How do you even begin to describe Anthony Bourdain? Best-selling author. Celebrity chef. Culinary rockstar. TV personality. Travel documentarian. Globetrotter. Or ‘legend’ if you want to stay succinct. Now, as Focus Features gears up to release Roadrunner – an emotionally charged documentary chronicling his highs and lows – in cinemas across America tomorrow, we’re exploring how Anthony Bourdain fans in Dubai can celebrate his life until we await a worldwide release: a meal at all the restaurants he visited during his 2010 trip to Dubai.
The host of travel and food show No Reservations famously made his way around the city for the 19th episode of season 6, dining on everything from chicken tikka to blanquette of veal cheek. He wasn’t entirely wrong when he described Dubai’s food scene as “extravagant restaurants catering to the rich and super-rich”, but was objective enough to try it all – humble food shacks and celebrity chef institutions included. Here they are at a glance.
Time and time again, the carbon footprint of Ski Dubai has come into question, and Bourdain did just that while riding a chairlift before heading to Avalanche Café for a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. Located at the midway mark on the slope, this popular pit stop has everything you’d want in a café located amidst a winter wonderland: sweet and savoury crepes, an outdoor terrace boasting views of the slopes, and even an open (albeit artificial) fireplace.
Bait Al Mandi
In search of hearty, comforting Arabic food, Bourdain ended up at the Al Diyafah Street branch of Bait Al Mandi with two young Emiratis in tow, joyfully eating mandi – a meat and rice dish originating in Yemen – with his bare hands. Oh, and if the two men look familiar, it’s because they’re recognisable figures in their own right. Bourdain was hosted by brothers Mohamed and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, who used to star in their own TV travel series, Peeta Planet.
Whoever says Anthony Bourdain put Bu Qtair on the map is mistaken. This beach-shack-turned-seafood-restaurant had people lining up for a table long before he and his film crew arrived. It continues to operate in a humble setting on a first-come, first-served basis despite its location in the shadow of Burj Al Arab. Bourdain, like other diners, sat on a brightly coloured plastic stool in the sand back in 2010 (Bu Qtair got a makeover in 2016), raving about the catch of the day. He dined on grouper fish and fried prawns alongside flaky paratha and a creamy coconut curry.
“You don’t come to Ravi for the décor, you come for the food,” said Bourdain of this beloved Pakistani restaurant that opened the first of its many branches back in 1978. And 11 years later, that statement still stands true. Do as the icon did, and order a portion of mutton curry, chicken tikka, and dal – at the original Satwa outpost, of course.
“What’s more Dubai than a Gordon Ramsay restaurant?” quipped Bourdain as he sampled a selection of quail and mushroom pithivier with confit and celeriac remoulade. The upscale eatery at Hilton Dubai Creek served modern European cuisine and was the first overseas restaurant to be opened by Ramsay, but closed its doors in 2011, replaced by the now-defunct Table 9. Looking to follow in Bourdain’s footsteps? Head to Bread Street Kitchen & Bar and Hell’s Kitchen for a taste of the foul-mouthed chef’s culinary empire.