The Waldorf has done it again; they’ve managed to top my favourite regional restaurant with Social by Heinz Beck which now tops my favourite list.
I was under no assumption that a restaurant stamped with renowned Chef Heinz Beck’s name would be anything less than exceptional but for an all-round dining experience I was rather pleasantly surprised with each and every aspect of this fine-dining eatery located in the Waldorf Astoria on Palm Jumeirah.
Heinz Beck is a one of the world’s greatest chefs and with 3 Michelin Stars under his belt, his Dubai outlet had a lot to live up to. He is widely recognised throughout Europe as a master of modern gastronomy, expressing a unique interpretation of the modern kitchen created from raw culinary talent and an innovative vision.
Social is classed as a fine-casual dining restaurant and with the beautifully presented tables, oversized comfy chairs and low soulful jazz acoustics, it manages to excel at this concept where so many of its competitors fail. Casual fine dining is a tricky thing to master, always leaning more towards one way but Social, although clearly a high-end restaurant, manages to be both relaxed and elegant in one. Featuring inviting design elements and offering a vast menu of European cuisine, Social by Heinz Beck offers a relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere, making this an ideal setting for all occasions. The restaurant itself is vast yet still manages to be both cosy and intimate.
Our gastronomic experience began, as all good meals should, with a sparkling glass of Prosecco and the most beautifully presented hors d’œuvre I have seen, a personal favourite being the Beetroot Macaroons. Sweet, sugary macaroons filled with Wasabi mayonnaise absolutely should not work, but the contrast in flavours explodes in the mouth in a true union of sweet and savory.
We opted for a set ‘Heinz Beck special menu’ consisting of all the signature dishes from the restaurant, a delicious seven course feast that not only left you feeling satisfied rather than stuffed but each individual dish seemed to get better as the meal went on in terms of both taste and presentation.
The main a la carte menu is vast, with dishes for the discerning palette from Turbot with Caponata Sicilina and succulent Grilled Lamb Rack Medallion with Green Olive Crust and Mediterranean Vegetables which looked as good as it tasted apparently from the “oohs and aahs” that came from my dining partner.
Next followed Lobster on crushed ice, a beautiful pre-appetizer that again was pleasantly surprising, the temperature of the ice keeping the lobster cool enough to remain flavoursome in the mouth.
My starter consisted of Scallops on Green Pea Purée with Artichoke Vinaigrette and being a big scallop fan I had high expectations. Three huge, juicy scallops rested on a bed of pea purée and I am delighted to report it was as good as I had hoped.
Further dishes to follow included yet more Lobster with medallions soaked in almond cream and Mushroom tortellini with a trapanese pesto.
The dish I was most excited about however came next; Fagotelli Carbonara, Mr Beck’s signature dish. This delightful Italian inspired dish is his most recognised and indeed, requested. The unconventional carbonara sees hot pools of sauce encased within pursed pasta parcels rather than being poured over, so when you bite into the perfectly cooked pasta, the sauce literally bursts in the mouth with a rich, indulgent flavour. Not a dish for those on a diet but it would be a crime not to try this.
For main course, (no I still wasn’t there yet) I opted for Duck with topinambur purée. As duck is a red meat it is best to have this cooked relatively on the rare side but my medium-rare came out perfectly. Thick pieces of duck breast nestled on seasonal vegetables and artichoke puree with a polite drizzling of jus.
Social by Heinz Beck believes in the concept of pre-desert, yes a desert before your actual desert and who is going to argue with that. A delicious palette cleansing sorbet with what appeared to be a giant chocolate button poking out was a welcome way to prepare the tastebuds for Heinz beck’s other signature dish, Raspberries 1.1 This dish is world-famous for its innovative ways of presenting raspberries to the diner. In fact, Raspberries 1.1 means 11 different ways to offer our favourite red berry including with meringue, in sorbet form, in mousse, jelly, sponge… you name it Heinz Beck thought of it. The eleven textures of raspberries was light and refreshing and aesthetically one of the nicest dishes I had ever clapped eyes on, being a brilliant rainbow of pink.
Each course was paired with a sommelier chosen wine, a beautiful combination of white and red. The Shiraz Weighbridge, Peter Lehmann, Australia 2o12 that accompanied my chosen Fagottelli Carbonara was my personal favourite but other expertly picked wines included the Riesling, hugel & fils, Alsace, France 2013 which accompanied my scallops and the delectable Gewurztraminer Late Harvest, Montes, Curico, Chile 2012 with the duck.
One of the most notable things at Social by Heinz Beck however isn’t the truly fantastic food that is well worth every penny, it is the impeccable service. From start to finish, the staff were attentive, informative and were more than happy to attend to our every whim and answer a barrage of food related questions from me, a notorious foodie. The restaurant remained true to not only Heinz Beck’s impeccable reputation for being one of the most important chefs of our time but also to the reputation of the Waldorf brand that has truly come into its own in the Middle East.
Social by Heinz Beck also offers a Friday brunch where guests are invited to feast on innovative Italian cusine indivative of Cheg Heinz Beck’s unique culinary approach. The signature brunch runs each friday from 12:30pm – 3:30pm.
I know where I’ll be at the weekend.
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