One for the sunset chasers.
In a city accustomed to culinary extravagance and an obsession with the world’s biggest and best, it’s easy to become blasé about yet another restaurant opening. Yet nothing could have prepared us for the arrival of chic Aegean spot, URLA and its premium location in Downtown Dubai.
Taking over the space formally occupied by Zeta at Address Downtown, URLA astounds diners from the moment they pass through its illuminated archway and onto the raised dais that makes up the majority of URLA’s sophisticated restaurant space. What is essentially a large al fresco terrace provides one of the best views of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains from an elevated vantage point away from the hubbub of The Dubai Mall below.
URLA is understated with rustic hints, cosy warm tones and a spirited yet welcoming ambience. As night falls, URLA transitions into a place to see and be seen. The terrace is also home to the ‘Tree of Lights’, an installation that has been transported from the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock desert and into the desert city of Dubai. The only creation of its kind in the Middle East is a focal point of the restaurant, with the illuminated tree reacting to the soundtrack of ambient beats via a combination of 16 million colours.
There’s a distinct playfulness to dining at URLA. Beguiling cocktails are served within glassware designed to resemble bulbous jellyfish and food is elaborately plated to showcase premium ingredients. A selection of fresh fish and crustacea lie on a bed of ice, waiting to be selected and cooked to your preference.
Combined with the view, we’re pleased to discover URLA’s unique culinary offering that strays from the expected choices of burrata and fritto misto. Instead, the menu is efficiently divided into two sections representing the best of land and sea, boasting a collection of appealing dishes that draw inspiration from the Aegean coasts of Spain, Greece and the West of Turkey.
URLA’s fresh take on traditional dishes includes a boujee Caviar Brioche (AED 320), adorning three dainty pieces of toasted butter brioche with heaps of glistening caviar that delivers a decadent buttery mouthful. Seafood lovers will relish the Shrimp Kiss (AED 180), which adds caviar to a trio of deep-fried croquettes, generously filled with shrimp to perfectly reflect the name of the dish. The signature Seabass Ceviche (AED 105) offers a little more heat than we expected. It is artfully plated amidst crispy sweet potato, cancha corn and leche de tigre, resulting in a tasty textural marvel. URLA’s Iberian Cured Beef (AED 140), served with roasted cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts, is a winning dish for the carnivorous.
Whether ‘sharing the mountain’ or ‘sharing the sea’ URLA’s main courses offer a tempting selection of seafood and meats, ranging from Grilled Seabass (AED 210) and Linguine Lobster (AED 270) through to Braised Beef Rib (AED 250) and USDA Prime Dry-Aged Bone-In Ribeye (AED 950). We’re immediately enamoured by the Monkfish Skewer (AED 160), a fish that is not common on Dubai menus. Here the delicate subtleties of the fish are enhanced by the accompanying Padrón peppers and garlic chips. Elsewhere, the tender Lamb Shank (AED 275) presents fall-off-the-bone meat plated upon a hearty celery root purée and roasted vegetables.
Ending the evening on a sweet note, the Golden Torrija is a choice worthy of URLA’s magnificent location. The classic Spanish dessert features soft bread immersed in cinnamon and milk, decorated with gold leaf and vanilla ice cream.
What is easily one of the most stylish spots in town is ideal for couples and groups looking to admire the sound and light show across the world’s tallest building while tucking into contemporary coastal Aegean cuisine with an artisanal twist.
GO: Follow @urla on Instagram for reservations and more information.