I was lucky enough to experience The Scene, in Pier 7, Dubai Marina, before most, being invited along to the menu tasting by a very kind friend who clearly knows food is the way to my heart. We were thoroughly impressed with the food and the atmosphere then, so I have been wanting to go back for a while.
On Friday night we joined a friend and her family for dinner and the food was just as good as I remembered it! Although the service wasn't. Given the fact that it was a dry night last night (alcohol free night everywhere due to religious holidays) and the place was two thirds empty I was a little disappointed at the slow service and the time if took for our food to arrive.
Negatives aside The Scene definitely provides that classic gastropub English style food we all know and miss as expats from England! We had a mixture of starters to share and followed that with a variety of main dishes including the burger, the shepherds pie, lamb hotspot, classic fish and chips and sausage and mash. They have learnt from their mistakes during then menu tasting when they neglected to ask how we wanted the burger cooked, a big deal for the meat loving boyfriend who is quite specific about his Beef. I had veggie sausages and mash because I just wasn't in a meat mood and they were seriously delicious served with a creamy mustard mash.
Our plates were wiped clean by the end which shows exactly what we thought of the food. Obviously I left room for desert... It's the best bit after all!
The boyfriend declined to share with me but as soon as he saw the chocolate fondant pot with peanut butter and salted caramel ice cream land on our table in front of me he was regretting his choic and swiftly stole my spoon. That desert was the single best thing I have eaten all week. But I am a sucked for chocolate, peanut butter and salted caramel.
To washed it all down with a delicious mocktails called berry sling. I had tasted this as the menu tasting since they didn't have a liquor license yet so thought it was a safe option last night. I have heard great things about their cocktails too so that seems like a good excuse for another trip!
Last week I had my first Dubai spa experience and let me tell you, it was amazing. And thanks to my beautiful new Dubai buddy and her entertainer app, we got two 90 minute massages for the price of one; what better way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
We headed to the Angsana Spa at The Address Montgomerie in Emirates Hills. The super sleek door that slides open reveals a tranquil Asian inspired spa area and a wave of calm instantly washed over me upon stepping over the threshold.
A super refreshing ice cold berry water was waiting for us and we had 5 mins to soak up the soft lighting and warm and cosy decor. And then the relaxation began. We stepped inside a cosy little couples room and two fantastic massage therapists with their fragrant oils set to work soothing our muscles and massaging out our stress.
90 minutes of stretching and massaging later, neither of us were snoring but both of us were almost speechless, in a stress free state of relaxation. And we ended our time with a little more relaxation in the silent area (we were not very silent though) with ginger tea, dried fruits and water. The whole experience was amazing and the therapists at Angsana Spa were excellent. I would totally recommend the spa for its quality of service and ambience and would have no hesitation in revisiting (sooner rather than later preferably).
And the cost, well everyone says Dubai is expensive but even without the buy one get one free voucher I don't know anywhere in London you could get the same quality and length of massage for just £80!
I was standing in Zabeel Park at 5am on Friday morning, in the pitch black, feeling slightly lost and a little confused. Well it was my first market with Ripe and I was still a little nervous about the day that was soon to unfold in front of my eyes. I was even more confused by the speed at which the amazing Ripe boys put up hundreds of tents, still in darkness, across Zabeel Park. Those boys are simply amazing.
As the sun rose and light fell across the park, the place came alive with hundreds of vendors hustling through the gates ready and raring to get going. Everyone has been waiting all summer for the first Ripe Food & Craft Market and it was finally here. Three months of hard work for me was about to come to fruition and it was pretty amazing to watch it all come together. If you need a little backstory, check this out and read some of my words on the wonderful Little Majlis Blog.
Back to Friday though; the sun, as usual was beating down but the beautiful palms in Zabeel Park brought some much needed shade. And the soft breeze that washed over the park sporadically was welcomed by most, except me as it meant the demise of my beloved giant #ripemarke hashtag but I won't dwell on that since it is still somewhat of a sensitive issue for me.
Considering I was awake at 4am and in the park tile 3pm, the day flashed before my eyes. The amount of visitors that braved the heat was incredible and a true testament to the amazing journey Ripe has been on since the beautiful Becky, Ripe Founder, started out. The atmosphere was electric and it is hard to believe that your in the midst of Dubai; the Ripe Market is a combination of a foodie festival and an arts and craft market. I may be biased (all the thousands of visitors we get every week aren't) but it is probably the best way to spend your Friday morning in Dubai!
I have never learnt to drive and it has never really been a problem before nor something that I was too bothered about. But I will freely admit that the urge to drive is getting stronger by the day.
It isn't because living in Dubai is impossible without a car; far from it. Dubai is a seriously easy city to navigate without a car, but for my own satisfaction, learning to drive is high up on my priority list for 2015.
There are a lot of transportation options in Dubai whether you want to take a taxi, a bus or the metro, each option is affordable and accessible and can happily and comfortably get you from a to b. And sometimes those options are a much better idea than jumping in your car because the traffic in Dubai can get a little ridiculous at times.
October is here and stuff is about to get crazy. Life has ramped up a notch lately both in work and out of work and while I am loving every minute of this jam packed life we are living, I feel a little bit out of breath with it all.
