• 25Jan

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    Bistro Madeleine

    Here we go again! A restaurant that gets so much right but fails heavily in one section which taints the whole experience.

    This was our second visit to Bistro Madeleine in as many weeks which as you may expect from the name offers French cuisine . Our first visit my wife enjoyed more than myself as I had to excuse myself from the table before the end of the meal but never thought that it was anything to do with the restaurant. I wont go into detail!

    I had ordered a fish dish and it tasted OK. During the meal a table behind ours had reason to complain about their meals and the staff were very apologetic and wanted to put things right, but for whatever reason the customer did not want anything else.

    We passed off these incidents as unfortunate events but not enough to put us off trying again –  as we have just done.

    Well this time we turned up for a very early evening meal about about 6 o’clock and as you might expect we were the only ones in the restaurant. We were greeted by a lovely lady, Joelle I think her name was and she offered us the pick of the tables in the restaurant – good start.

    We ordered drinks and without giving a thought to our previous experience my wife ordered duck and I gave the fish of the day a try. Well the drinks turned up and a short time afterwards the meals arrived. As they were placed on the table all looked fine – as ever never judge the preverbial book! Taking my first cut the fish was warm but raw! How! How! How! can only two guests in the whole restaurant get an uncooked meal served at the table. Staff must have out numbered us by five to one.

    Once again the lovely smiling happy waitress comes over and I explain that the food is not cooked. She then asks if I want anything else in replacement, which is the right thing to do, but by this time the penny had dropped, the run to the loo, the table behind us and now raw food. Apologies for being a bit slow but the chef has a problem with cooking food which is something rather career limiting if you want to run a kitchen of a restaurant. Rather bizarrely all the time we were discussing raw fish with the waitress the chef with his big white hat and pressed white linens was marching around the restaurant proud as a peacock. Bit of advice Mr Chef go back into the kitchen get yourself a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cook book and learn how to prepare and cook fish.

    I genuinely don’t go looking for this sort of thing just to blog and make a nuisance of myself but dining out with friends or family is a ceremony that is dependent upon a seamless series of mutually dependent skill sets that seek to meet or exceed a customers expectation. You Chef, let your team down.


    Would we go back? No, which is a great disappointment as the staff front of house are delightful and the setting is very comfortable. We just don’t want to have another culinary disappointment.


    • Give the chef some support to understand what is going wrong in the kitchen
    • Give the staff some feedback that they can relay to customers regarding the feedback forms that are touted at the end of the meal
    • If the chef is going to strut his stuff in the restaurant then get him to engage with the customers – I could give him some feedback
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  • 10Jan

    Rivington Grill

    This is my first blog in the Middle East and what better way to kick off with a visit to a ‘British Theme’ restaurant.

    Rivington Grill is set in the Old Town district overlooking the lakes, soon to be and under the awesome sight of The Burj. There is an incredible amount of construction going on all around the restaurant which is totally out of the control of Rivington Grill, but boy is it noisy!

    We went to this restaurant because we were on a walk about around the Old Town the day before looking for apartments to rent as we are going to be living out here for a few years. We stumbled across what we understand was a manager outside the restaurant who was an Iraqi and a charming chap. After some discussion he persuaded that we should try out the place as a lot of work and effort had been put in to opening up this new restaurant. We did just that the following day, Oh dear!

    The place as you would expect being brand new is spotlessly clean with chefs working behind counters that are in full view of the customers. Good start. Going through to the restaurant we were amazed at how many staff there were and not many of them British – which is not a criticism.
    Despite the noise outside from the building works we thought we would enjoy some alfresco dining as this is the only time of year you can do this without the weather being too hot.

    As a table was not ready outside we were asked to sit at the bar whilst the table was made ready, right move. At the bar we ordered a drink and in no time at all the table was ready. Making our way to the table the waiter took the drinks to the table which again you don’t get very often in the UK, right move again. Taking our seats my wife was given the wine menu as she was drinking and I could not as I was driving and there is zero alcohol tolerance when driving out here with a straight to jail policy if caught! Wow the price of quite ordinary wines are £40 – £120 a bottle or for the cheapest wine by the glass is £6ish.

    Then came the menu well this is not British food as you would know it. Its British named food that has a twist that from what we ordered failed to impress. Because we were unsure about the place in terms of culinary excellence we thought we would play safe and start off slowly, that turned out to be a good move. My wife ordered a ‘Welsh rarebit’ which had flaked smoked haddock in it on what looked like a piece of Mothers Pride – the latter I suppose was British! This was a single slice of bread served on an awful off white/brown 1960’s chunky style crockery and this was about £9ish – it looked very sad indeed. As for the taste well it was pastey, thick and heavy, it was not good.

    As for me well I ordered fish pie and this came out in the same awful style crockery and looked like it had been left under the grill too long. The sauce was tastey and there were some healthy chunks of fish. As for the size well for a fish pie that cost £20ish you would have thought you would get a small garnish of vegetables and something more than a small breakfast bowl of pie – you don’t and its mean!

    We didn’t have any desert as the main meal took an age to arrive despite it only being a slice of fancy cheese on toast and tiny fish pie.

    Now for the staff. You know a place is new when all the staff are super super super friendly and this is over bearing. From an outsider looking in there is considerable overlap with regard to duties and this manifests it self into a muddle. It is so obvious that everyone is trying really hard and there now needs to be a rethink about how in your face this needs to be. When we first walked in on the first day just to see what the place had to offer all the staff were lined up along the service counter and it was like everyone had come out to say hello – not very British thats more American! So to prove how silly this was I walked down the line and saluted everybody – you have to break it up somehow!


    Would we go back? Not at those prices as the quality is not sufficient to raise the value (Value is proportional to the quality divided by the cost). The staff are willing and eager but need shaping and training to understand how to be proficient and not so over bearing. As for the food portions they are mean, slow to come to the table, and presented on some pretty awful lack luster china.


    • White china all the time – painters don’t start with a dirty canvas
    • Give the staff some boundaries to curb their eagerness
    • Provide some vegetables with the main meals – they are the cheapest things to provide
    • Sort the wine list out – even for Dubai its not right
    • Its difficult to make cheese on toast look good but a garnish would not be a bad start
    • Don’t charge top prices when world war three is taking place at the end of your terrace