So this is where art, camels and comfort food collide

The Cheeky Camel opens in JLT this week.

Raise your hand if you think the Dubai dining scene can feel a little uptight. Luckily, a new eatery is easing things up, starting with pop art depictions of The Beatles, Nelson Mandela and Mona Lisa clad in regional attire, booth seating upholstered in traditional sadu fabric, and camel murals at every turn. Aptly named The Cheeky Camel, the JLT-based restaurant pairs European favourites with Middle Eastern flavours, culminating in a menu packed with comfort food.

cheeky camel

Split over two levels, the laidback venue is located at Bonnington Hotel and caters to everyone from groups of friends out for afternoon drinks and bar bites or families looking to feast on unexpected dishes inspired by the classics. And just in time for cooler weather is a terrace that’s perfect for sundowners, complete with views of Dubai’s ever-changing architectural skyline. At The Cheeky Camel, bar nibbles include savoury doughnuts filled with zaatar and feta cheese mousse, smoked mozzarella ciabatta with garlic and truffle oil, and crudités with kale and sunflower seed hummus. Elsewhere on the menu is a variety of comfort food – think: chipotle chicken wings, lamb meatballs, wood-fired pizza and steak with twice-cooked chips – alongside superfood salads of quinoa or heritage baby beets, plus butternut ravioli and a spicy roasted cauliflower dish for those keeping on the healthy side.

Other unmissable dishes include juicy pork chops from the beloved British Butcher Shop, a charcuterie plate that’s designed for sharing, and chargrilled tiger prawns with tastebud-tingling smoked paprika and garlic butter. Local produce, meanwhile, is championed by way of Dibba Bay oysters – grilled or on ice. To finish, you can choose from a cheese board, a traditional peach Melba, or cheesecake rooted in the beloved Lotus Biscoff spread. Inventive cocktails await over at the bar and feature unexpected ingredients such as cardamom-honey syrup and Seville orange marmalade. The Cheeky Camel’s menu is the brainchild of award-winning chef Derek Flynn and Khaled Hassan, both of whom took inspiration from classic European dishes and combined them with local produce and regional flavours. 

cheeky camel

Flynn, who’s been a mainstay of the city’s culinary scene for over a decade, said: “The Cheeky Camel brings to life the very best in classic European bistro and brasserie cuisine and gives it a touch of Dubai and the Middle East. Myself and Khaled are delighted to get the restaurant and bar open at a time of great energy in the city – to give people who live here and tourists from around the world a brilliant food and drink experience.” Hassan, who started his career in his home country of Syria and rose to acclaim in Paris, credited Flynn’s creativity by saying: “I think there is nobody better than Derek in taking brilliant and bold traditional dishes and giving them a modern edge. It’s been a pleasure to look at how we can then influence the menu with the local scene in Dubai and around the region.”

GO: Visit or call 04 356 0574 for reservations and more information.

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Samia Qaiyum
A textbook third culture kid with a perpetual thirst for adventure, Samia Qaiyum specialises in travel and culture, having lived in five countries and travelled to 34 others – just don't ask her to define the word 'home'.

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