Once best known for brunches and beaches, it’s a welcome change of pace that the emirate is now lauded for its opera house that wants to be accessible to all.
Dubai Opera finished its elegant rise from Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard in August 2016 and has been entertaining us since with a diverse mix of pop, Hollywood hits, musicals and even some opera.
As well as its own genre-crossing brand of culture, done Dubai-style, the Opera House also has an in-house restaurant that’s worth top billing.
Recently reborn as The Loft, it serves straightforward pre-show eats, dinner (that’s what we’re here for) and an ostentatious Friday brunch (packages from AED 299, 1pm-4pm), all in swanky but not stuffy surroundings.
When we arrive, the space on the rooftop of Dubai Opera has a pleasant buzz, like how the auditorium hums before a really good show.
When the restaurant re-opened to replace Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera, there could have been the temptation to take it down a kitsch theatre-themed route.
But the dining space is restrained, even classy, with chic curved booths, and the menu is firmly modern European and shaken up seasonally.
The starring role goes to seafood and the restaurant has its own raw bar of fresh oysters shipped in daily from Fujairah’s Dibba Bay and the bivalve big hitters of the UK and France. They start from AED 35 each, but if you want to drop thousands on Russian caviar, here, you can do that too.
All the offerings point towards the USP – whether you’re attending the opera or not, it’s an occasion diner, with prices to match.
Our watermelon and feta salad is simple, juicy and sweet (AED 35). Lobster ravioli brings a crustacean from Canada to be parceled up in pieces of glossy pasta (AED 169). Roasted baby chicken to share comes without a passport, but generous pairings of buttered vegetables and soft potato puree (AED 259).
Portions are so plentiful that we stick with scoops of sorbet and ice-cream for dessert (AED 49 for three of your favourite – stalwarts of chocolate and vanilla get our standing ovation).
Despite the A-list service, we discover there are no divas among the waiting staff – after the meal, they helpfully offer to parcel our leftovers, giving us probably the fanciest packed lunch in town the next day.
Out of cash, but the show must go on? At the time of writing, The Loft is serving a sundowners menu of beverages and bar bites, with everything priced at AED 35. Request a spot on the terrace for your free Burj Khalifa fix and you’ll have an evening that’ll bring the house down.
Dubai Week dines anonymously unless otherwise stated. Open 4pm-midnight daily (closed Sunday). Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. 04 3627312