How Dubai’s Fine Dining Became Delivery Friendly

25 May 2020
Lockdown, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Stay at Home, Food, Dining Restaurant, Food Delivery, La Petite Maison, Coya, ZUMA, Nobu, Avli by Tashas
A city on lockdown meant restaurants had to rethink their strategy

I was aware of how it looked. The world in the midst of a global pandemic, cities on lockdown, and me having a load of five-star food delivered. There’s a potential for trouble in that, for moral tumult. But then these are unprecedented times, and as John Lennon quite rightly said, “Whatever gets you through the night,” right?

For some people, solace has been found by making fun videos with the family to share on social media. For others, a cultural revolution of sorts: a time to read books they never quite finished, or to tick-off classic movies from a long-forgotten bucket list. My own salvation came via biodegradable boxes and a feast of French food, all delivered to the door by a man in a bow-tie and face mask. What can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants.

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It made sense of course. In a community on lockdown, food delivery is king. But while that’s all good with a burger from Five Guys, it’s a little at odds with the ethos of fine dining. In this city, usually, it’s all about the experience. It’s about the sights, sounds and smells, the seeing and being seen. But an empty restaurant counts for naught. So, with no customers for the foreseeable future, the big-names have embraced the role of fourth emergency service. Yes, you might be stuck at home, but does that mean your life needs to fall into ruinous chaos? Not a bit of it. Grilled lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine from LPM were just a phone call away. Together, we could get through this.

I suppose the biggest mystery of all is why the luxury industry hadn’t done this sooner. After all, the global delivery app market is in rude health – predicted for a worth of $16.6 billion by 2023. The lockdown had taken things one of two ways. Either you had gone nuclear and (gulp) actually learned how to cook. Or way more likely, you were burning through your Deliveroo app with even more gusto than usual. But how do you elevate it? How do you maintain the integrity of the brand? How do you keep it all warm in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road?

With that in mind, I stepped up. Ready to evaluate where we all stood. I felt I could speak for the people via my unique perspective. Growing up, food delivery was never really a thing in my house. It was an extravagance to be viewed with suspicion, much like having regular holidays abroad or being a two-car family. In fact, never mind delivery, a takeout was a something of a red-letter day at home, and the occasional fish and chips or MSG-soaked Chinese meal felt like the height of luxury. So, who better than me to see if this was worth it or not – or if we all needed to take a good look at ourselves, pour some hot water over a Pot Noodle and appreciate what’s really important.

First rule of luxe delivery club? Do not speak about luxe delivery club. Seriously. At least not to my family – they still wouldn’t understand. Second rule: include the classics. Few would be interested if they couldn’t get the spicy beef fillet from Coya, or the baby roast chicken from LPM. But here’s the crucial part, they need to taste as good as they do in the restaurant. And by and large, they do. And when you’re done with it all it’s actually pretty neat that, in the main, boxes are biodegradable and the feast environmentally friendly.

Other than that, it’s all about the detail. Just like when you buy some Grenson shoes and find a beautiful shoe brush in the box to take care of them with, here, experience was taken into consideration. Coya offered tasty vitamin drinks, LPM came with hand-painted tote bags and a Spotify playlist to transport you to the South of France. And so, for a few glorious nights I ate like a king. Stopping only to consider which handcrafted morsel to go for next.

Whether luxe deliveries continue post-lockdown is anybody’s guess. While the level of quality and attention to detail is clearly impressive, you could never see it replacing the in-house experience. But that’s ok. Nobody really wants it to. It’s just nice to have as an option, not just for global pandemics, but special occasions, too. In fact, now we’re moving into Ramadan, well, what a chance to break the fast with gusto.

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As for me, well I have some concerns. Don’t get me wrong, the food was great, but if I can afford to get this delivered regularly I may never leave the house again – look at me, the fanciest recluse in town.

New Order... Hold your smartphone camera over the codes below for luxe iftar options

LPM

La Petite Maison has included all the greats – burrata with tomato and basil, baby roast chicken, vanilla cheesecake – and presents them beautifully. From the olive oil bottle, to hand-painted tote bags, to the Spotify playlist to enjoy while eating. That it’s then delivered by a man in a bow-tie is enough to tip even the fussiest of eaters over the edge.

COYA

While you can still head to Coya for a takeaway, our advice is to go all-in decadent and have it brought to you. Make the tiger prawns, spicy beef fillet, and churros an essential part of any order, and take the opportunity to whip up your own guacamole and stick it on Instagram for public acclaim. Keep an eye out for their iftar offering, too.

ZUMA

One of the major success stories of the UAE food scene – no mean feat when you consider the competition. In classic Zuma style, there’s no big fanfare here, it’s a ‘deliver it and they will come’ ethos – which you know will work just fine. The delivery is available both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and you know that top quality will come
as standard.

NOBU

It’s hard to argue with the merits of a restaurant owned by Robert De Niro and helmed by a chef with Michelin-Starred blood running through his veins. There are genuinely good deals, too, with some dishes starting from $8. The chance to enjoy the classic black cod at home is too great to miss. A single drawback? They only deliver to Palm Jumeriah.

Avli by Tashas

While not quite a decadent as the others, Avli offers two different menu options that include the likes of sizzling lamb, creamy pasta, delicious pita breads with tapenade and fresh Greek salad. This one is all about minimum fuss and maximum quality. Best used as a tasty lunchtime treat as opposed to all-out-excess dinner.