From happy hour six nights a week to some of Dubai’s most unusual signature dishes, Rhodes W1 has been surprising and satisfying diners since opening its doors to the public ten years ago.
In the lead up to its October anniversary, founder, chef and restaurateur Gary Rhodes admits there is more to his fine-dining establishment than first meets the eye.
Rhodes brings his very own “je ne sais quoi” that we know and love to the Grosvenor House Dubai restuarant. The Anglo-French-inspired menu takes diners on a culinary journey, giving them the opportunity to sample innovative pairings and fusions.
Throughout its ten year history, the restaurant has constantly kept things fresh with changes to its décor and menu. Speaking ahead of this week’s Middle East Hospitality Awards 2017 (September 18, 2017) – for which he is both an ambassador and judge – Rhodes describes what it takes to keep one of Dubai’s most popular restaurants on top, and revealed ten thingsyou might not know about the impressive eatery.
A distinctive part of the dining experience at W1 is the aperitif, a delicious white tomato soup. When asked about how it is made, Rhodes is notoriously secretive: “There’s a method of drawing all of the natural juices out of the tomato. These juices, which are absolutely clear, are where all the flavour is. People taste it, expecting it to be red, and wonder – how do they do this? If another chef or restaurant tries to mimic what we do, they won’t know the true method so won’t get the maximum flavour.”
Rhodes W1 has a few signature ingredients on its menu too. “Our salmon starter with candied lemon and spring onion risotto is absolutely sensational to eat,” he said. “The lemon takes hours to prepare. Because of the sugar content we’ve got to marinate it like a syrup. When you eat it, you get that slight bitterness and zestiness but it’s not too bitter, mostly sweet. That works into the risotto with the salmon on top to create a double combination of smoked and fresh. It is an attractive dish and the flavours are absolutely divine.”
Rhodes recently updated the W1 menu and there are many new items to look forward to. “There’s only a couple of popular dishes on there that we haven’t changed: the roast pork and the raspberry soufflé. Every other dish is different. A brand new menu will launch again in January 2018 and I have conducted lots of trials. I believe it’s going to be the best menu we’ve ever had.” A public trial of his next menu will take place in Hong Kong later this year, before being introduced to Dubai as a permanent fixture at Rhodes W1.
The restaurant closes for six weeks during summer (it re-opened in August). During this time, Rhodes experiments in the kitchen with food to create new dishes. He reveals it can take up to six months to perfect a single new dish.
The restaurant’s design transports you to a summer day in the English countryside. W1 is set in contemporary surroundings, with wooden floors, sleek furnishing and splashes of colour and greenery.
Its terrace has panoramic, interrupted views of Dubai Marina and on a winter’s evening, it’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day. “In the evenings, when the Marina is lit up, and beautiful boats are coming up along the water and you’re sitting out on the terrace, enjoying a cold drink – you’re thinking – this is heaven,” relished Rhodes.
The bar and restaurant boasts a happy hour that lasts for four hours, six days a week. From 7.30pm – 11.30pm diners or bar goers can indulge in a wide selection of beverages from just 25 AED each. The happy hour bar menu is also not to be missed, with a range of gourmet mini-bites to share.
During the festive season, Rhodes is one of the only celebrity chefs known to personally cook for patrons in his restaurant – which he has done for the past six years at W1. He said: “Last year, on December 25, we hosted around 135 people at Rhodes W1 for a festive lunch. I always go to talk to the tables afterwards and that took me almost two hours with the number of people, it was absolutely cracking!”
Rhodes W1 transforms into a spectacular event space for up to 90 people. “It’s great. You have all your own private space. Having the terrace and two bars – one inside and one outside means there’s entertainment all around.”
Towards the end of 2017, the restaurant will throw a party with a signature menu designed specially in celebration of its tenth birthday. Details will be announced in due course, but guests can expect to re-live some of the most popular signature dishes Rhodes has created there in the last ten years.
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