Ooh la la!

When Team TMN discovered that Michelin-starred chef Frederic Vardon would be opening his first international restaurant in Dubai, we couldn’t wait to find out whether the food matched the creator’s impressive reputation…

What: La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge

Where: Raffles Hotel, Dubai

When: Open for dinner every day between 7pm and 2am

The promise: “Inspired by Parisian luxury brasseries, La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge brings French elegance and accessible haute cuisine to the centre of Dubai.”

Did it deliver? Upon entering La Résidence Restaurant & Lounge, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’d stumbled upon an English stately home – with its Chesterfield-style furniture, paneled walls and warmly lit chandeliers, all the space lacked was some stuffed animals and genteel men and women sipping tea. It was only upon noticing the quirky and distinctly French artwork and detailing that Team TMN realised we had entered a luxe French bistro. Following a warm welcome from our hostess, we were quickly led to our table, which was pleasantly intimate, without being cut off from the rest of the bustling restaurant. The high ceilings and warm atmosphere, while on paper seem to be at odds with each other, meant that La Résidence provided an atmosphere that was cosy and rich, without being imposing or overly fussy – in total contrast to the 40-degree heat and shimmering pyramids outside.

La Résidence is a restaurant built on the reputation of Frédéric Vardon and it is easy to see his influence in all of the food we were presented with – beginning with an amuse bouche taster of miniature cheese soufflés, uniquely disguised as small spheres. The starters we sampled: a green pea soup, and soft-boiled egg ‘royale-style’, were both utterly delectable. The green pea soup was served chilled, offering a unique tasting experience which further enhanced its velvety texture, while the egg – though totally unrecognisable as an egg, beautifully reconstructed as a foamy mass – was deliciously rich thanks to the inspired mushroom addition, a pleasant surprise for a vegetable-based course.

For mains, team TMN chose a beef tenderloin and Dublin bay prawn ravioli. The beef tenderloin stood out as an expertly cooked and flavourful dish presented in a way that we had never seen before. Sliced elegantly, it appeared as two pieces of meat and truly melted in the mouth, while the homemade ravioli – with its generous filling and wonderful sauce – was another winner with us. Sides of seasonal vegetables and French beans were the perfect accompaniment.

Although completely full, we miraculously managed a little room to sample La Residence’s signature dessert of crêpes suzette. Rolled into small straw-like tubes, the paper-thin pancakes were utterly delicious. A panna cotta-like topping, and thin strips of candied orange peel balanced the sweet and citrusy flavors permeating the crepes, making the dessert a truly decadent and resplendently French way to end our meal!

The Verdict: La Résidence Restaurant and Lounge is a charming venue. It serves food that is both beautifully presented as well as truly delicious in a setting of genial ambience and warmth. As the first international venture from Frédéric Vardon, this restaurant definitely reflects his attention to detail and unique visions of French cuisine. Team TMN would highly recommend the venue as a place for a celebratory dinner, romantic date or simply a classy evening out.

A Cut above

Team TMN couldn’t wait to discover the latest in refined brunch offerings, from one of Dubai’s most decadent restaurants…

What: Friday Brunch at CUT

Where: CUT by Wolfgang Puck, The Address Downtown Dubai

When: Every Friday from 12pm – 4pm

The promise: “At the pinnacle of the fine dining experience, CUT by Wolfgang Puck invites visitors to indulge in an impeccable brunch that is beyond fulfilling. CUT offers an elegant dining experience with a menu that will make you crave more.”

Did it deliver? CUT by Wolfgang Puck has long been on the to-visit list here at TMN. Helmed by famed Austrian-American Chef (pronounced ‘pook’), the Dubai outlet is the latest addition to a family of world-renowned restaurants famed for their excellent steaks.

With enormous bay windows offering world-class views of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai fountains, the restaurant itself is quite simply stunning. Team TMN loved the light and airy feel of the space, with its high ceilings and clean décor, and the restaurant was intimate enough for a good catch-up without feeling stuffy or cramped.

