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As soon as I hear the Armani hotel has FINALLY opened, following several delays and a volcanic eruption, my blackberry immediately calls hotel restaurant reservations.

So what exactly does the Armani Hotel offer Dubai? Anything new? Anything exciting? Or just an extension of the existing restaurants in Dubai? Read on… you won’t be disappointed.

The restaurants they currently offer:

–        Hashi: A modern Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar and grill section featuring a live DJ, lounge and terrace. Open for dinner.

–        Peck: An Italian inspired, semi casual, organic restaurant offering a variety of beautifully presented cheeses, salads, pastas, main courses and desserts. Open for dinner.

–        Ristorante: An ultra elegant Italian fine dining restaurant. Open for both lunch and dinner.

–        Mediterraneo: A Mediterranean buffet which also has an a la cart menu. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

–        Amal: An authentic Indian restaurant with an open kitchen and terrace. Open for dinner.

My selection process goes something like this: Hashi, Dubai is full of modern Japanese restaurants so no. Peck, casual so no. Mediterraneo, buffet so no. Amal sounds interesting. Ristorante YES that’s the one! Considering that Armani is Italian and Ristorante is a fine dining concept, I presume that this restaurant should symbolize everything the hotel represents.

After giving in my name, phone number, email address and even car license plate number, I have a reservation at Ristorante which is confirmed by both SMS and E-mail.

Driving up to the Armani hotel my surroundings are magnificent. A playful fountain welcomes me while the grandiose and omnipotent like Burj Khalifa towers over me. I give my reservation number to the gate guard, which he verifies on his laptop and we’re in!

We enter the lobby and my eyes are drawn up and up and up… high ceilings – my ultimate favorite; I wouldn’t expect anything lest from the tallest tower in the world. I inquire about the size of the lobby, “Why not so extravagantly big?” I ask.

The hostess responds by explaining that Armani wanted to capture an elegant homey feeling and when guests arrive they don’t check in a personal hotel representative takes care of those details, so there is no need for a grand lobby.

Ristorante

We are ushered into Ristorante and I am instantly wowed by the design. I can describe it in one word Armani; sleek, beautiful and extremely elegant.  We are given golden menus and I’m pleased by their focus on quality rather than quantity of dish selections. With the help of the head chef, we make our choices.

The first dish that arrives is a mozzarella based amuse-bouche. The mozzarella has a mousse like texture, nothing I’ve tasted or seen before, with a black olive and slice of fresh tomato. I now understand why an amuse-bouche is served; the freshness of the plate unlocks my appetite with every bite.

Our burrata (a kind of mozzarella cheese) appetizer arrives.  If I knew the amuse-bouche was going to be mozzarella I would have changed my appetizer, slight mozzarella overload. The grilled vegetables complement the dish well and include grilled zucchini, eggplant, asparagus and bell pepper. The basil is powerful and the two pealed cherry tomatoes are my favorite.

Our saffron risotto comes next. The risotto reminds me of a sunflower, brownish in the center with a rich yellow surrounding. The rice is cooked well, slightly el dente just the way it should be and the consistency feels like a light, smooth, cream. The lamb chunks are very tender and engulfed with a rich meat sauce. To me, the dish represents comfort food prepared and presented in a very sophisticated way.

Our veal tenderloin arrives. I’ll start explaining from top to bottom; three shavings of truffle, cooked foie gras, veal, a puree of fresh peas, grilled onions, pea sprouts, pine seeds and sauce specially drizzled by the chef himself at our table. Explaining all the different flavors in this dish would be impossible. The veal is extremely tender, the onions are balls of sweetness, the puree of peas are a beautiful color and consistency and the truffles need no explanation. The dish is extravagant to say the least. The hardest part is getting all the ingredients on my fork for a colossal bite.

Placing my dessert in front of me the waiter explains that I chose the best one on the menu. In front of me is a golden sphere. The manager approaches our table and begins to explain the making of my dessert. Sugar is heated into caramel, the caramel is then blown into a sphere – similar to glass, and then the filling of crème caramel, crumbles, a white chocolate truffle and raspberry sauce are delicately place inside the sphere.  And let’s not forget the 24 karat shaving – Love the gold touch. Several pictures and minutes of admiring later I crack open my golden sphere and prove that it tastes as excellent as it looks. The crème caramel has a lovely vanilla flavor and the raspberry sauce was oh so raspberry.

The meal is exceptional – nothing I’ve seen or tasted in Dubai and definitely on a level of its own.

Did I mention that they have an open kitchen where you can see the master chefs silently at work?

My experience at the Ristorante ends when I reach my house. My BB lights up with a “Thank you for dinning at Ristorante. We look forward to having you in the near future.”  – How sweet, I rhetorically respond “No, thank You for opening and right next to my house!”

The next restaurant I would go for is Amal then Hashi then Peck and then Mediterraneo. Reviews of the rest to follow.

– A Love at First Bite Restaurant

Cuisine: Italian. Price per Couple: 1,000 AED. Location: Burj Khalifa. Tel: 04 888 3888. Open: Lunch and Dinner. Licensed.

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