Mouthwatering Ohama Beef is the start at this Midwest American-style eatery, with Executive Chef Adam Tracey choosing locally whenever he can.
It’s easy to get jaded in Dubai, with so many places to dine and so few of them rising to a level that deserves to be talked about.
That’s why Fire Lake Grillhouse & Cocktail Bar, one of those restaurants that sneaks up on you and then delivers a delicious wallop, was such a lovely surprise.
The interior and patio of this restaurant, which is located at the new Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront, features a minimalist decor: contrasting wood, neutrals, funky artwork and trendy hanging lamps over the bar. There is an expansive patio, with an assortment of lounge-style tables and a boast-worthy view of the Burj Khalifa.
Fire Lake is tied up with Radisson Blu hotels in Minneapolis, at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and in Leeds in the UK. Snobbily considering the Mall of the America link and wrongly suspecting that the food might match the unassuming decor, we were very soon set straight by our next-level appetisers, and all the dishes that would follow.
The menu is focused on hearty food from the American midwest: prime beef flown in from Omaha, seafood sourced locally, where possible, and complex vegetarian side dishes worthy of their own plate, as well as vegetarian mains including a thick cauliflower steak.
For one of our starters we chose the grilled padron peppers (Dh56), served with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, alongside a homemade sriracha yoghurt dip. These sweet, slightly hot peppers, sourced from A Coruña, Galicia, northwestern Spain, are a bit of a find on a local menu, and they were a light, gently spicy way into our meal.
The “proper caesar” salad (Dh45) was aptly named: with baby romaine leaves, left untorn, just a hint of salty anchovy, delicately buttered croutons and a dressing that struck the necessary, delicate balance between lemon and parmesan. It is not just a proper caesar, but a truly great one, worthy of a return visit on its own.
For our mains we went all in, splitting the flame-grilled, head-on jumbo prawns from Vietnam (Dh150) and the 650 gram bone-in rib eye (Dh395).
The jumbo prawns, garnished in a grilled green onion, were tasty and exactly as promised, seasoned with a nod to the region with sumac, as well as garlic and sea salt. And although rarely when a tasty prawn dish is in front of me can my head be turned, in all honesty it took just one bite of that spectacular rib eye to all but lose focus. I’ve long heard about the merits of greater Omaha prime beef, and I can understand why Fire Lake insists on flying it in. This rib eye was at least an inch thick if not more, juicy, tender and deliciously marbled, the homemade mushroom salt seasoning a perfect accent.
The sides deserve attention too: our fried brussels sprouts (Dh25) were like nothing I’ve tasted before, and no wonder, as they were seasoned with hazelnut dukkah and mint. The charred cauliflower was served in a creamy, tahini-feta puree, seasoned with coriander and topped with crispy lemon slices, which had been dipped in rice flour, then fried.
We could barely think about desserts, but we gamely soldiered on, intrigued by the promise of a chic twist on that old North American campfire favourite S’mores (Dh45), which are essentially graham crackers, a piece of chocolate and a marshmallow that has been heated from the end of a stick over an open fire.
For me a restaurant sets itself apart when this much time and effort is taken with dessert: the crackers are homemade, from a dough incorporating unsalted butter, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, milk and honey, chilled overnight and baked the next day. The vanilla-flavoured marshmallows lent a carmelised flavour; the chocolate soft and sweet. They were amazing. We could only manage a took a few bites of the churros (Dh40) served with dark chocolate sauce, which were offered as a replacement for the warm, sugared doughnuts on the menu, but they were tasty too.
In addition to the entire meal, the service at Fire Lake was a stellar, with friendly helpful staff up for a chat, to offer information on the menu, from the kitchen through to the patio.
Doing Some Good
Adam Tracey – the new Executive Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront
Can you describe what menu experience you wanted to create for your customers?
The culture and style of the food is deeply rooted in North America but with touches that are closer to home. We have made use of regional flavours where possible, so expect to see lots of smoked and flame-grilled dishes coupled with locally inspired ingredients such as sumac, coriander, chickpeas and yoghurt.
Can you tell us how you source the food you serve?
Everything is available here now and we haven’t really struggled in terms of sourcing, and that’s a real positive for the UAE. The cost of produce is always a challenge and we, of course, want to have the best quality ingredients on our plates and to be able to sell dishes at a competitive price.
Is organic/sustainable a priority?
While we are not shouting about organic products, a large selection of the fruit and vegetables we are using such as avocados, cauliflower, kale and potatoes are organic. From a sustainable point of view, we don’t use anything that isn’t ethically farmed or that we can’t trace back to source. We ensure we only use fish from sustainable sources, buy locally where possible.
What have some of the trickiest menu items been and how have you dealt
Being a restaurant that focuses on American cuisine, we naturally have to import some of the key products from the US. The steaks that we serve are Greater Omaha Prime beef, and this took some time with our supplier to get the specifications, cuts and weights right and to ensure that supply and shelf life fitted with our requirements. We are proud that we have the best beef we can on the menu and that we have worked hard to ensure we partner with the best suppliers, both from a quality and ethical point of view.