Armani Ristorante, Dubai. Armani Hotel’s signature restaurant in Burj Khalifa is a stylish treat for the senses
Put simply, this restaurant is exquisite. That may come as no surprise when you consider that it is the Armani Hotel’s signature restaurant, nestled on the ground floor of the Burj Khalifa with stunning views of the Dubai Fountains.On top of that, the interiors are spectacular – ambient lighting, comfortable yet stylish leather booths and an open kitchen whose smells and activity are screened off behind smooth glass creating the impression of absolute calm and order.
However, the setting and kudos of dining in the tallest building in the world pales in comparison to the experience of tasting such deeply flavoured and delicately presented food as that served up at Armani/Ristorante – and that is really saying something. On the evening of our visit, we opt for the Il Contemporaneo degustation menu, a four-course tasting menu that is a lighter alternative to the heady six-course truffle menu also on offer. Much to the disappointment of head chef Alessandro Salvatico, we explain that the earthy aroma of truffles – for which it is peak season at the time of our visit – is a little too rich for our tastebuds to handle in more than one dish.
We do not regret our choice, for the Il Contemporaneo turns out to be a perfect showcase of Ristorante’s Italian cuisine. The first course comprises thin slices of marinated raw amberjack (a white fish from the Atlantic and Pacific), with trimmings of beetroot, lime and olives, and a surprising scoop of lemon and thyme sorbet that beautifully sets off the citrus notes of this fresh and flavoursome dish.
Next, our waiter brings us a fregola mantecata, a type of Sardinian pasta that resembles ‘giant’ couscous balls. The pasta is tossed in a creamy carrot, lemongrass and ginger sauce and served with huge, juicy langoustines that utterly melt in your mouth.Salvatico surprises us by revealing that the ginger sauce contains absolutely no cream, which is why it is not as filling as you might expect. Instead, the carrots and other vegetables are slow cooked in a little butter, and their juices mingle to form the sauce.
After a short pause, we try a dish of glazed duck breast with spices, carrots and kumquat jam. The meat is so succulent that we could eat the dish all over again, while the kumquats add a pleasing tanginess to a dish that could otherwise be quite dense.
By this point, we are rapidly becoming full, but we refuse to miss out on the stunning dessert. We are served Italian tubes of crispy pastry, known as cannoli, filled with delicate ricotta lemon mousse and citrus marmalade, and served with nuggets of grapefruit jelly and orange blossom ice cream. In this dish, the artistic presentation is so impressive that we hardly want to ruin it by eating it, but that feeling lasts barely a second and we are rewarded with a delicious combination of flavours and textures that strike the perfect balance between bitter and sweet, crunchy and creamy.
Armani/Ristorante is the sort of restaurant where your table manners become impeccable and you eat extremely slowly and carefully to better absorb each mouthful. The only downside to our evening was a live vocalist whose singing was a little too harsh and loud for the environment. Thankfully, this did not detract from our enjoyment of the place. This is an occasion restaurant – so if you are lucky enough to go, enjoy every minute and stay until the very end, soaking up your surroundings.