There are so many things to do and see in Dubai and after a few months of settling in, I feel like it is time to start enjoying this city and country for that matter. We have been frequenting new bars, different restaurants and indulging [maybe] a little too much.
We have been making new friends and time is now shared which is brilliant; one of the most important things on my list for moving to Dubai was to settle in, meet people and make friends. When you move to a new country, finding your feet and finding people who share your likes, dislikes, interests and people you "click" with is very important. Having just a couple of people who you can call upon, share moments with and talk to when those tough days arise, is vital. And having just a few people to call friends will keep you sane when those tough moments set in.
Work is ramping up a notch too. In just a few days, The Ripe Food & Craft Market launches in it's brand new home in Zabeel Park and months of hard work for the whole Ripe team, will come to fruition. To be part of this is ridiculously exciting and rather stressful for me in equal measure. To be part of the team who is responsible for the UAE's favourite farmers market carries with it a little bit of pressure and I am certainly feeling that.
But I know all the hard work and the awfully early start next Friday, as we run around in Zabeel Park in the dark in the early hours of the morning, doing our first real live market set-up, will be worth it.
Needless to say my body is feeling the pain and my brain is constantly buzzing. October please be good to me.
Starting my Friday standing at a petrol station in Tecom at 7.30am was not exactly what I had in mind after a very busy week at work. But taking every opportunity to explore this city and country is very important so when the alarm went off at an unearthly hour, we were up and out the door.
The activity for the day....kayaking! Yeh I know I am not really a watersports kinda of girl, but a little road trip across the country and the thought of learning a new skill was enough to let me leave all my cares behind. We started early because we were heading to the other side of the country, Ras Al Khaimah to be precise to a place called Barasti Sailing Club in Al Jeer, right on the border with Oman.
It's a fantastic place down there which is going to get even better in the coming weeks as they add more facilities. We were invited down by our friends sister, who is a very clever lady, a marine biologist to be precise, to have a little kayaking lesson and meet some of the creatures that call this place their home.
I am not going to lie, driving through what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, in convoy with three other cars, not exactly knowing where we going, we were a little dubious about our final destination.
Set just on the Oman border, with the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, this place is peaceful, low key and stark contrast to the hustle and bustle and high-rise city we left behind. And it was perfect. To be out of the city for the first time in 3 months was just what we needed and despite the long drive, it was worth it.
Bobbing around in a kayak has never been my idea of a fun morning and I am not the typical sporty type so I was rather hesitant about jumping into a solo kayak and had visions of me capsizing within a few moments. But I took to it like a duck to water and got the hang of it after a few minutes. And dare I say it, I enjoyed it! We stayed within the confines of the marina and didnt head out into the sea, mainly because out of the group 12 of us, several were not confident with their abilities. But it was a great morning and I definitely think my body received a much needed workout.
I will reluctantly admit that I was wrong about kayaking. Being outside and taking full advantage of the opportunities this place gives us was great. These are the moments when being an expat pays of; spending your Friday morning out in the sunshine, doing new activities with new friends makes up for the sacrifices. Oh and speaking of new friends, we made one. Meet clyde, the bearded dragon.
If you're looking for tasty Thai food in Dubai, that wont break your bank balance, Smilling BKK in Al Wasl Plaza, Al Safa is the place to go. Don't ask about the name because I really don't know but I was taken here by my lovely friends and by the time my plate was clear I didn't want to leave.
It is a humble setting, with a very casual vibe and randomly decorated, with odd graphics on the wall and tons of little colourful lampshades handing from the ceiling, giving you a whole host of things to look at other than the menu. It is dark and eclectic and it feels almost like your in someones living room, which I love.
But you should really get back to the menu. Which is huge and a little overwhelming for a first timer, I will admit, but once you get down into the depths of it, you will be fine. And everything that arrived at our table was amazing and packed full of delicious flavour, so I am certain whatever you order, your taste-buds will be happy.
We scanned the menu for several minutes. And then a few minutes more, before shooting our toy gun into the air (given to us by the waitress on arrival) and in a second, a waitress appeared. This is how you let the staff know you're ready to order and I think it is a pretty genius idea. Saves those awkward moments with staff hovering around and you feeling rushed to make a decision. And there is nothing I hate more than being rushed when it comes to food choices.
Anyway, we ordered the Big Smiling Sample Set to share, with its crispy bags of gold (dumpling type things) veggie spring rolls, fishcakes and prawn crackers, the Tom Yumm soup, the Kaeng Panang which was a delicious peanut curry, another thai curry, jasmine rice and another rice variety crammed with delicious flavour that I cant remember what it was now.
And everything was phenomenal. They ask you how spicy you want your dishes when you order, 10%, 30%, 80%, you pick, which is another thing I like; because I love a little kick of heat and flavour, but don't want my head blown off. The soup was delicious, with a generous helping of spice and shrimp and the peanut chicken curry was nutty and creamy, with perfectly cooked, delicately spicy chicken.
The quality of food and service in the place would warrant a high price tag, but that's not the case. This is delicious, well made food, at reasonable prices in the heart of Dubai. Which kinda proves my point that you don't have to spend a ton of cash to eat well or live well in Dubai, you just have to pick your places wisely. If your in Dubai and craving Thai food, Smiling BKK is definitely the place to go!
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