Opting for a table with a window view, we took our seats, and were made to feel thoroughly welcome. Promptly presented with a basket of delicious home-baked breakfast breads and croissants, a create-your-own Bloody Mary cart was also wheeled before us. As conversation (and cocktails) flowed, food began to arrive at our table – we began with canapé-sized portions of steak and miniature grilled cheese sandwiches, and both were devoured keenly, with the bite-sized steak acting as a tantalising glimpse of the mains to come.

CUT completely avoids the eternally disappointing buffet-for-brunch concept, and offers a selection of starters delivered to the table in a steady trickle, before one main course per person is selected from an a-la-carte menu. This meant that the quality of the food remained exceptionally high and we managed to try a little bit of everything, including some of the restaurants signature dishes – highlights from the starters we sampled included smoked salmon blinis, a wonderfully light scallop carpaccio, and an expertly prepared, utterly delicious steak tartare. By the time it came to order mains, team TMN were already feeling thoroughly spoilt by both the decadent food and excellent drinks list.

Obviously, going to a steakhouse for brunch meant only one thing when it came to mains: steak! Although we were provided with a surprisingly varied menu of mains, including incredibly tempting fish and vegetarian options, team TMN couldn’t pass up the opportunity to unleash our inner carnivores and we all ordered the prime rib! Our mains arrived, tender and cooked to perfection, with a selection of equally delicious sides – perfectly crisp French fries, well-dressed salad and a selection of sautéed greens.

Following our mammoth mains we requested a short break to enjoy the terrace and its stunning views, cocktails in hand, before heading back inside where we were presented with a trio of deserts and coffees to round off the meal. The blueberry cheesecake and rhubarb pancake were both light and fruity, but the standout of the trio was a chocolate egg which, when covered in a light sauce, melted away to reveal a delicious fondant dessert – the added touch of drama in its presentation, and its luxurious taste making this the perfect ending to such a refined Friday brunch.

The Verdict: CUT is not the liveliest place for brunch in Dubai, so if you’re looking for a debauched Friday afternoon, this is not the place for you. Having said that, the wonderful setting and variation in dining space – with small, romantic nooks as well as the large, open tables – does make this the ideal place for couples and groups alike to be social/celebrate an occasion. The excellent quality of the food alone makes this a brunch worth visiting, particularly for carnivore-enthusiasts, and the free-flowing beverages are at a level that is superior to many brunches Dubai has to offer. Packages start from AED290 for soft drinks and go up to AED650 for premium-selected beverages. While this isn’t cheap, when you consider that the average dinner at CUT without alcohol is around AED1,000, it is excellent value.

The Gourmet hub of Dubs

When Team TMN stumbled across a certain venue in the heart of Media City promising home-style gourmet grub at purse friendly prices, we were powerless to resist…

What: 1762 The Gourmet Deli Co.

Where: OMD Building, Dubai Media City, Dubai

When: Sunday-Thursday, 7.30am-6pm

The promise: “You will find our deli shops rustic, warm and homely; somewhere you know you can escape to when you get a moment to pop in and relax over some good food & freshly made brew”

Nestled in the heart of one of Dubai’s busiest business hubs, 1762 is only a stones throw away from most of Dubai’s media companies. A seamless blend of two settings – one, a cosy indoors with exposed brickwork and intimate tables, the other a relaxing, open-aired, conservatory-style room (which avoids the oppressive summer heat with a retractable roof, that closes to create one large, indoor space). Making the most of the last great weather of the season, we opted for the conservatory. Surrounded by greenery and the low-rise buildings of Media City with a glass of fresh pink lemonade in hand, you could easily imagine that you were in New York or London.

Having passed the deli counter as we walked in, tummies were definitely rumbling as we got settled – seeing the food presented in such a tantalising way was a real feast for the eyes. We left our ordering in the capable hands of the venue’s Outlet Manager, Charlotte who decided to showcase some of 1762’s more popular dishes from the extensive menu of delicious-looking deli food.

We began with 1762’s signature dish, traditional, home-cooked roast beef wrapped in a delicious Yorkshire pudding; truly comfort food at its finest! Who knew a Yorkshire pudding could be used instead of humble wrap-bread? Another stand-out dish was the chicken and leek pie – a traditional recipe which managed to provide the perfect blend of chicken, leeks and cream. In contrast to the comforting, carb-laden traditional foods sampled, was the wonderfully light ginger-lime salmon nori roll, which triumphed as team TMN’s favourite dish on the menu. On top of all these mains, we also sampled a selection of the deli counter’s eight salads – freshly prepared daily.

