Teatro - Towers Rotana, Dubai

Having tried Teatro at Park Rotana in Abu Dhabi, I had an idea what to expect because the approach is similar - an evening where the cuisine from east and west meet, or as Teatro's marketing team expresses it, "Where Eastern cooking meets Western cuisine". The question in my mind before coming to Teatro was the one I usually ask myself before visiting a restaurant with such a wide focus: will it work?

Teatro is not short on ambience.
As I exit the elevator on the 3rd floor of Towers Rotana, Teatro is right in front of me. Three things make an immediate impact - the low lighting, yellow light and the colour red. It will be a combination and variation of these elements that would set the mood and atmosphere for me at Teatro. My guest and I are shown to our table, and while we are  being seated, I cast an eye over the restaurant to see if there is a window table - unfortunately all the window tables are for parties of 6 and over. A shame, because the oversized windows give a wonderful view of the energy, buzz and lights on Sheikh Zayed Road.

An interesting and creative use of wine corks.  
I loved this walk-in glass cellar.
Be that as it may, shortly after sitting down and being offered menus, I walk around the restaurant. The theatrical motif is created by a  series of black and white prints of classic Hollywood film stars. This is evident throughout the restaurant, even in the bar area. Quite by chance, my eye falls on a picture of Audrey Hepburn, one of my most beloved actresses. A sign of good things to come? The black and whites provide a lovely and dramatic or theatrical, if you will, contrast with the red of the sofa seats and the wonderful selection of lamp shades.

Prawn tempura
We start the evening by ordering the wasabi tempura and the seared scallops. My first choice, the burrata, I am told, is not available. Disappointment. While waiting for the starters, I notice the vibrancy in the restaurant. I soon find out that many of the diners are walk-in as opposed to in-house guests. That is always a sign of a restaurant's popularity because this part of Dubai is awash with restaurant options. The dishes arrive and I am pleased. The tempura is generously sized. Classic tempura - light, crispy and shrimp that has retained some moisture.
Presentation of the day - scallops

As for the scallops. well they are a sight to behold. Magnificent large shells containing the pan seared scallops with spinach, find themselves under a blanket of melted mozzarella cheese. It is quite salty because of the cheese, but a bit of lemon as well as the salad which has balsamic reduced, provide a perfect balance to the dish - salty. sweet and sour. I enjoy it with one of 13 by-the-glass wine options, a Wild Rock Infamous Goose 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Light, zesty and fruity - an easy drinking choice to go with the scallops.

A selection of by the glass wines. 
I intently focus on the waiting staff and am left ambivalent. They are warm, sincere and willing to move outside the training manual and beyond the usual 'How was your meal?' There is a natural friendliness and smiles abound. However there are some glaring lapses in service. My dining partner and I asked for the wi-fi password on 4 separate occasions until we eventually got it. Also, I ordered foie gras, had it acknowledged, but it was never served. A back to basics approach in slowing down during busy times especially to ensure that service does not feel rushed will be a good place to start.

The varied menu makes it really hard to decide on our main course. Fortunately, the staff are quite knowledgeable and confident and bold enough to offer recommendations. With their guidance, we order the vitello al gorgonzola (grilled veal with gorgonzola cream sauce) and the miso seabass. I am impressed by the time of delivery from the time the order is taken, and it is not that long before the main dishes are presented. Concerns I had that the miso would overpower the delicate natural taste of the seabass are ill-founded, as the miso is itself quite delicately done. I am able to taste the seabass. It breaks easily, but not to easily, so to speak. Perfectly cooked.

As for the veal, it too is cooked to my liking. Without even cutting into it I know it is going to be good. I gently tap it with my knife and the tenderness is evident. I cut into it and a lovely pinkish colour meets me. However, I think it an idea to serve the sauce on the side. I am someone who prefers his beef all natural. I also think it will add to the theatre of the serving experience - drama at your table as the sauce is poured. Teatro. My accompanying glass of wine, a Fetzer Eagle Peak 2011 California Merlot, is an uncomplicated and enjoyable organic option that also hits the right notes. Nice.

The classic Teatro dessert sampler.
To round off the evening we try the signature Teatro dessert sampler. It turns out to be a good choice -  a platter comprising banana spring rolls, chocolate cake, raspberry ice cream and raspberry panna cotta. The panna cotta is nice, without raising my excitement levels. The same for the ice cream. I think a raspberry sherbert would have worked better because it brings a genuine sour element to the sampler. The spring rolls and the chocolate cake, though, manage to stir my emotions. The cake in particular, is rich with 60% chocolate. Yum.

Teatro serves good food. The service, despite a few glitches, is warm and easy. It is a restaurant high on ambience; a happy place to be,  as was evidenced by a group who broke out to sing for one of their party who celebrated her birthday. While I still maintain that this type of concept just allows too many choices of cuisines because it uses an 'east meets west' catchphrase, there is a definite following for this wide ranging menu. Personally, I like a more focused menu. Overall, I had a very good evening thanks to the friendly staff and the fine dishes sent out by the wonderful team of chefs. Their dishes against the stylish backdrop of Teatro made it an evening worth talking about!

The low down

Towers Rotana on Sheikh Zayed Road
971 2 343 8000

Starters 50-120 Dhs
Mains 80-290 Dhs
Special Japanese menu available. 

Brandon Stoltenkamp