Though one would think the sprawling Palm Jumierah is already saturated with swanky hotels, there seems to be no shortage of new ones opening there doors on what seems to be a daily basis. Most pass All Mouth DXB by without much interest (being based in downtown it takes something rather noteworthy to drag me that far down Sheikh Zayed Road) However the new opening of the Viceroy was an exception to that (fairly flimsy) rule.
The building itself is stunning, a great square behemoth of two wings, centrally intersected by a towering glass cube enclosing an intricate wooden sculpture, it’s a sight to behold and draws attention as soon as one rounds the corner on to golden mile.
Inside the atmosphere is relaxed yet luxurious. Décor is modern and sleek, yet a myriad of natural colours and paired back styling keep it from being too try hard.
We arrived at the reception deck of Quatro Passi around 10 minutes early for our reservation. It would seem this was ten minutes too early as we were pointedly ignored by staff fro sometime before a hostess dithered into view to greet us. Luckily once she had found her way to the desk she was all smiles and her warm manner softened the glaring faux pas that’d just occurred.
Upon being led through the restaurant we opted to sit outside by the pool, this was (even if I do say so myself) an excellent choice. Quatro Passi’s outdoor terrace is treated to view of the sprawling entrance way sculpture on one side and the calm sea on the other. In the middle is a courtyard bordered by the hotels rooms and outlets, an infinity pool sits centrally and soft lighting, tonal colours, and relaxed music give the whole area a down to earth ‘holiday’ vibe. The ambience is neither cool, nor showy which enhances its comfort tenfold. My highest praise? The lack of ‘nightclub’ music is a refreshing break from the current Dubai trend of pumping house music in a dining room.
We were greeted by an earnest, friendly waiter who was quick to get us some drinks organised and promptly disappeared to fetch water. He was gone quite some time when our water arrived with another (equally earnest) waitress and in confusion was placed in the neighbouring tables cooler bucket and left there, neither open nor poured.
Still more time passed and eventually our Negronis arrived, they were good, very good. Though inexplicably served in martini glasses.
Eventually our waiter found his way back to our tale to take our order though when we enquired about our water it seemed we took him by surprise.
Being greedy/lazy folk we opted for a tasting menu of chef’s choice and were guided by the most obliging of sommeliers on an appropriate wine choice.
Our first course was Quattro Passi’s signature dish of squid taglitelle: a cold dish with ribbons of soft, melt in the mouth squid sparingly dressed with the lightest of sauces; a true triumph of simplicity done extremely well. The squid was accompanied by a burrata salad to share for the table, rocket, tomatoes and two of the biggest rounds of burratta I’ve ever seen. If anything the burratta salad was the biggest let down of the evening, the tomatoes were bland, anaemic, winter tomatoes and the burrata wasn’t as fresh as it should have been, meaning the cream from the middle didn’t flow and puddle as it could have but stayed rather solid and had a more mousse-like texture.
The following courses were a symphony of flavour and an absolute ode to the art of taking very little and turning it in to something very, very good. All dishes were comprised of perhaps five or less ingredients but the ingredients were so fine they were matched only by the craftsmanship and needed the bare minimum of manipulating to turn them into knock out dishes. A spaghetti vongole with a butter sauce that was so scarce it made its richness almost magical. Taglitelle that was cooked to such a toothsome aldente it elevated its truffle accompaniment to previously unknown heights. And for the love of god, go try the Linguine alla Nerano, you wont regret it. Pasta is at the heart of Quarto Passi’s concept and its easy to see why, Chef Giuseppe Cipriani whose famous for his talent with fresh pasta showcases it here superbly along with an obvious and necessary respect for the simplicity needed to highlight the quality of the ingredients.
To finish we were presented with a plate of knobbly, home made lemon cream cannoli that until spotting them I’d have insisted I had no room left to try. Thankfully there’s always room for dessert and these were more than deserving of their place. Tangy Sicilian lemons added a welcome edge to the sweet cream filling in the dense, crunchy dough. Reminiscent of childhood sherbet lemons, but with a grown up tough of savoury aftertaste, the cannoli were balanced to a tee and the perfect end to such a high class meal.
Though the staff still appear to be suffering from first day nerves and allowing themselves to make silly mistakes, the flow of the venue isn’t so easily disturbed. The overall atmosphere of ease and peace is maintained by the effortless excellence in the food and the stunning surroundings. There are growing pains, and no hiding them, but Quattro Passi shows promise and stands to be a new-found-regular spot for myself and SO. Bravo.
Quattro Passi, The Viceroy Hotel
No.1 Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE