Yeah, I did two ladies nights in two days. I am a beast. I am getting them both out there though so that I can have space to blog about a rather good weekend that’s coming up too!!!
Cook Hall is the American gastro pub (agreed – gastro pubs should be British) at the Westin in Al Habtoor City. It was quite an exciting find really. I’ve not been to anything in the new cluster of hotels, and so there was the excitement of catching up with Carla, and there was also exploring somewhere new!
It was FUN! I really liked it. It’s insides I would describe as “industrial chic” and there were very “Gaucho” cushions in the booths. The booths themselves are very high backed so you don’t get disturbed by the party behind you, and they are actually super comfortable which is surprising!
The team are great. I have ice in my wine because I like it very cold. normally I have to ask over and over again, but this guy (whose name escapes me due to aforementioned wine) remembered every time! He is a gem!!
Ladies Night offers you three free drinks – either wine, a cosmo, an espresso martini or a signature cocktail. Bargain! It’s from 8pm. They also let you use your Entertainer vouchers at the same time. Or rather, they let us because we got there at 6.15pm and had 3 glasses of wine at the regular price before Ladies Night started! I remember the bill saying something about happy hour and having a further AED 20 off because of that, but I have no idea. I just wanted to pay and crawl into my bed by that point!
The food was… a mix to be honest.
We started with one of the best things I’ve ever had containing cheese! It was terrifyingly good. Seriously, you need to have this at least once.
The Bread Box. No box involved, thankfully! This was just amazing. Sour dough bread, carved out. A wheel of Camembert is then added, seasoned with garlic and rosemary, and then baked. To perfection. It was just divine. Honestly, I cannot say enough good about this at all.
I have had baked Camembert before that is all tough in the middle but molten on the outsides. This wasn’t. It was slightly harder in the middle, but in a good way. The outside was melty goodness that you could dunk your toasted sour dough chunks into. You could then rip apart the ‘bowl’ and dunk that too.
It was so incredibly good. We hoovered that up in a heartbeat. It wasn’t too big either. Yes, we needed quite a pause between courses, but it hadn’t been the size where you feel sick after eating so much cheese. It was just right.
We both agreed whole heartedly that we would be back like a shot for that. We then got distracted by talking about all the different wine and cheese nights that Dubai had to offer, and why red wine gives Carla migraines. Then we praised The Bread Box some more as they came to clear away the crumbs that were left – all over the table but I had swept them up as much as possible because I hate mess!!!
Sadly, after this, it all gets not as exciting to type about, except for the band who were surprisingly good!!!
This still makes me sad, even now….
This is the mac’n’cheese we ordered as a side with our main courses. We are both BIG fans. Normally. Given that we were in an American gastro pub, I had expected so much better. I was really very disappointed.
The presentation was beautiful which almost made it worse when you had a little and discovered it was the most bland thing you have tasted for an age. I really wish I was joking.
The sauce was just nothing. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad dish. It had quite a nice consistency but no flavour. I could taste a tiny hint of cheese, but it’s mac’n’cheese. You want to see the noodles and you want to taste the cheese. Not recognise that there has been cheese added at some point.
It was actually such a let-down that when the waiter came over to check how everything was, I sent it back. It wasn’t worth the calories to pick at it which I would have done if it was left there. Like I said, it wasn’t actually bad. It was just a huge let down.
Then there were our main courses…
Carla and I had both agreed that the Black Cod sounded nice and light after the heavy starter. She really fancied it so I said that as long as I could try it, I would pick another dish! I am such a good friend, I know! Well, that and a great sounding menu helped!!!
It came and it looked nice enough, and it was. It was just nothing spectacular.
Black Cod is lovely and because it’s slightly less flaky than normal cod, it’s very often used here but with a Miso glaze. In fact, it’s so widely used like that, when it comes just nicely cooked with no seasoning, it’s a little dull. You expect so much more. That is our fault and not the restaurants. It was nice, but not exciting.
The “smashed sweet potato” was more like a puree and had a very odd taste that I can’t put my finger on. I didn’t try the broccolini so I can’t comment but it looked nice. A bit more on the plate would have been good I think. Two pieces is a bit of an apology.
Not my kind of thing at all. I was quite pleased by this point that I had opted to let her have it and not argued my case at all!! She enjoyed it mostly, but not the sweet potato either.
For my alternative main course, and still harbouring some resentment for not having the cod at the time of ordering, I went for “The Dribbler”. Go big or go home, right!?
The Dribbler is a wagu burger in a molten cheese bap, with maple-glazed onions, veal bacon, mashed tomatoes and a fried hens egg. The reason that it won the burger toss (there was only two meat choices in fairness) was the hens egg. I love eggs on burgers – after I’ve cut out the white of course!!!
It really didn’t’ stand up to its menu hype. Sorry. I really wanted it to.
Why was it a let-down? Because actually, the only component that I really enjoyed was the molten cheese bap, which I will explain in a moment! The wagu beef patty was incredibly dense. I still feel it sat in my stomach. The maple-glazed onions must have been a Tinder match rather than a marriage because they weren’t flavoursome at all. The mashed tomatoes were very sparingly used. The veal bacon was stringy. The egg was also good because you really can’t mess up an egg, right!!
(Unless you’re one of my ex-flat mates who tried to fry eggs on a George Forman grill and couldn’t work out why it was failing!!!!)
I would also like to say that it was the best ketchup I have ever had. It may even be better than the ketchup at Baker & Spice! Wait… no… but I think they tied. I don’t know what this one was bit I am thinking it might be homemade? I will have to go back and investigate some more!
Now for the bap… with some pictures to assist my words…
On top of my burger was sat a whole bread roll. It wasn’t soft and fluffy either. It was a really odd experience. So I decided, having forgotten what the menu said, that I would cut it in half. Then I found this goo in the middle. I am pretty sure that it was the same sauce that was used in the mac’n’cheese. It wasn’t hugely cheesy. It was however really quite nice. It made the really heavy bread slightly lighter, and was great for mopping bits up.
Make no mistakes, the burger is VERY well named! I made such a mess that I would have been so embarrassed if I hadn’t known Carla for approaching 20 years!!!!
It took me an absolute age to eat because I was gossiping but also because it was massive. I ended up about half way through, giving up trying to eat it like a burger and using a knife and fork. It was the only way I could carry on because I don’t like getting that messy! I would suggest that going forward, they give you extra napkins and a finger bowl – or only me. But I had to stop myself from getting up half way through the meal to go wash my hands!
I am really quite sad that the main courses were so average to blah. The starter and the wine had started the bar so high, and the rest just failed to match up.
We did however have a great time! Our ladies night drinks (wine isn’t great as a heads up – go with the cocktails!) accompanied the band very well. It’s a trio with a predominantly female lead. The chaps do a couple of bits but it’s her. She actually was rather good which makes for a lovely change in Dubai currently! They are normally either squawky Mariah/Christina ho-bag types, or they have that “hollow” sound that everyone is doing at the moment. I hate that. This chick just sang. She changed her voice for the songs but with the exception of one which is in a funny key and very few people can sing properly, she did a cracking job!
Despite the disappointing main course, I would absolutely go back. There were some great sounding dishes and watching them leave the kitchen, they looked as good as they sounded.