Seeing stars

After the official launch last month, Team TMN were invited to try out what is rumoured to be the most exclusive new dining destination in Dubai. But would the restaurant live up to the world-renowned reputation created by its two Michelin-starred Italy-based outlet? We wasted no time in finding out…

What: Don Alfonso 1890

Where: 2nd floor, Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai

When: Open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner, 12 – 3pm and 7pm – 11.30pm

The promise: “Don Alfonso 1890 will draw on its impressive pedigree to serve authentic yet contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. A multitude of global accolades for Don Alfonso 1890’s ‘living off the land’ approach to five-star dining, including the Five Star Diamond Award from 2000 to 2013, confirm Don Alfonso 1890’s reputation for culinary excellence.”

Did it deliver? A warm welcome from the restaurant hostess won us over instantly as we entered the large marble-clad restaurant, while the long, imposing bar proved the perfect prop to start the evening with a pre-dinner cocktail.

With an extensive menu teeming with Italian favourites, we were spoilt for choice by the number of classic dishes, each given a twist that is signature to Don Alfonso’s recipes. We began with an amuse bouche, thoroughly enjoying the curious yet delicious combination of warmed Pumpkin Puree, with Caper and Cream Cheese on Toast.

Next came the Antipasti, with the Lobster and Mozzarella skewer with Lemon flavoured Lettuce Coulis and fresh shaved Black Truffle being a firm favourite among the TMN Team. As to be expected from traditional Italian cuisine, the courses kept on coming. A signature dish of Don Alfonso, the Homemade Potato Gnocci with Cherry Tomatoes and Smoked Scamorza Cheese was the perfect blend of an Italian staple with a tangy kick, and the Baked Bread Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Sautéed Spinach, Salsa Verde and Spicy Tomato Dip was a clear winner for the Secondi Piatti course, perfectly cooked with exceptional flavour.

While the dessert choice was slightly unusual, the Basil Infused Minestrone with Fresh Fruits and Green Apples Sorbet was a delicious surprise, and the Signature Concerto of Lemon Fritters and Yogurt Cream was Don Alfonso using the combination of citrus flavours at its best – definitely one to come back for!

A live Italian singer accompanied the evening using a set list that ranged from soft opera to Adele – a nice addition, although the strange stage set up didn’t fit well with the otherwise classic decor.

The verdict: If you’re a fan of authentic Italian cuisine, this new addition to the Dubai dining scene is anything but your typical spaghetti house. A Michelin star menu with a pleasantly affordable price tag, Don Alfonso 1890 is one that we certainly won’t be saying ciao to for very long…

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