crispy, tender and juicy. The prawn croquettes were perfectly fried, crispy on the outside and creamy and flavourful on the inside. As for the assorted empanadas, there were three varieties — chicken, beef and prawns. The crust of the empanadas was perfect — flaky and not too thick or doughy. Served with a vibrant tomato salsa of onions, peppers and garlic, they were a delicious treat.
For mains, we started with the beef sirloin. With a light marbling of fat throughout the meat, the sirloin had a wonderful flavour and melted in your mouth. A good-quality rib-eye steak should be your go-to dinner choice. Our next main had to be this. The rib-eye steak had a rich, meaty aroma and taste. Cooked exactly as we ordered, medium well, it was very tender and succulent. We had no room for desserts, but we couldn't give the traditional churros a miss. Crispy and coated in cinnamon sugar, it is served with pure chocolate indulgence — the ultimate treat to end our meal.
Taste (5/5): A fantastic selection of food but, more importantly, high quality, flavourful and delicious. The carefully curated list reflects the chef's confidence in the ingredients and flavours he has chosen to offer. The centrepiece of the kitchen is a wood-fired grill and oven on which the most amazing steaks are prepared.
Ambience (4/5): Set amongst the lush green polo fields and gardens, the equestrian air of this restaurant meets stylish and contemporary design. The location is beautiful, calm and peaceful, which makes a lovely change from the bustling city restaurants. If you fancy eating with a view, then this is your place to go.
Service (4/5): The staff was extremely helpful, friendly and efficient, making the overall experience well worth the drive out. They gave us the utmost attention when we wanted to know details about each dish served.
Presentation (4/5): The food presentation was very professional and enough to engage a diner’s senses and draw them into the experience. The plates were attractively presented with sauces, sides and garnishing.
Value for money (5/5): A dinner for two here could will cost you Dh400 approximately without drinks. For the kind of location, ambience and food, it's still a top deal with mains like Rib Eye steak (Dh230) or a beef sirloin (Dh150) and starters like Empanadas (Dh40), lobster tail (Dh100), which are decently priced. If you're there when there is a polo match, it's an added bonus.