Even filled to the brim, we were informed that we simply had to sample some of the desserts, and who were we to argue? Happy to hang around, we noticed just how busy 1762 gets. Having arrived bang-on midday, there was a steady influx of human traffic, with the queue edging outside – a sign of success if ever there was one.

After sampling the decadent millionaire’s shortbread and twix brownies and the lighter, but equally delectable Tunisian orange cake slices, we finally left, stomachs groaning and in unanimous agreement of a lunch hour well spent.

The verdict : This is definitely a venue worth getting out of the office for, whether for lunch or just a quick bite to go. 1762 caters perfectly to Dubai’s professional crowd. With affordable prices and excellent-quality food, 1762’s three venues (also in DIFC and The Galleries, Jebel Ali) have definitely found their niche. Our only critique is that their opening times are reflective of business hours, and we would love to get a hold of the menu for dinner and brunch! While this may be a possibility at some point, for now at least, it’s remaining the business community’s little secret!

Beauty is more than paint deep

An SUV seems to be a pre-requisite for expat life in Dubai, but finding one that not only looks the part, but comes with all the mod-cons necessary for urban everyday life seems to be almost impossible. Until Team TMN discovered Lexus’ latest luxury compact offering that is…

What: The Lexus NX F Sport 

Where: Showrooms across the Middle East

When: Launched February 2015

The promise: “The Lexus NX F Sport combines design, intuitive technology and a potent turbo drive engine to take on whatever urban adventure comes your way”

Did it deliver? Driving in the UAE can be a stressful experience, especially at rush hour on the infamous Sheikh Zayed Road. So when we heard the tech wizards at Lexus had created the new NX F Sport’s four door compact SUV with a two-litre turbo engine, 235 brake horsepower, four-cylinder engine and some fancy new gadgets to make our driving experience more enjoyable, we just had to check it out.

The F Sport has a futuristic and aerodynamic look, with curves in all the right places and a body that will certainly turn heads. The old saying could go, ‘beauty is only paint deep’, but this compact crossover has a beautiful interior to match that’s both practical and slick. The hand-stitched leather seats have built-in air conditioning in the headrest and base for those extra hot days, with heating elements for when it gets cooler.

Just hit the NX F’s ignition button and you’re automatically maneuvered into one of three pre-sets for your preferred driving position. The smart-steering wheel allows you to effortlessly control the CD, radio or Aux and talk hands free via the built in blue-tooth. Some dashboards can be guilty of being over-complicated, but Lexus have combined practicality and style in order to produce easy to navigate cockpit controls and functionality. The built-in computer can take a bit of time to work out but, after a little time and patience, becomes as user-friendly as the rest of the car.

The Lane Departure Alert (LDA), with steering control, warns the driver with a buzzer and on a multi-information display if it judges that the vehicle is about to cross the lane markings without using turn signals. Blind spot sensors in the wing mirror are incredibly helpful, as they flash amber when other vehicles are sneaking up on you. The ‘Heads-Up’ feature is also a nice touch, and means you can keep your eyes on the road because vital information like speed and navigation are projected onto your lower windscreen. This car even tells you when your tires need a top-up!

State of the art reversing technology makes the trickiest of car-parking spaces an absolute piece of cake, and there’s plenty of boot space for the weekly big shop, or round of golf, and the rear seats fold almost flat so it’s even easy to throw the bikes in! Luckily team TMN didn’t need to experience the airbags, but we’re assured they are there and ready for action if called upon.

The Lexus NX F Sport is a very smart and intuitive car, with dynamic radar cruise control to automatically match your speed with the vehicles around you. The pre-crash safety system will automatically tighten your seatbelt if an impact is imminent, making the vehicle extra-safe, and with boundless energy thanks to the 2-litre turbo engine it’s also eco-friendly. Multiple USB ports to charge mobiles and even a wireless tray compatible with numerous devices make the car functional and perfect for those of us who are constantly on-the-go.

