If you can't stand the heat in Dubai…pop back to the UK

09 August 2002 by
If you can't stand the heat in Dubai…pop back to the UK

Hello again from Dubai. It's getting even hotter. It was 46°C the day I flew off on my vacation. Most of Dubai closes down for the months of July and August because of the weather. It's just too damn hot!

The Arabs go to Europe and the expat women go back to their country of origin, so there is little going on in Dubai in these months. That made it a perfect time for me to take my vacation to see what's been happening in the UK.

I've been to a string of restaurants. I dined at Deca, Nico Ladenis's new restaurant, and at Agnes with Fay Maschler, food critic of London's Evening Standard. It delivers what it sets out to, and I had a very good lunch. I also dined at the Square and the Fat Duck. Both restaurants hold two Michelin stars, and quite rightly so. I must say Heston Blumenthal is cooking some really amazing food. Well done to him for sticking to his guns. Nigel [Sutcliffe], the manager, was as good as ever. I'm also dining at J Sheekey this week, which is one of my favourite restaurants. Not just because my best friend [Tim Hughes] is the chef there, they just seem to get everything right. So I'm looking forward to that.

While I am away it's quite an exciting time at Hilton Dubai Creek, as we have a new general manager starting: Jan Monidiech, who has transferred from Japan. We are revamping the Glasshouse restaurant and he has some good ideas on how to improve Verre.

The Middle East is a lot different from Europe when it comes to how you treat your clientele. Here, they like to be pampered more, speak to the chef and all that sort of thing. Whereas, in London, people don't want too much fuss - just to be recognised, if a regular, eat and have a good evening.

We have just been approached to do the Dubai World Cup in 2003, which is the richest horse race in the world. We are going to have a Verre with Gordon Ramsay marquee serving restaurant food throughout the event.

Before I left Dubai, Verre was voted best restaurant by Time Out magazine, a great accolade.

I was having lunch in the Beach restaurant at the Royal Mirage hotel about a month ago and I couldn't quite believe how much they had built on Palm Island. For those of you who don't know, Palm Island is the single biggest man-made island ever. Apparently, it's visible from space, not that I'll be going up to look! I'll just sit at the Royal Mirage, having my Caesar salad on the beach.

Anyway, it's going to house lots of hotels, villas and everything else a resort can offer. So there are exciting times ahead for Dubai.

JASON ATHERTON is head chef of Verre, Gordon Ramsay at Dubai Creek, Dubai
Next diary from Jason Atherton: 19 September

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