Aprons & Hammers – Get cracking!
In Dubai there are 3 ways you get to know about restaurants – either through the PR machinery where every publication carries a review or through word-of-mouth (of course once you hear the restaurant’s name and visit it, you will suddenly see a stream of reviews which you had failed to chance upon earlier – Murphy’s Law I guess!) or you just chance upon a a restaurant and decide to try it. I like the word-of-mouth route – it comes recommended yet you are not allowed to form your own judgement.
One such restaurant in Dubai that I was told about was Aprons & Hammers.
Its not your conventional four walled restaurant – it is situated on a converted dhow (anchored) with beautiful vistas of Dubai. It is breathtaking in whichever direction you chose to look. There is an upper deck (non-ACed) and a lower deck (ACed) – so depending on the weather you will need to chose your seating preference.
Booking a table is essential as there is limited seating and this restaurant has become quite popular.
What would a review be if we don’t talk about the food – well this place is all about ‘seafood’ – crabs, mussels, calamrai, shrimp – oh the endless possibilities of yummy-ness. Vegetarians will be disappointed as there is only one dish on the menu that they will actually be able to eat (besides the french fries).
I love calamari so we ordered the Classic Crispy Calamari (AED 35) and Steamed Black Pepper Clams (AED 35). Luckily for us this floating restaurant serves alcohol as well (Important to note, of the 3 Aprons & Hammer venues, this is the only one that serves alcohol).
The calamri was crunchy and the tarter sauce was an ideal accompaniment. The Clams were chewy and briny, spiked with lemon juice, a lick of garlic and a dusting of chopped parsley. For the clams the flavour is at the bottom the the dish, so make sure you give it a bit of a toss before you start eating.
For the mains we went to their ‘What we Do Best’ section. If this is what they claim they do ‘best’ we got to give it a shot right! Its quite simple really – you chose your seafood (choices include crab, shrimp, mussels, jumbo shrimps and lobster). Depending n how many of you are going to eat and how hungry you are, you can choose a small or large portion. The small portion is good for 2 people, and the large will be good for 3. Any more than that, you should order an additional ‘bucket’ choice.
You then chose a sauce you would like them cooked in (you do have an option of a dipping sauce).
There is no standing on ceremony; it’s all about getting involved and enjoying the experience. You will need to don an apron (I suggest you do, it can get messy) and depending on what you are eating, get set to use the hammer (you can be use to either bang away all your frustrations or simply crack open your crustacean. Just as a warning, with each bang comes a squirt to your neighbor so be careful and aim wisely), the Crab Cracker (The best way to use it is to go along the crab leg and ever so slightly crack the shell or better still use your teeth) and finally the mini claw (a long metal rod with a small hook at the tip, which is excellent for grabbing the meat from inside the shell) – at this restaurant, you use your hands where ever possible.
We ordered the Grilled Lobster Platter with Pepper Cream (AED 140). The meat was succulent, the sauce just right and as we delved into the dish, there was a moment of silence as we savored the creamy dipped lobster. It was delicious.
Of course we have been back to this restaurant a number of times and have tried the Crab Bucket, but this time we chose the lemon butter sauce for dipping (I would recommend you stay away from the dipping option – go for the option where the crustacean is cooked in the sauce).
For desert I have only every had their Chocolate Fondant (AED 28) – and they must be doing something right, coz thats what I order each time.
A restaurant cannot be rated on food alone, the service is also important. Although friendly and well meaning, the service was not that great and is in need of a bit more attentiveness.
That said, I still return. In a city filled with expensive restaurants with fine dining aspirations (which often fail to deliver on their promises), this unpretentious seafood shack is a very welcome addition.
Some points to note:
There are 3 locations for Aprons & Hammer:
- The Dhow, DIMC (Dubai International Marine Club) – next to Mina Seyahi Beach Resort (near Barasti). Telephone No. +971 4 4547097. Alcohol served.
- At the foot of the Address Hotel, Downtown, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Boulevard Downtown. Telephone No. +971 4 363 6552 (note there is an indoor seating as well as an outdoor seating – I would chose the indoor seating, as the outdoor is on the footpath at a cross road very close of Dubai Mall traffic and I would prefer to have my food without the vroom vrooms from the fancy cars trying to vie for attention). Valet is available, but takes time to bring your car round. Suggest you take a taxi.
- The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence. (I have not visited this location yet!). Parking is a mess, so please take a taxi.