The Grape Escape is a cosy hidden gem, tucked away between the other big food and beverage outlets at Hilton Dubai The Walk. But on Thursdays, they put on a cheese and grape deal that’s so good, you’d be Emmental to not Comte try it out.
It’s a venue that quite deliberately exudes the air of an Alpine eatery with low lighting, pine wood paneling, checkered table cloths and a slanted ceiling. It’s a convincing enough chalet interior to fool the mind into confusing bursts of air con, for fresh bellows of off-piste breeze.
We’ve come to The Grape Escape to try out their AED 129 L’Apres Ski deal, which promises unlimited cheese, raclette, fondue and a glass of grape. We start with freshly sliced charcuterie, the healthy portions (a quantity that is a welcome theme of the venue) of European cured meats served with fragrant warm bread. At AED 129, and Matter-horned with pure cured flavour, we would happily survive off this platter alone. But up the slope, to new culinary heights we must climb.
Our waiter Imran is already exceptional in his attentiveness, recommending grape vintages and explaining what our next food options are (essentially, that we may choose whichever route for the ascent we prefer). We opt for raclette.
For those unfamiliar with Swiss mountain cuisine, raclette is the name of a cheese. But, slightly confusingly, it’s also the name of a dish which sees the eponymous cheese being melted and allowing the fondant shelf of thick dairy goodness to slide off, avalanche-like, on to potatoes and cold cuts of meat.
It’s a ritual that’s having a bit of resurgence in Dubai (must be the fact that the weather and general topography of Dubai and mountainous central Europe are so similar). There are multiple restaurant raclette offerings that we have not sampled yet, but so far, this is our favourite. Served piping hot straight to your table and still gleefully bubbly and molten is the only way to experience it.
Next up, fondue. Ah – cheese fondue. A seemingly simple dish to prepare, but there is a delicate alchemy to it. The traditional cheeses involved are Gruyère and Comté; they’re melted into a garlic-rubbed cast pot with a substantial quantity of grape. Nutmeg follows. The art appears in the balance of the proportions and in sourcing the individual ingredients. Here L’Apres Ski has another hit on its hands. A solid fondue is served and enjoyed with rustic crusty bread.
There are other cheeses on offer, along with appropriate accompaniments. They join a spread of confiture and fruit, biscuits and crackers, more charcuterie, pickled cornichons and other Franco-Swiss fare. But quite frankly, we are already far too well-fed to dabble in the side-show.
AED 129. 7pm-11pm. Thursdays. The Grape Escape, Hilton Dubai The Walk, LP Level. 04 318 2319.