You have the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz. You have the looking glass in Alice and Wonderland. Now, you have the bright yellow door at the J.W. Marriott Marquis Hotel in Business Bay, Dubai.
One of Canada’s chicest exports, Weslodge Saloon debuted in 2012 to much applause and recently opened its distinctive yellow doors in the Middle East, the first of many anticipated Canadian openings in the Emirates over the coming months.
This modern American restaurant and bar is quite unlike anything else in the city at present. It’s creatively cool but with an edge. Described as ‘rock and roll’ chic, everything about Weslodge Saloon takes you by surprise. From being whisked up to the 68th-floor in the ‘is-it-inside-is-it-outside’ lift to walking through the bold, sunshine doors with the iconic Weslodge plaque on the side, it’s easy to liken the experience to falling down the rabbit hole. You’re faced by a fresh, eclectic interior that couldn’t care less about trying too hard, yet has clearly been carefully thought out. Soulful crooning fills the air and breathtaking views out across Dubai’s twinkling lights frame the seating area. It’s all achingly cool.
At first what may appear to be a slightly odd seating plan, sitting side by side on plush velvet sofas smiling uncomfortably at the couple sat opposite you doing exactly the same, is actually an unconventional genius, for as soon as the drinks menu appear you forget about trying not to boggle the people in your line of vision and start to breathe (and drink) in the atmosphere. around you, the animated chatter being infectious. It’s relaxed, unpretentious and is rather like having dinner in someone’s sitting room, albeit someone with exceptional attitude and style.
The menu, one of two main reasons to visit this new haunt, is full of hearty American style dishes, each boasting an innovative twist. This may be a place to visit on your ‘cheat day’ for the extensive menu will have your salivating before you’re even picked an entrée. It is after all self-confessed as ‘for the gutfounded’, a Canadian term meaning ‘very hungry’. Gulp.
Opting for the signature ‘Lobster Poutine’ alongside the ‘ Foie Parfait’, my dining partner and I were clearly in it for the long haul. The ‘Lobster Poutine’ has to be without a doubt, the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten that wasn’t a main course. It’s so naughty you’ll try to shade it out of vision from the other diners until you see they’re all doing exactly the same, tucking in unashamabley with excitable, chomping mouthfuls. A delirious concoction of fresh lobster, hollandaise sauce and soggy house fries. It’s rare I will ever say to visit a restaurant just to taste a AED 65 starter alone, but here I’m preaching exactly that. The ‘Foie Gras Parfait’ is almost as excellent and served with dates, granny smith apples and brioche and I mean, who doesn’t love Foie Gras?
There’s a great selection of raw dishes if you prefer you food uncooked; from ‘Smoky Beef Tartare’ to ‘Scallop Ceviche’, dishes the knowledgable waiting staff are noticeably proud of.
Full from your starters, you need to pull yourself together, wash it down with an expertly mixed cocktail (more on these later) and loosen your belt for the ample selection of main dishes range from succulent seafood to substantial steaks. With casual favourites such as the ‘Weslodge Burger’ and ‘Jumbo Prawns’, the menu reads like a ‘what’s-what’ of favourite foods. The ‘Southern Fried Chicken’ was highly recommended and with good reason, for this isn’t your average KFC feast. Doused in tabasco honey and accompanied by a Brussels sprouts slaw, the ‘Southern Fried Chicken’ came in massive chunks perfectly arranged on a slab of wood and was really something quite special. Dipping between my partner’s delicious chicken and my own ‘8oz Tenderloin Prime steak’, I was in food heaven. There’s a wide range of sides to compliment your chicken and steak (could this get any better?) from thrice cooked chips (twice is so passé), creamed corn, onion rings and even creamed kale, it seems a shame not to order quite the selection. It’s at this point we should point out that Weslodge Saloon has the largest four-metre grill anywhere in the Middle East which may not sound like much but it is this that is responsible for creating the intoxication of flavours that you experience through each and every dish, resulting from a combined use of hardwood and charcoal.
Of course, there’s still desert and if you can force yourself to scoff a slice of pie (only AED 25 a slice!) then prepare to choose between Banoffee, Key Lime and good old Apple pie for a true slice of the American dream.
Now, we mentioned the cocktails briefly above but with expert mixologists on hand to create everything from the unique interpretations of classics on the menu to bespoke drinks just for you, Weslodge Saloon is one of those places that you can while away the hours without even realising. Embracing the rock’n’roll vibe, the beverages on offer, along with the décor, have a distinct 1920s vibe about them such as the orange spiced Old Fashioned. As the clock ticks on, the faint harmonies of yesteryear give way to a resident DJ playing timeless sets of hip hop and of course, rock and roll, although we did spy the odd old school r&b number in there as well.
For the jaw-dropping 360 degree views alone Weslodge is well worth a visit and if you couple that with exceptional, unfussy cuisine and perfectly blended cocktails you’re onto a winner. It’s original, rebellious and dares to be different with a commitment to exceptional service, once you’ve stepped through the glossy yellow door, it’ll be hard to turn back.