I really love restaurants that do themed right. A well conceptualized menu that showcases the cuisine they wish to champion, creative décor that spotlights regional motifs without recreating a cheap souvenir tableau, dishes and drinks that know when to stay true to their terroir and when to borrow from the global repertoire.
So I was really pleased with a visit to Bushman’s – the Aussie restaurant at Anantara The Palm Dubai – that has been on my must-try list ever since I heard it might serve witchetty grubs and other strange meat and bugs from Down Under.
The bugs and grubs might have been a rumour (not sure if they did offer it at one point and took it off the menu like the crocodile that sadly is no longer served), but there was plenty more that captured some inventive Aussie flavours and left me ready to head back for more.
Starting off with the cocktails. We picked a fruity concoction called Gumnut, made from Havana Rum and raspberries and presented in a tumbler covered with a glass cloche sprayed with eucalyptus-infused rum mist. I never thought drinking anything with eucalyptus could taste that good… I’m starting to see the koalas’ point :)
Cocktail 2 was a savoury Surfer’s Paradise served as a trio of chilli-infused vodka, a freshly shucked oyster and tomato juice that had great body and bite. We were assured we had unknowingly picked the two best cocktails on the menu – I was definitely convinced.
After nibbling on a warm plate of crusty Damper bread (traditional Australian soda bread) served with olive oil and a Bush Tucker spice mix of sesame seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and earthy cumin, we settled on the Australian Antipasti platter which offered a great spread of native delicacies for those that can’t decide what to pick.
The platter was as much a feast for the eyes as the palate – a selection of paperbark smoked kangaroo with a wild spice and bush tomato relish, eucalyptus-smoked Tasmanian Salmon, delicate Yabby tail served with rosella slaw (a local Australian hibiscus) and seared emu fillet drizzled with lemon aspen salsa verde – all artfully arranged and perfectly proportioned to be shared by two (check out the lead pic at the top of the blog post).
I decided to go all out on the Aussie theme for the main course as well – picking the Kangaroo sirloin which was prepared with a chilli glaze that gave a good amount of heat, and served with a crisp sweet potato fritter and pak choi. My dining companion picked a cut of tender wagyu ribeye off the Butcher’s Board that has perfectly prepared and delicious with a creamy pepper sauce. The beef was richly flavoursome and I think I had a slight case of plate envy despite picking the more authentic Aussie main… But I got over it when I picked out the fancier steak knife from the case presented at the table so guests can choose their dish-demolition weapon of choice. A nice touch :)
Bushman’s has a healthy selection of wines by the glass (which as a light drinker I always appreciate) in addition to the bottle, with the wine list unsurprisingly composed largely of Aussie and Kiwi grape.
The dessert list looked fairly substantial and suitably Australian too and a Tim Tam and raspberry ganache tart provided a decadent end to a very enjoyable meal. (The Jaffa Cake brownie was slightly less successful, in being more cakey than brownie in texture, but one miss in an otherwise genuinely enjoyable meal is easily forgivable).
Bushman’s laidback atmosphere definitely lived up to its Aussie theme, with light live music offering a chilled out background track to an evening that hit all the right notes of casual comfort. The airy interiors wrap round a stylish bar, and the terrace tables offer a unique vista of both the Burjs – you definitely feel a fair way from the main Dubai drag on this corner of the Palm’s Eastern Crescent. Not quite the Australian Outback, but far enough to forget the to-do list!
The restaurant even had my favourite ghostly wire frame animals (I discovered these in Berlin earlier this year and love the quirky addition they make to a space.)
Service was friendly and well informed, confident with recommendations and personal without being pushy. A big thumbs up!
I will definitely be imitating the rows of boomerangs at the door and making a return trip!
(Disclaimer: My meal was hosted by Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort but I had such a lovely evening, Bushman’s is going straight onto my list of recommended restaurants in Dubai for a taste of something different coupled with a chilled out vibe – definitely my kind of place. I am surely heading back to try their Lazy Saturday Brunch at the first chance I get, which at AED330 a head with house beverages sounds like fantastic value.)
Named Best Blog for Food & Travel
Top 10 UAE Food Blogs in UAE