Ariana Bundy opened her debut restaurant in Atlantis The Royal earlier this year.
Atlantis The Royal is undoubtedly the grandest addition to the Dubai skyline in recent memory. And a hotel with the stature to command a private Beyoncé concert must have top-notch culinary options to match. With several offerings fronted by celebrity chefs, including Estiatorio Milos and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, we decided to venture into the Insta-worthy Ariana’s Persian Kitchen.
This extraordinary restaurant is the brainchild of the talented Iranian-American chef Ariana Bundy and celebrates Persian cuisine. It blends tradition with innovation, as the menu takes classic Iranian dishes and elevates them to new heights through modern twists in textures, ingredients, and presentations.
The restaurant’s interior is bursting with exquisite details, from the pink plush seating to the artfully designed marble Rose Bar, setting the tone for a memorable dining experience. Lavender hues and pistachio greens dance around you, evoking the very ingredients that form the core of Persian cuisine. The décor pays homage to Ariana’s historic home in Kashan, seamlessly blending her personal story with the essence of Iranian culture. The open kitchen features a copper tandoor that crafts freshly baked bread and the aroma alone is enough to whet your appetite!
Imagine settling into your seat and being transported to a serene garden terrace, where wooden daybeds offer a glimpse of the Dubai skyline. From the moment you sit down, you’ll notice more Iranian details etched into the cutlery, showcasing the dedication of the restaurant team to creating an authentic and immersive experience. And as you explore the menu, you’ll find a tantalising selection of dishes inspired by generations of family recipes. Impressed by the interiors and knowledge of the staff, we let the kitchen take charge of our dining experience.
Our culinary journey began with the Iranian palate cleanser — a delightful combination of walnuts and salt that awakens your senses. The first course included separate cold and hot mezze, featuring Mast O Khair (AED 45) — a yoghurt adorned with rose petals, pistachios, and cucumber — which is a delicate yet vibrant and refreshing start to the meal. The Original Sambuseh (AED 70) paid an ode to one of Iran’s signature dishes, combining rich meatiness with a sweet undertone from the pistachio – an unexpected kick that we enjoyed a lot. The sauce paired with the Sambuseh added a layer of complexity that elevated the dish to new heights. We also tried out the Doogh Ab Ali — a staple Iranian drink that’s basically sparkling laban – offering a respite from the Dubai heat outside.
Next, the mains arrived and the first of these was the Fesenjoon (AED 155) served in a traditional clay pot. This tender chicken stew made with walnuts and pomegranate, carried a smoky and nutty flavour that’s both intriguing and comforting. Pairing the stew was the Jeweled Rice (AED 55), adorned with saffron, pistachio, and dried berries. This explosion of colours and textures showcases Ariana’s ability to balance intricate flavours while also appealing to the eyes.
And then came the original superstar of Persian cuisine — the lamb. The Kabab Koobideh (AED 145) is the dish we were eagerly looking forward to and is also Iran’s national dish. Packed with a whole lot of flavour, this main is a must-order.
To wrap up this culinary adventure on a sweet note, we indulged in a Wild Orchid Ice Cream (AED 45) — a delightful fusion of wafers, crispy pistachio powder, rose water, saffron and nuts.
While the food is a celebration of creativity and tradition, no dining experience is complete without acknowledging the service. We were absolutely charmed by the staff’s extensive knowledge about every dish, its rich history, and the beautiful stories that Ariana has woven into them. However, in the midst of the dining frenzy during peak hours and the restaurant getting quite packed, the service suffered — a hiccup in an otherwise lovely dining experience.
With each dish carefully curated to evoke emotions and memories, Ariana’s Persian Kitchen is a must-visit for anyone seeking an immersive journey into Persian cuisine.
GO: Visit www.atlantis.com for more information.