The Verdict:  In a world of smart phones and predictive text, Lexus have produced a compact SUV to match our lively and hectic lifestyles. With prices starting from AED 160,000 for the regular model and AED 180,000 for the F Sport model, they are both luxurious but affordable, effortless and fun.

Gone in (hopefully) 60 minutes

Always keen to partake in a little investigative work, Team TMN metaphorically donned the detective caps to go play Sherlock in a fun new adventure game gripping Dubai… 

What: Escape Quest

Where: HDS Business Tower, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai

When: Seven days a week, 10am-11pm

The promise: “Forget Google! Forget Wikipedia! It’s a race against time and you have 60 minutes. Full of twists and turns, this is a real life brain teaser, a test of brainpower and a test of willpower”

Did it deliver? “You have 60 minutes and the clock is ticking. You must find the clues, solve the puzzles and crack the codes which will ultimately lead to your escape…” were the words that rung out as we dared to enter the Escape Quest headquarters on the 20th floor of a standard JLT skyscraper. Apart from our cryptic greeting, there wasn’t a whole lot to go on, which was all part of the fun and definitely part of the challenge. The one thing that we could be certain of was being locked in a room, with the only way of escape by finding seemingly random clues, solving unseen puzzles and cracking inexplicable codes… in an hour.

Even with the combined brainpower of Team TMN, we were feeling the pressure.

Led into the room channeling everything we’ve learnt from Benedict Cumberbatch, we knew that there was much more to the room than an obvious affinity for all things Africa. After being made aware of the bell, which could be rung at any stage in the hour for a clue, all energy went into working on team strategy – communication and combined effort cannot be overstated in a game like this. Running around like headless chickens at times with a mind twist at every corner, time crept up and we suddenly had eight minutes left before we succumbed to asking for our first clue. Things that had no meaning eventually began to make sense and the excitement (and tension) became palpable, as we got closer to the escape. Working right to the end, we made it out of the room with barely 30 seconds to spare – not sure whether we were more proud of completing the game or more relieved that we had managed to uphold the TMN name!

The verdict: Whether with family, friends or colleagues, if you can round up a group of up to five then Escape Quest is something that has to be experienced. Incredibly clever and a challenge without being frustrating, it’s a great way to relieve the stresses of the day by forcing you to refocus your energy. While it’s certainly not a walk in the park, don’t be fooled into overthinking it either – there’s a beauty in the balance of complexity and simplicity that’s achieved. There’s only one quest available at the moment, which means you can only try this out once; but with a new one set to launch in the next couple of months, it will be a welcome opportunity to get our detective caps on again!

Oh boy, Oberoi

Media professionals in the UAE certainly take the ‘work hard, play harder’ mantra to heart, with little or no time in between all the deadlines, meetings and events for a bit of me-time. But when we were promised rejuvenation in just an hour, Team TMN simply had to squeeze the time in…

What:  Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial

Where: The Oberoi Spa, The Oberoi, Business Bay, Dubai

When: Every day from 9am – midnight

The promise: “We will take your skin on a journey of total renewal. This facial experience is tailored to your skin’s needs and is enhanced with the Sodashi Facial Massage. The luxurious Sodashi Plant Esss needs ence Synergies will leave your skin revitalised and fresh”

Did it deliver? Tucked away on the third floor of The Oberoi hotel, we felt totally separated from the city’s chaos as we entered the peaceful calm of the reception.  Welcomed by the delightful front desk, no time was wasted as we were led to the private changing room, complete with a steam shower and complimentary products, which adjoined the treatment room – think hotel suite, spa style.

Donning white fluffy towels, the treatment began with adjusting the massage bed to suit personal preference, which was a great touch if you suffer from any back troubles. While advertised as a facial, the experience proved to be much more than that as our therapist Ruma put her skills to work, beginning with a decadent hot towel foot wrap. This combined with the intoxicating oils that Ruma held over to gently inhale left you entirely relaxed.

Eagerly anticipating the effects of the reputed Australian skincare brand, the treatment began with an aromatic warm facial compress, which left the skin feeling tingly and soft, as well as lightly exfoliated.  A light yet velvety facemask followed, and the accompanying Sodashi Facial Massage achieved new heights of luxury – the treatment really made the most of every minute. Topping it all off with a head massage, the hour was over before we knew it. Coming back to reality with a cup of herbal ginger tea, it was much more than just our face that felt revitalised.

