The ‘terrace lounge’ is a favourite dining concept in a city like Dubai that boasts of stunning views, be it of the sea or zipping, pulsating roads flanked by glittering buildings. It’s where you would go for a chilled evening out with friends or family, chatting lazily over drinks or a hookah and some music. However, in most such places, I have noticed, food takes a backseat over experience. A few predictable starters, greasy bar bites and some even more predictable beverages quite sum up a meal at a terrace lounge. But The Penthouse at the plush FIVE Palm Jumeirah does a 360 degree spin on this notion and that’s what makes it so special. It’s not just the vibe and the view that you will talk about but also the food.
But first the vibe. Operating from a massive space, The Penthouse, on the 16th floor, has a glamorous yet relaxing ambiance that converts from a rooftop day club to a fun evening lounge seamlessly. I especially loved the glass-lined swimming pools; what fun it would be to swim here with the sun setting over the Palm Jumeirah in view! Though the idea of dressing up and spending an evening with your gal pals at the Ladies’ Night is an equally tempting proposition! Divided by a semi-private dining area, the other side of the terrace feels more like a resort – with sunken beds and an intimate feel. Either way, there is a very sophisticated air that makes it an ideal hangout any day of the week (though we were told that Fridays can get rather busy and naughty with Dubai’s well-heeled turning on the heat of the party!)
Now, the food. If not the atmosphere, the menu alone makes you want to be a regular. The extremely friendly servers make the perfect recommendations so our suggestion is to leave your choice in their safe hands. Though frankly, we loved everything that was on offer. Chef Alex Sebastian’s Japanese-influenced Asian menu has a bit of everything – from soft, high-quality wagyu sliders to fresh delicious sushi and sashimi, from the most incredible braised ribs (we highly recommend this one with its superb blend of meat and sauces) to lip smacking gyoza and tuna tartare tacos, it’s a veritable feast. And oh did we forget to mention the cocktails and mocktails that set the tone for the evening? The best was for the last – a medley of dessert, served in a humongous insta-worthy large martini glass holding passion fruit sandwich, caramelised ice-cream and oh-so-drool-worthy mochi ce-cream. An evening at the lounge never felt this much fun!
A TETE-A-TETE WITH ALEX SEBASTIAN, CHEF DE CUISINE AT THE PENTHOUSE
What was the thought behind the menu at The Penthouse?
We wanted to create a selection of dishes that people could graze on throughout the day as well as join us in the evening for dinner. The menu features Japanese and French influences – we use French cooking techniques in a Japanese style. The cheese and truffle gyoza, for example, is made using traditional French ingredients in an Asian style dumpling.
How challenging is it to decide the menu for a terrace lounge catering to a wide variety of tastes as opposed to a specialty restaurant?
I knew exactly what I wanted to create at The Penthouse. FIVE Palm Jumeirah has a range of dining options from Chinese and Italian at Maiden Shanghai and Quattro Passi to world cuisine at BLVD on One, so I wanted something a little different. For me, the biggest challenge was not cooking or the execution, it was sourcing the right ingredients for authentic flavours.
What are your top three recommendations from the menu?
- Braised short ribs, served with namuru salad and a spicy beef glaze
- Spicy tuna tartare with yuzo avocado and crispy nori crackers
- Grilled seabass with spicy shisho salsa, red onion and coriander salad.
Personally, what’s your favourite cuisine?
I learned to cook using traditional French cooking techniques so I would have to say French. That said, I love cooking in an Asian style so can I take both?