Gluten free dining in Dubai

We flew to Dubai on Emirates an airline I can highly recommend. Flying economy for 6 hours was very comfortable. I  pre ordered a gluten free inflight meal. Because I have additional  food intolerances it makes eating on planes quite tricky. Yeast (wine, vinegar soy sauce etc ) and onions are not things you can avoid with inflight meals, sadly. The likelihood was that there would be very little I could eat.

With this in mind we grabbed breakfast at Rhubarb at terminal 3 Heathrow. A huge plate of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs was just the ticket.

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The 6 hr flight went very fast, helped by a great selection of up to date movies. The gluten free meal offered was simply cooked salmon with a few tiny squares of potato, I was very grateful for this.

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We stayed at the Mina A’Salam part of the Jumeirah resort in Dubai, a grand boutique hotel. The hotel is built in the traditional arabian style with waterways, souk and spa. During our stay we tried a selection of the restaurants in our hotel and the neighbouring hotels only a boat ride, walk or buggy ride away.

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On our first night we had dinner at La Parrilla at Jumeirah beach hotel just a short buggy ride away, along the edge of the beach front. Infront of the hotel is the famous Burj al Arab the sail shaped all suite hotel. A stunning looking structure set on an island just off the beach.

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La Parrilla is an Argentinian restaurant located on the 25th floor of the hotel.

After a cheeky Gin and Tonic we checked out the menu. Steak was an obvious choice, to have it with fries would be amazing but it was unlikely that I would be able to have it in the restaurant due to cross contamination. I passed my new business/intolerance card to the waitress and almost straight away the chef appeared asking how he could help. The argentinian chef went through the entire menu with me and gave me lots of alternatives for dinner. He offered to make me my own chips, fried separately. How could I refuse!

While we waited for our food we enjoyed spanish dancing and live music . For a starter I decided on two small tapas dishes manchego cheese with honey and stuffed peppers with avocado and cheese, both stunning.

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cheese and honey

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Stuffed peppers

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The fillet steak was the best I have ever tasted and it was very nice to have chips as a treat. I ordered a side of spinach and pine nuts which was delicious too. I felt very confident that the chef understood my needs, making the whole experience very enjoyable for Mr S and myself. So often we both end up stressed even before the food arrives. I can highly recommend La Parrilla

Sadly the only option for pudding if you are gluten intolerant or Coeliac is fruit,  I watched Mr S tuck into a delicious looking pudding. It would be good to see a gluten free option added to the menu or possibly a cheese board with celery and fig.

Our first morning in Dubai we were greeted by the bluest sky and turquoise sea from our balcony

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Time to check out the breakfast buffet, fingers crossed!

I wasn’t disappointed, separate stations for each type of food. Bread products right away from fresh fruit etc. Chef on hand to prepare eggs, no flour near by. A huge relief.

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2 egg omelette and smoked salmon with fresh fruit to start.

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You can choose to eat inside or outside looking out towards the sea. Just watch out for the crows that like to fly down when you leave your table unattended.

The safest choice for breakfast is definitely eggs with a choice of salmon , cheese or vegetables.

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Gluten free bread is available on request.

Dinner on the second evening was at Al Hambra in the Al Qasr hotel. What the restaurant lacked in atmosphere it made up for with its friendly helpful staff. Straight away the chef came out to see us and went through the menu ticking suitable choices. I was pleased to know that I could have paella.

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We started with tapas style garlic prawns and Serrano ham, followed by the paella it was a delicious meal and I would certainly return to this restaurant.

A good choice for lunch is Shimmers, a beach front restaurant with plenty of shade leading straight on to the sand. Once again after explaining to the waiter I had food intolerances the chef came straight out and we talked through what I could have.

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I chose Salmon with potato wedges cooked separately for me with a green salad.

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A pretty perfect setting for lunch!

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For our last evening in Dubai, a place which has totally surprised me and exceeded my expectations. We booked to eat dinner at Pierchic an extra special restaurant on a pier serving mainly seafood, dress code is smart elegant.

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A view looking down the pier.

Fortunately it was a still, warm evening  perfect for sitting outside. We took a short walk to the pier where we were seated looking out at Burj al Arab lit up along with many other buildings on the shore line. A full moon adding to the already beautiful view.