The verdict: If you have a spare hour and you’re looking for a bit of me-time, this is the perfect treatment to indulge in. Efficient without feeling rushed and utterly luxurious, at AED400 the Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial offers so much more than a simple facial scrub. While more convenient for those who are in the Downtown area, for a stand out facial it’s worth the trek.

Shaken not stirred

With the endless number of venues to choose from when looking for a night out, sometimes it just makes sense to go with a classic. So, what could be better than teaming an evening at one of Dubai’s most long-standing hotels with a ladies night dedicated to 007’s signature drink? Team TMN were only too happy to investigate…

What: Hakkatini Nights

Where: Hakkasan Dubai, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai

When: Saturday – Wednesday, 6pm – 2am

The promise: “A relaxed yet elegant experience at Hakkasan Dubai, offering guests a perfect combination of Hakkasan’s beautiful Martinis and delicious small eats”

Did it deliver?  As Team TMN made our way to the outdoor terrace, we were captivated by Hakkasan’s décor, classic in its oriental elegance but achieving a modern feel thanks to the cobalt blue, neon-lit bar that ran the length of the venue. Once outside, we settled into the chilled vibe – incredibly inviting if you’re looking for a relaxed catch up with the girls, as there’s none of the hectic crowds you might find elsewhere.

A great deal if you’re a Martini lover, the ladies night package offered three variations of the classic cocktail, including the signature Hakkatini, the Zesty Martini – which was a particularly intriguing twist on the original – and Lychee Martini, all accompanied by number of small eats.

With regards to the selection available, the food menu – like the drinks offering – definitely caters to an acquired taste. Choosing from a slightly limited menu, we sampled the stir-fry vegetables and pine nut lettuce wrap, the fried soft-shell crab with chilli and curry leaf, the chef’s selection of dim sum basket, the mooli puff, prawn crackers and homemade macaron. While it’s always a good concept to include food where ladies night is concerned, do make a point to remember the ‘small’ in small eats – it’s definitely more of a light-bite over a cocktail than something to hold you over for the evening. Undeterred by this, the peckish TMN team did end up ordering extra plates from the main menu and we spent the rest of the evening partnering great conversation with a cocktail in hand – no better way to spend a ladies night!

The verdict: A stunning venue in an ideal location, Hakkatini Nights is a great concept for those who are partial to James Bond’s signature cocktail. At AED275 per person, it’s not really value for money when comparing to other ladies night offerings, but it certainly seems to be targeting a select crowd. While we would like to see it appeal to a wider audience with a little more choice to the small eats and drinks menu, it still makes for a delightfully relaxed evening.

Asian Persuasion

As Dubai gears up for spring, it’s unquestionably the best time of year for the UAE’s outdoor-loving residents. So, there couldn’t be a better way for Team TMN to spend the season than with a recently opened restaurant – outdoor of course – in the heart of the city…

What: Zeta Restaurant/Lounge

Where: The Address Downtown, Dubai

When: Daily, 12pm – 12am

The promise: “With spectacular views over Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, Zeta Restaurant/Lounge is an exquisite new outdoor dining experience in the heart of Downtown Dubai, specialising in Asian fusion cuisine. With an informal and relaxed look and feel, the new dine-in destination is envisaged to elevate the standards of hospitality through its family-style approach.”

Did it deliver? As we stepped out onto the terrace, the first thing that Team TMN were met with was the best of what Downtown Dubai has to offer. Directly overlooking the fountains and the iconic Burj Khalifa, the panoramic views were like experiencing dinner and a show and we couldn’t have asked for better seats if we’d paid for them. The minimalist décor was ideal, with nothing to distract from the restaurant’s main attraction – the view – though it still managed to capture the theme with subtle Asian styling.  While it had a large capacity for diners and bar goers alike – people were still arriving as late as 11pm – an intimate atmosphere was created which was perfect for a sophisticated meal with either friends, guests or for business.

