The nightlife in Dubai is constantly changing, with new restaurants, bars and entertainment opening every day. The Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial District is one of two Four Seasons properties in the city and was quite recently established in 2016. Ever popular with visiting business people, it is, however, the newly opened destination bar and restaurant, MINA Brasserie, which has brought the local clientele flooding through the doors. MINA Brasserie is a deliberately stylish combination of chic brasserie-style dining area with booths for seating and bustling hangout bar.
Overseen by award-winning international chef Michael Mina, the day to day running of Mina Brasserie falls to Executive Chef Matthew Dahlkemper, who can often be seen directing service from the pass in the corner of the dining room. The menu features a number of Mina’s signature dishes, but is mainly composed of hearty dishes that use seasonal ingredients and express Michael Mina’s desire to create honest and delicious food to make diners happy.
The bar is a popular new addition to the nightlife around DIFC, as local executives finish work and look for somewhere to relax with an excellent cocktail and some live music. There is a bringing-the-outside-in décor with living flora and plush lounge seating. We chose to sit in the bar when we dined at MINA Brasserie, so that we could soak up this vibrant atmosphere and enjoy the lively South American band playing some old favourites right beside our table. The drinks menu is pretty impressive, with a range of signature cocktails and high-end cigars listed alongside classic cocktails and a range of wines, beers and spirits, so we lost no time in selecting our first beverage. I chose a refreshing Mr Sloe, with sloe gin, lime and ginger beer, while Charlotte opted for a bubbly English Mistress, with gin, Limoncello and St Germain. The cosmopolitan population of Dubai seems to have found a common desire to drink cocktails that are on the sweet side, so it’s worth asking how sweet drinks are before you order them… and be prepared to taste a few before you find one that suits you, if you want something that isn’t so sugary. Alternatively, the bar staff are happy to invent something to your taste!
We began our meal with buttery croissant style rolls, followed by a corn soup amuse bouche that had a light sweetness to it and was served with a cracker and a little caviar. We had been craving seafood for the whole day, so it was wonderful to see so many fishy options on the menu. Michael Mina’s signature tuna tartare seemed to combine many of our favourite flavours; the juicy morsels of deep red flesh were served with white bread triangles and little piles of pine nuts, tangy chopped chilis and garlic, all drizzled with sesame-habanero oil. We were also keen to try the charred octopus, which was at once smoky and perfectly tender, with saffron aioli and citrus dressing. These delectable treats only served to whet our appetites for further marine cuisine adventures, so we decided to splash out (see what I did there?) on a seafood platter…
Served in a huge skillet, the seafood platter is a feast for fish fiends. In it – even in the small platter that we ordered – you can find chargrilled lobster and prawns, scallops and huge limbs of king crab. Melted lemongrass butter is added at the table and sizzles between the various treats to create a bubbling pool of flavour at the bottom of the skillet, as well as a cloud of fragrant steam. All the shellfish comes pre-split, so very little effort in necessary, but you might still get a bit messy dipping the succulent flesh into the butter. I particularly enjoyed the crab; the leg meat was very substantial, almost seeming out of proportion given its delicate sweetness. Charlotte loved the lobster, juicy, tender and served in similar quantities to the crab. We tried our best, but this was a dish which ultimately defeated us. We fell back after several charges, with the remaining crustacea peeking out of the dish in triumph. This is not a dish to be taken on by the merely peckish; it requires a strong commitment from at least three diners to finish it off…
There was barely room for dessert, but we persisted and shared a giant chocolate macaron filled with chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries. This was rather more to my taste than Charlotte’s, being that I’m the one with the chocolate “problem”, so our server insisted that we also try the banana tarte tatin. By this point, we were fully replete, but sometimes a food writer has to make sacrifices and the couple of bites that I had of this were silky with caramel sauce and combined beautifully with the accompanying ice cream.
The bar was a great place to people watch; the crowds from the nearby financial district provided plenty of entertainment as the drinks flowed and the band whipped everyone into a beaming, swaying mass, the cares of work easily melting away. With top class food and service, an excellent cocktail bar and a lively atmosphere, I imagine that the newly opened MINA Brasserie will be a popular fixture in Dubai’s after-work scene for some time to come, as well as providing a venue for impressive business lunches and fun evenings with friends. Make sure you pay it a visit next time you’re in town!
Four Seasons Hotel Dubai International Financial District
Building 9, Unit GV09
Level GF Gate Village
United Arab Emirates