Upon reaching the top of Rüya’s stair case I was, I’ll admit, excited. Winner of Time Out’s Best Newcomer – Fine Dining and subject of more than a few recommendations from those in the know, Rüya was set to impress.
First impressions of the venue followed suit, though the music was loud, the decor was breathtaking and the fire pit set my excitement for all things grilled alight.
My enthusiasm was somewhat dampened however on receipt of the menu. It became obvious very quickly that Rüya are making such a enough profit to cover the many breakages of wine glasses as people attempt to fit both themselves and their menu in the chair. As we attempted to read ours the glasses on the table were sent teetering dangerously on edge; caught only by some cat like reflexes among our party. I eventually settled for some light bicep exercise by holding mine out to the side.
Despite the obvious lack of attention to detail paid to menu-to-table-size-ratio I was sure the food and service would make up for it.
Our waiter introduced himself in a suitably on-brand south Mediterranean accent and them promptly disappeared. Leaving us, apparently, to decipher the menu concept ourselves. No indication was given as to whether dishes were designed to share or whether an individual course structure was advised.
Being as we are, a brazen bunch, we took matters into our own hands and decided we would opt for sharing.
Our pre-dinner round of drinks, were outstanding, a classic champagne cocktail with the merest hint of a spice that transported it well and truly to Turkish ground, my other diners agreed their cocktails were equally as impressive. All twists on tried and tested classics with an added edge of something here and something there.
When our waiter returned to take the food order we enquired as to whether we had indeed made the correct decision to share dishes among us, this was met with a shrug and a “well that is the concept” charming.
Having made our selections, the suavest of sommeliers appeared to guide our grape choice, he suggested a Pinot Noir, I mentioned that it wasn’t a favorite of mine, he insisted it was very good, I asked for an alternative grape, he suggested the Pinot Noir. we ordered a Montepulciano.
Our wine arrived, inexplicably chilled, along with our first course. On the menu as a watermelon salad we were presented with a plate of tomatoes; chilled, out of season tomatoes whose sweetness was marred by the small amount of watermelon hidden beneath them.
Then came the beef tartare Köfte, spiced chicken livers and crispy whitebait, none were announced at the table and all were so low on seasoning it was difficult to tell them apart, with our beady eyes on the kitchen pass all evening were saw nary a tasting spoon in sight.
The triumph of our first courses was a beetroot and goat cheese salad, the gentle sweetness of the vegetables did exactly what it was supposed to do, and always does, when paired with salty creamy curds.
Anticipation well and truly diminished, we asked if our waiter could check on the last starter that we were missing, his response: (another) shrug and a “Why not”.
Continuing along the ‘in desperate need of salt’ theme, we moved on to main courses; Güveç a ratatouille-esque vegetable stew that lacked and discernible punch, then an octopus dish that had spent so long sous-vide that its melt-in-the-mouth aim had been surpassed into ‘mush’ the lack of searing on it didn’t help its cause.
The thoroughly enjoyable Wagyu beef and lamb dish was drizzled with a sauce so perfectly matched to its salty, meatiness we were temped to ask for an extra ramekin, its creamy, buttery mouthfeel made the meat all the more satisfying in a truly brilliant juxtaposition. this dish however was let down by the grill chef working the fire pit who, when asked by one of my guests what he was preparing, answered “Wagyu Lamb”
Offended by the lack of product knowledge, untimely, inefficient and frankly rude service, we opted not to have dessert, or even to see the menu, for fear it would take as long to be presented as everything else had. An unfortunate sense of resentment at the amount of money we had to part with for such mediocre experience accompanied our bill.
We were perhaps all the more disappointed by Rüyas stellar reputation and impressive build up, not to mention its potential to be a spectacular evening. None of the food was badly prepared but its colossal lack of seasoning detracted from any flair it held. It would appear that the restaurant is resting on its high level commendation and using that to save money on salt and correct training of their staff.
A stark reminder, for us at least, that one should never be too cool to taste their food at the pass, or too cool to care about guest experience.
Ruya Restaurant & Lounge
1st Floor, Lobby Level
Al Sufouh Road, Dubai Marina
PO Box 482018
+971 4 3999 123