Reif Othman invites you to play
With a name like Play, you would think it is a space where you can rock up in hipster clothing and the vibe is annoyingly boisterous. Far from what the name suggests, this is a sophisticated enclave set in opulent surroundings that invites upscale troupes. Play Restaurant and Lounge is a new concept in Dubai, led by Zuma's former executive chef, Reif Othman. The restaurant nestled on the 36th floor of the plush H Hotel offers a Mediterranean and Asian Dining concept.
If first impression is anything to go by, then they have won me over with their visual feast of design and aesthetics; marble flooring, brass walls, stunning statement chandeliers studded with black and gold Swarovski crystals and pearls. This is a breath-taking lavish space boasting a state of the art lounge, an elevated private dining area, a glamorous cocktail bar and stunning views of the city's skyline.
When visiting a restaurant where the kitchen is led by an industry big name it is only natural to expect the chef lives up to the reputation that precedes him. However i keep in mind that new restaurants will always have some kinks to work out and when you are aiming for something iconic it does not unfold instantly. The staff here are as friendly as they are good-looking. It was an impressive sight to see the restaurant manager visit every table and indulge in small talk with guests.
We began our culinary experience with an inventive signature cocktail, presented in what seemed like a gold carafe (Yes indeed! you pay a good price for good looks, AED 350) and tasted just right, which hits the nail squarely on the head. The low point however was that our waitress could not describe what was in the cocktail and the celebrated drink did not feature on the cocktail list but came highly recommended by our persuasive server. We overlook this as her charm outweighs her lack of knowledge. The menu has sprinkles of genius, enough to hold your attention .The orders arrive as soon as they are ready and the restaurant promotes a sharing concept. The pita surprise topped with Kobe Carpaccio slices and stuffed with truffle creamed butter were a luscious melt-in-your-mouth delight-A true winner! The Sushi's were average and the Duck Gyoza with an overpowering sweet flavor missed the mark. The Fish in a bag which was a red snapper served with olives and crispy quinoa cooked to perfection was flavorful enough without overpowering the freshness of the fish. The tenderloin with black pepper sauce paired with leek relish, all of which are hearty and presented craftily.
The hope is with Chef Othman flexing his culinary muscles and the menu set to evolve in the future complementing the ornate decor of the dining space, PLAY will rest on it's laurels and reputation.
Photographed by Samuel Joy for SignetRing