Living right next to Downtown Dubai’s Opera for almost two years now, I’ve been to the building multiple times and I just love it. The fact that people were looking for a culinary offering there can be seen from the amounts of people pouring into the nearby ‘Carribou’ for a quick bite to eat either before or after the show. When I heard that there is a new restaurant Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera opening up, I was excited to try it out and intrigued by what concept could have been cultivated to fit in with the the surrounding settings.
While Chef Connolly is a bit of a celebrity in both New Zealand and Australia especially after opening up five restaurants and making numerous tv appearances, this was his first venture in the Middle East. I never dined at any of his restaurants before, but after some research I was excited to head to Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera to try the “contemporary brasserie serving seafood and steak”. We went there on a Sunday for lunch and upon arriving to the second floor were pleasantly surprised with an incredibly well lit, open-space that had the prettiest coral and oceanic tones. While the restaurant was empty when we first arrived at around 12pm, it surprisingly got more busy towards 2pm. The brasserie features two bars, one serving cocktails and The Raw Bar serving oysters and other types of shellfish, as well as The Fire Bar, a grill for pizzas and such.
The à la carte menu features a selection of raw seafood and light appetizers while the main dishes are a variety of pasta and seafood dishes as well as meat grills. In addition to the à la carte menu, there were two pre-theatre options, one which included 2 courses for 155 AED/pp. and one that included 3 courses for 195 AED/pp. The pre-theatre menus include options such as Oyster fritters, Tomato Tart Tartin and a Raw Plate for appetizers, Fish and Chips, Roast Aubergine and a Daube of Beef for mains, and Opera Cake, Lemon Tart and Frozen Nougat for dessert.
We opted for the à la carte menu, with Watermelon, Strawberry Tomato, Torn Mint and Whipped Feta Salad, Grilled White Peaches, Buffalo Mozzarella, Pistachio Pesto and Salmon Sashimi for appetizers. Both the Watermelon Salad and Buffalo Mozzarella had such a refreshing taste, with the watermelon forming a great combination with the strawberry tomato, mint and feta. The white peaches and pesto were also a great addition to the buffalo mozzarella and each bite just completely melts in your mouth. The quality of the salmon sashimi was also exquisite.
Moving on to the mains, we opted for the Crab and Chilli Linguine and the 300g Sirloin with a side of Duck Fat Chips. The Linguine was a wonderful cross between creamy and lemon-ey and the portion of crab on the plate was very generous! The Sirloin steak was cooked to perfection and the chips were also perfect, crisp on the outside and soft and delicious once you bite into them. When it came to the dessert, we were actually quite full but nevertheless decided to try the popular Hazelnut semi Freddo coated with popped corn and salted caramel sauce. This served as a delicious end to a wonderful meal, especially with the ice cream hidden beneath layers of popcorn and salted caramel.
The Verdict: There was honestly not a single dish that I tried and didn’t like on the menu, from the well crafted appetizer dishes to the perfectly cooked mains and creative desserts, I can definitely say Sean Connolly is one of my favourites in Dubai. The service there is also great and quick, with the waiters recommending the best dishes as well as answering any questions we had. The atmosphere of the restaurant indoors was also bright and spacious and I can see it being a great dining destination in the evening as well. While we didn’t get a chance to step outdoors, it also looked like a great place to grab a quick bite and drink before the show, especially with the Burj Khalifa view.
As always, if you’ve been, please let me know your thoughts and if you do end up going sometime in the future I would love to know about your experience!