We started off the night with one of Zeta’s signature ‘ubertails’. Extending the ever-popular sharing concept to its drinks menu, we sampled their highly recommended lemongrass & coconut cocktail. Arriving in a large glass server – enough for four – it was a novel concept and deceptively tasty – you definitely don’t need four people to enjoy it!

With Japanese cuisine ranking high on TMN’s flavours of choice, we were delighted to find the menu abundant with unique recipes, though not so many that it became impossible to choose. We began with a signature sushi dish – the Burj Roll – which came with salmon, avocado, chopped lettuce, lightly spiced mayo and tobiko. While some of the Team admittedly weren’t the biggest fans of sushi, the dish successfully won over even our more skeptical members.  Adhering to the sharing concept of the restaurant, everything was brought as made and we enjoyed the shrimp tempura, crispy and generously portioned, as well as the prawn avocado salad, which was delicious enough to make even a non-seafood eater think otherwise.

Moving onto the main courses, the stand out of the night was definitely the spicy wagyu beef tenderloin, which was accompanied with Japanese rice. Literally melting in the mouth, it had an intoxicating flavour which would bring us back again on that reason alone! Additionally, we tried the miso-marinated black cod with pickled ginger and yuzu emulsion – unique in flavour and an absolutely gorgeous recipe for seafood lovers.

Naturally, we had to try our hand at Zeta’s signature desserts. The perfect meringues – whipped and creamy at the centre – of the marinated mango pavlova with a refreshing coconut sorbet and almond crumble, really brought the evening home. For all the size of the portions, there wasn’t a crumb left! All that was left to do was sit back with a few more cocktails and soak up the scenery.

The verdict: It’s definitely more than just the view and the venue that’s the draw at Zeta. With a unique menu for both dinner and drinks, you can see why people continued to arrive throughout the night, as it’s a fantastic place to spend or end an evening. For the quality and portion sizes of the dishes, you definitely get what you pay for; you’d be forgiven for thinking it would be extravagant, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Do make sure you book ahead of time though – as the weather continues to get better, we can see this being the top spot of the season!


Experiencing the high life

With all the little stresses of an average week, Team TMN is no stranger to the typically English desire of solving everything with a cup of tea. So, when we heard that a certain hotel was launching a new afternoon tea, we were happy to take our unwinding somewhere slightly more upmarket…

What: The Palace High Tea Buffet

Where: The Palace Downtown Dubai

When: Every Wednesday and Saturday, 2pm – 6pm

The promise: “Guests looking to make the most of their afternoon can savour traditional and contemporary dishes, featuring a delectable selection of hot and cold appetisers, entrees and desserts, as well as pairing their experience from our line-up of over 25 different varieties of premium loose tea and infusions.

Did it deliver? Taking in the elegantly traditional Arabic interior, Team TMN made our way into the lobby of The Palace Downtown Dubai where the high tea was being served. While a fairly sizable venue, the atmosphere created was intimate and relaxed by the variety of comfortable sofas and table settings; definitely somewhere you could settle in for a catch up with friends or afternoon with the family.

After being led to our table, Arnand – The Palace’s charming Tea Sommelier – gave us an informative and frankly fascinating tour of the multitude of teas on offer from the TWG brand – not just your average English breakfast here, he even introduced us to the quaint library where we were able to polish our knowledge on the culture of tea.

Settling for a gorgeous smelling Assam blend, we were served with a refreshing mint mocktail to cleanse the palate while we perused the offerings of the buffet. Although it might seem a slightly unusual concept to have high tea without the accompanying stacked trays, the buffet proved a winning idea as it allowed us to fill our plates with exactly what we wanted – there wasn’t going to be a bite left!

We started with an assortment of cakes and light savoury bites, with the variety of brownies, cheesecakes and éclairs being particular favourites along with the assortment of finger sandwiches. In another twist to traditional high tea, we were served a selection of hot entrees to the table – a sharing concept that ensured the food remained hot and full of flavor. All perfectly cooked, the salmon quiche and seafood puffs were definite winners, cleverly portioned to ensure you could try a little of everything. Naturally, high tea wouldn’t be complete without homemade scones, which were light and fluffy and offered a mixture of plain and cranberry; the only critique we had was the need for more clotted cream!