We had emailed the restaurant in advance and the chef came out straight away to talk through my intolerances. It turned out chef Rosalind Parsk came from Epsom very close to us in Surrey. She told us she had worked for Gordon Ramsey and Gary Rhodes Grosvenor house Dubai. Chef Rosalind went through the menu with us and I decided to order scallops to start followed by Atlantic cod with mash and green beans.

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There was one small mistake with my main course some pickled caper berries fortunately I spotted them so it wasn’t an issue. I did let the chef know at the end, as she came out to check if we had enjoyed everything.

I chose a cheese board for pudding as there was no option for a sweet dessert except fruit once again.

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Once again someone had added pickle to my cheese board, not to much of an issue but this does show how important it is to have good communication in the kitchens.

I would definitely eat at Pierchic again,  a lovely location for a special meal.

This sadly was only a short break on our way to Thailand, I could happily have stayed longer in Dubai. We visited the Burj al Khalifa, well worth a visit. The Dubai mall and the gold souk.

Weather was mixed but on the whole warm and sunny 22c with blue skiesDSC_0052

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Spice souk

Spice souk

Top tip – if you stay half or full board at Mina a’ Salam, you may be given meal vouchers. It is worth checking which restaurants you can use your vouchers for. Some like Pierchic do not accept vouchers for Dinner. Other restaurants accept vouchers for both lunch and dinner. Email ahead to mention food intolerances too. They do take note and are much more prepared when you arrive. If there are restaurants you are keen to try it is worth booking in advance.

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Worth asking for a room facing west over the canals as a new hotel is being built on the other side facing Burj al Arab

Whatever your food intolerance the hotels in the Jumeirah complex should be able to accommodate you. It appeared to me that they had a policy to send the chef out to make sure they can understand and cater for your needs.

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I’m sure we will return to Dubai and this hotel  sometime in the future. Whilst not a cheap option, the fact that we could eat out so easily in a range of restaurants with no worries was worth a great deal.

I would love to hear your experiences of eating out gluten free in Dubai.

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7 thoughts on “Gluten free dining in Dubai

  1. The meals look tasty but how much did they cost? I live in Dubai and my daughter and myself are newly diagnosed with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. I dread the first time we go out to eat, both, because of the possible cost and unknowing what to say to staff. How do you approach them and would receiving gluten free be possible at a restaurant like Hard Rock Cafe? It’s my daughter’s favourite place. We love the atmosphere.

    • The restaurants varied in price the Tapas was cheapest Pierchic most expensive. Our meals were included in the price of Hotel. I think any restaurant where the chef cooks from scratch will be fine . I wouldn’t personally eat at Hard Rock as too much chance of cross contamination. Worth following @glutenfreeuae on Twitter they have lots of tips . worth making up a business type card with your intolerances on to give to waiter to pass to chef . Also book in advance and mention gluten free then.
      All the very best
      Helen

  2. sounds fantastic Helen, you had some wonderful food. The times I have eaten in Dubai, they have bent over backwards to help me with my garlic allergy. Nothing is too much trouble. That seems to be the service culture in Dubai. Absolutely outstanding. When we’ve travelled there with Holly, it’s been the same. Gluten free was fantastic. She was in her element. If you go to Dubai again, go to Zuma. It’s absolutely incredible. I know that you and Holly don’t eat soy sauce but that’s not a problem. You mentioned the Gary Rhodes restaurant at Grosvenor House – I’ve eaten there when we stayed at Grosvenor House one. It is gorgeous. I want to try the restaurant on the pier that you went to….

    Let us know how you got on in Thailand.

    xxxx

  3. Great post! I just shared this with my readers. I was only in the Dubai airport on a layover to/from Thailand. Looks like next time I will have to take a few days to explore.

  4. This has been really good to read. I’m coeliac and off to Dubai with my family soon. What do you say to a chef once you’ve said you’re coeliac? What do you say about cross contamination? “I can’t eat wheat, oats, rye or barley. Please cook everything in a clean separate dishes? Many things have wheat in them such as soy sauce, corn flour and vinegar. Please check them before you use them?”

    • The chef was already knowledgeable about gluten free cooking but I did remind them to cook my food separately. They all talked me through what they were going to cook and how they were going to cook it , very helpful. never come across such helpful chefs before or since!

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