If you are driving older family members (I recently did as my granny then parents were here on a visit) or friendly business colleagues to Dubai International Airport around lunchtime or in the afternoon, brunch or late lunch at Choix at the Intercontinental Festival City is a guaranteed delight. The cafe and patisserie by renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire offers a changing menu of starters, salads, sandwiches and dishes, all with a special Choix touch: for example, the Gagnaire salad surprises you with aloe vera cubes added to the tender pieces of marinated chicken, lettuce, chives, croutons, while the Tartare’s succulent hand cut meat hides small pieces of cheese – and the marriage of flavours unexpectedly works! The famous American Mac and Cheese is turned French by mixing very small, tender pasta bits (Crozet pasta) with cream and Roblochon cheese. Make sure to specify to the staff you are headed to the airport since service can sometimes be slow, and ask for your car ahead of time as the hotel valet service is unfortunately not up to standard.
Your guests might be younger and looking for a more chilled meal, or prefer a quick junk food fix. Give them one last glimpse of Burj Khalifa from Johnny Rockets on the service road off Sheikh Zayed Road before their midday, afternoon or evening flight. The cozy all-American diner is famous for its delicious milkshakes, malts and floats. The mini burgers are ideal to indulge while keeping portions small, while the chili bowl and chili cheese fries are a guilty but not-to-be-missed pleasure. A large selection of burgers, hotdogs and sandwiches will ensure everyone’s preferences are met. The Route 66 and Smokehouse burgers are a must for those who can stand a heavier meal before their flight.
Night flights can be trickier; you’ll either go out for drinks and head to the airport straight -for which we recommend delicious cocktail creations at Siddharta Lounge, the Grosvenor House, if you’re on that side of town- or the last few hours will be rather melancholic, with your guests wanting one last “Arabic” experience before heading back home. In that case, have dinner at Zaroob (or “small alley”), a concept inspired by Levant street food. The charming restaurant is decorated with cans and boxes of old brands some of us grew up with (Chiclets, Chocomax, Bonjus) on wooden shelves and the iconic face of Um Kulthoum on the walls. When the weather is bearable, food is also served at the outdoors space which actually looks like a small alley! Zaroob is reminiscent of old streets and markets in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Palestine, and the menu is based on dishes from those countries. Definitely try the man’oushe whether saj or flat (especially the Lahem B Ajeen with Pomegranate Molasses), the beef or chicken shawarma (gyro for our Western readers out there), the Foul and the Fattet Hommous. An American friend of mine was visiting recently and wasn’t too sure about venturing in this type of food before going to the airport: I insisted she try the meat shawarma, and apparently, she is now obsessed with it. Mission accomplished!
Remember, if you’re flying business on Emirates, keep some space for their award-winning on-board cuisine!