Finally, there was the Royal Al Bayt Ice Tea presentation. Admittedly, Team TMN had never given ice tea much thought and certainly not at a high tea; yet this proved to be the highlight of the afternoon. Served to the table on an elegant gold tray set, each ice tea was presented in crystal glassware, a thoughtful flourish which created a personal touch. Each recipe has been created in-house, and we sampled the vividly coloured teas ranging from the amerana ruby to the imperial garnet and the intensely blue Al Bayt citrine – but the stand out was the amethyst ice tea, whose blend of passion fruit, vanilla and purple flower syrups in chamomile tea, made for a deliciously unique beverage. An experience unlike anything else we’ve seen on offer, this concept was a perfect way to round off the afternoon.

The verdict: The Palace High Tea Buffet certainly isn’t one of your run-of-the-mill afternoon teas. Having really stepped it up with the focus on tea as well as the food, they have gone beyond a simple high tea to really stand out in creating a leisurely afternoon experience. Full of delightful surprises and with the price set at just AED 180 per person, it’s an afternoon worth every penny!

Simply SensAsianal

Ladies night has become a staple in the Dubai nightlife scene, with Team TMN always on the look out for the next hot venue in town. So when we discovered that a certain spa had jumped on the bandwagon, curiosity got the better of us…

What: Ladies Night @ SensAsia Urban Spa

Where: SensAsia Urban Spa, Souk Al Manzil, Dowtown, Dubai

When: Monday, 6pm – 10pm

The promise: “The Thai-meets-NYC day spa invites the city’s stylish females to come as a pair for great savings and a very special experience… we’ve got a feeling you’ll never moan about Monday again.”

Did it deliver? After a decidedly busy day at TMN Towers, we were eager to unwind with a ladies night – and with SensAsia’s novel approach to this Dubai tradition, our expectations were high. Upon discovering the spa tucked away in the heart of Souk Al Manzil, we felt our tension ebbing away as we swapped our shoes for slippers and sunk into chairs with a refreshing elderflower mocktail.

After a warm welcome by our therapists, we were led through to our private changing room, where we donned fluffy white dressing gowns and committed to the surprisingly comfortable (and optional) disposable underwear – no paper pants here! Aside from the luxurious Asian-inspired interiors, what stood out to Team TMN was the intoxicating aroma throughout the spa – a gorgeous blend of scents creating a tangibly calming effect that went beyond the actual massage – the entire ambience was relaxing.

Offering four of their renowned signature massages, the ‘menu’ for SensAsia’s ladies night caters with a well-rounded selection of treatments; with the choice of a stress-busting Thai Yoga Stretch massage, Bali Chic massage, a Pillow Talk massage (said to be ultra calming and includes hot cocoa) or a Knead-It massage.

Opting for the Bali Chic, we relaxed onto the heated massage table – a unique way of warming the muscles we hadn’t yet experienced – while our skilled therapist, Pin, started with a light peppermint foot rub. The Bali Chic offers a slight twist on the traditional Balinese massage; the 90-minute treatment literally flew by as we settled into a state of blissful tranquility with a much-needed Thai yoga-style stretch for tense muscles, followed by SensAsia’s renowned full body massage accompanied by oils that were heavenly on the skin – we were still feeling the moisturising effects days later! With minute attention to detail, even the background music was enjoyable – no stop and start CD changes – yet another aspect that helped to fully immerse us into the experience.

Feeling utterly rejuvenated, we were then led into the relaxation area (if relaxing any further would even be possible at this point) and snuggled onto the lounge beds with a heat pack round our shoulders, a blanket round our feet and a cup of fresh ginger tea, with a side of cucumber and carrot sticks to munch on. By the time we reluctantly set aside the blankets and headed back to the changing rooms, it was nearly 10pm – later than we had anticipated, it makes for quite a long evening if you’ve come straight from the office, but worth every moment.

The verdict: A perfect way to get over those Monday blues, the whole experience makes for a novel and relaxing evening; even at AED460 per treatment, with the second person going free it works out at a bargain price of AED230 for a 90-minute treatment. A perfect night out with the girls, the one downside is that the offer is only available at their Downtown venue, so you do need to book in advance to ensure a place at a convenient time – we’ve already booked in for next week!