Can Club Vista Mare’s new restaurant win over Dubai?
Stepping into someone else’s shoes is always difficult. Whether it’s new leads in Dr Who, The Crown or, of course, James Bond, everyone has their own opinion. So, when Ría announced that it was coming to Club Vista Mare and taking over the site of the much-loved Breeze, the pressure was well and truly on. Spoiler alert: it succeeds.
We visited Ría on the first day of its soft opening and found it to be an already well balsamic and olive oiled machine. The Mediterranean concept has been created by Addmind Hospitality (aka the company behind Babylon, Clap, Raspoutine and Sucre) and draws inspiration from nature and the sea. Fittingly, the name comes from the Spanish word for small river and is similar to the rías that flow through the branches of Palm Jumeirah.
Ría has created a laidback luxe experience, but at affordable prices. The sophisticated space boasts gorgeous greenery, floor-to-ceiling windows and a beach-inspired design, which helps set the mood. Look out for the seashell designs, from the cream and orange shell shapes on the wall to the shell motifs on the bar.
We’d recommend starting indoors and ending outdoors, especially at a table directly facing the view spanning Burj Al Arab to Business Towers. On our visit, the tables on the beach and terrace are buzzing, and furry friends are more than welcome.
Ría’s main menu includes nibbles, salads, hot starters, pastas, pizzas and grills. The fish counter serves fried, grilled and raw dishes. Plus, there is a maki and raw menu, and a dedicated kid’s menu.
The service is exceptional from the get-go, so much so that when our napkin falls on the floor, we instantly receive a replacement. Plus, when the bread basket is noteworthy, you know you’re in for a treat. The bread is served warm and the oil dip is created tableside with a freshly cut lemon.
Thankfully, it’s all about sharing plates, which means you won’t suffer FOMO. The starters are healthy yet hip, bringing together unexpected combinations and presentations. The Watermelon and Feta Katafi gives a watermelon salad an upgrade, as it creates a watermelon sandwich with a cheese filling.
The only time the staff slip is when they miss a dish: the Blueberry and Feta Salad. We sampled this when we visited for a first look and found it to be a surprising success. It came chef recommended, and the blueberries, mint and radish left us craving more.
If you’re looking for Mediterranean staples, you can’t go wrong with the moreish Aubergine Fritters, oh-so fresh Mizuna and Grilled Corn Salad, and soft as well as sweet Roasted Bell Pepper Salad. Plus, the supersized Sea Bass, which came from Spain, was cut at the table into sharing portions.
The drinks menu spans 15 signature cocktails, which include Amaretto Sour, Aperol Spritz, Bellini and Manhattan. Plus, there are Lyre-based non-alcoholic cocktails and a dedicated smoothie bar. So, there are plenty of options to be shaken and stirred.
Ria, you just pulled a Daniel Craig (or should we say Idris Elba).
GO: Follow @riarestaurantbar on Instagram for more information.