By Emily Shardlow www.thenational.ae
It was the promise of goat on the menu that prompted my visit to Asado, the Argentinean steak restaurant at The Palace-The Old Town. We sat outside at a table facing the Burj Dubai lake, the Khalifa looming in the background and every so often, we saw the tail end of the Dubai fountain. Goat or no goat, first impressions were good.
As we flicked through the menu, a waiter carrying a tray laden with raw meat appeared. That might sound a trifle strange, but he was there to talk us through the various steaks available. I found this genuinely helpful; from the weight or cut alone, it is often difficult to gauge just how big a piece of meat actually is.
When it came to the crunch, we decided that as first-time tasters, it was probably wise not to order the cabrito entero asado (whole roast baby goat); instead we shared a starter-sized portion. A plate piled high with hunks of meat arrived. Tentatively, we speared forkfuls and took small, suspicious mouthfuls. I’m not exactly sure what I’d been expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised. The texture of the tender meat was similar to that of slow-roasted lamb, but it had a tangier, deeper flavour and was much less fatty. The overriding taste was a strong, smoky one, as you’d expect from something that has been slow cooked over a charcoal fire. The roasted skin, meanwhile, was juicy and perfectly crisp. I can’t say that goat is my new favourite meat, but it’s certainly something that I’ll eat again.
We also tried the grilled provolone cheese. Although it wasn’t spiced, as the menu had suggested, it was still very nice. The gooey cheese was milky and mild and the young, undeveloped flavour made a nice contrast to the pungent goat meat, particularly when eaten with a few pieces of crunchy raw onion. I would advise sharing this dish though; it is after all, just a plate of cheese and therefore rather rich on its own. My friend ordered the 250g sirloin medium rare, with side orders (one of which was included in the price of the steak) of mashed potato and mushrooms. The steak itself was ever so slightly tough and wasn’t the best that I’ve tasted in Dubai, but nonetheless it was tasty and full of chargrilled flavour. Side orders were presented in sweet little pans; the mash was buttery and smooth as you would expect and the plump mushrooms were well seasoned. Four different sauces were served with the steak and the classic Argentinean chimichurri was the best of a good bunch. It was full of grassy parsley flavour, with a bit of garlic and a sweet sharpness courtesy of a little vinegar.
My sea bass was moist, meaty and slightly sweet. Had the flabby grey skin been crisper, it would’ve been even better. The cockle sauce served with the fish was light and delicate, but it didn’t actually contain any cockles, which I found strange. Four little shells looked very pretty on the plate, but sadly they were empty. Still, the pale green bean purée at the bottom of the bowl was subtly flavoured and rather nice – much like the dish itself.
For dessert, we shared dulce de leche pancakes: papery thin crepes covered with a silky toffee sauce, topped with a quennelle of real vanilla ice cream and a spiral of tuille biscuit. A truly sugary concoction, but one that ensured the meal ended as happily as it had begun.
Asado is not for those in search of a dainty, refined meal. What this restaurant delivers is flavourful, robust, well-cooked food, served in lovely surroundings.
Asado, The Palace-The Old Town, A meal for two, including service cost Dh665. For reservations call 04 428 7888. All meals are paid for by The National and reviews are done incognito.