The MAINE Oyster Bar & Grill
It's about time Dubai got an Oyster Bar! Tucked away in the loading dock of Double Tree Hilton, on the edge of JBR's coastline, The MAINE is a seaside brasserie with a family style menu which includes everything from steaks and chops, to fresh fish and seafood, to pot roasts and steamers. Independently operated by restauranteurs and being a cross between an American brasserie and a European bistro, means it's not complete without a unique raw bar showcasing fresh oysters, fashionable crudo (fresh raw fish), ceviche and a range of seafood towers. The effect is of a fisherman’s warehouse where daily batches of seafood, meat and vegetables are delivered directly to the kitchen and into the hands of head chef Liam Breen, who was previously Sous Chef of Cave restaurant at The Conrad Dubai.
The MAINE's interior, designed by founder Joey Ghazal, is extremely warm with lots of brick, leather, and brass along with touches of glamour which shone through in the oyster-shell chandeliers, hand-painted wall-mounted mirror menus, as well as classic blue and ivory crockery. Joey Ghazal has a bit of a history in transforming empty spaces into the towns' newest hotspots having been involved with award-winning Angry Monkey in Lebanon and Dubai's Stereo Arcade. Big band music sets the tone along with edgy young chefs, tongue-in-cheek quotes and bearded men with bow ties!
After exploring the interiors we sat down at our table on the terrace and sous chef Saradhi Dakara walked us through the menu. The king of pre-openings, this is his 4th in 6 years. We were both part of the pre-opening team at Fairmont The Palm 4 years ago which is when I got to know him well. Extremely ambitious and a perfectionist, Saradhi recommended his favorites off the menu.
I've never been a huge fan of oysters, I don't dislike them but I would never go out of my way to try them either! My experience at The MAINE was the first time I can truly say I enjoyed eating oysters ..... And couldn't resist reaching for another! Freshly shucked and served with the classic mignonette, lemon and Tabasco – with a nice twist of some horseradish.
We also found the best Lobster Rolls in town foodies, absolutely divine! Poached in a butter sauce and stuffed in a potato roll with aioli and old bay seasoning. Served with the most addictive, thinly sliced and crunchy home-made potato crisps
The Jerk Crabacado was another favorite on the table that afternoon. Jamaican jerk spice, Canadian snow crab, avocado and bread crumbs - You just can't go wrong with that combination can you?! Hello Beautiful!
Now. Everyone knows my love for Mythos' Grilled Octopus, it went down as one of my favorite dishes of 2015, never in a million years did I imagine that you could make octopus taste better than that! ....Until now.... This was delicious! Chargrilled Octopus with Puttanesca sauce, sunchoke puree and a smoky aftertaste. Cooked to perfection.
Crispy Fish Tacos! This was the stuff of dreams - Crispy battered Cod, soft flour tortilla, pico de gallo, lemon aioli and tabasco! #yesplease
My favorite 'main' had to be the roasted fillet of Halibut, lightly sautéed so the top had a golden crunch, served on a bed of mashed potatoes with beef bacon, green peas and a few sprigs of dill, all draped in Bearnaise sauce. I could eat that all day err'day!
We also sampled the Spicy Shrimp Linguini - pan roasted prawns, spicy tomato sauce and bottarga (delicacy of salted, cured fish roe), and the Fish & Chips, which had the most crispy battered haddock - mushy peas needed some work though!
At this point we were in a major food coma and way too full to even think about dessert, guess we'll just have to make our way back, any excuse to return! We were advised to come in the evening next time, the atmosphere is buzzing then. Blending a post-industrial design aesthetic with laid-back New England grub, the retro-vintage feel is a winning combination and pays homage to the state whose slogan proclaims: "The Way Life Should Be". Simple, high quality ingredients - Done well.
Until next time foodies, thank you for reading xo