The hotel had two a la carte restaurants; L’Olivio Italian Ristorante and a beachfront seafood restaurant. We tried both and the majority of the menu was included with the ‘Ultra All Inclusive’ package that we booked.
Our evening in L’Olivio didn’t get off to the best start. We headed down from our room, me in a dress, Lee in a smart shirt and chino style shorts just below the knee. We were promptly told that men must wear long trousers, so back upstairs we went. When we were seated, we noted that many of the other gents were in t-shirts and cargo style bottoms – much more casual, but long length. So the dress policy (which we weren’t told about in advance) is enforced, but doesn’t make a lot of sense to me! I’ve since written a blog on what to wear in Dubai, as the dress code in downtown is very different to many overseas countries.
Anyway, once we were seated, I was pleased to find a varied menu and wine list. There was so much choice, we decided on four courses each.
To start, we both opted for the beed carpaccio. It set my expectations for the evening – great presentation and exquisite, authentic Italian flavours. My favourite!
We were off to a strong start. Service so far had been prompt too. The restaurant also had a lady playing calming, live music, giving a nice ambiance.
For the ‘primi’ course, I chose the seafood risotto, whilst Lee decided on the lasagne with rabbit.
The risotto dish had a lot of seafood and was really tasty. The rabbit lasagne also went down a treat – two empty plates! At this point, we were doubting our 4-course choice. The portions had been a very healthy size and the main was yet to come!
For our main (or ‘secondi’) course, we had both opted for filetto porcini; grilled beef tenderloin, arancini and porcini sauce. As main dishes go, this is right up my street!
Arancini always takes me back to a cosy place we found just off St Marks Square in Venice, where we sampled about 4 different flavours of arancini and now whenever I see it on a menu I’m drawn to it! Serve it with steak and porcini mushrooms (another favourite of mine, and a great combination) and what could go wrong?!
Answer: Nothing. The main course was great. The only slightly disappointing factor was the wait – about 50 minutes from the pasta dishes being cleared. Far too long. The only redeeming factors were that the wine was flowing and when the steak was served, it was lovely!
So far, so good, but dessert is is where things got a little farcical.
We were given the dessert menu, but no one came to take our order. There was some confusion at the next table. Then the restaurant manager came over, presented us with two desserts and may as well have said ‘ta dah!’. He made clear that he knew we hadn’t ordered them, and it was all very odd. The desserts he’d bought over were a chocolate cake and a tiramisu. Neither of us like tiramisu, so we politely declined and he quickly replaced it with a panna cotta with strawberry compote. The desserts were nice – nothing spectacular, but a nice finish to the meal. Although, I’d have preferred actually being asked what we’d like rather than the waiter second-guessing!
It was also about this time, that the entertainment changed and a band (2 girls and 3 guys, with drum kit and guitars) began performing for the 6-or-so tables that were in the restaurant. Whilst the band were decent, their performance was more set up for a large crowd and given the limited audience, it was a little odd.
The service though, went to another level, when a nearby table ordered the ‘L’Olivio Memory’; a ‘live performance dessert by the L’Olivio chef’. A chef came out to ‘perform’ the dessert, which consisted of placing a mirror onto the table, a chocolate sphere onto the middle and then creating a pattern using drizzled chocolate, marshmallows and other edible delights. It cumulated in the central chocolate sphere being smashed open. Whilst this ‘performance’ was going on, another staff member was videoing it on a mobile phone, obviously for the hotel and not the customers. An experience indeed!
Overall, I’d give the food quality, presentation and taste top marks. However, the service was very mixed!
This was the best food we had during our short stay in Dubai and the fact it was all included within the ‘ultra all inclusive’ package we’d booked at Rixos the Palm made it even better – it far exceeded my expectations for food included within the room package. A few small improvements on the service side would make this a great restaurant.