The Grub Shack has finally opened in Dubai (alright, it opened a couple of weeks ago but I’ve only just been).
It’s all grown up now, leaving its laid-back shackiness (is that even a word?) in Sharjah where the original was once based.
This new place, whilst well decorated, funky and instantly comfortable, is a lot more upmarket and…um, more expensive too.
Set-up and run by husband and wife dynamic-duo, Mario and Gemma, the Grub Shack menu is a collection of handpicked favourites from a life-long culinary adventure (within India and beyond) which they’ve been on since their youth. Passionate foodies, wherever they went, what they ate and liked, they have recreated on this colourful menu. Every single dish has a story as delicious as the dish itself.
Yet the ‘Shack is also one of Dubai’s homeliest, casual dining propositions. Homely because Gemma, herself an amazing cook, personally oversees everything in the kitchen. Mario assured me, “what we serve you is what we eat at home”.
I can vouch for Gemma’s beef roast, which I was recommended to try for exactly this reason. Although drier than I expected, it was very special indeed (and something I recommend you try). Mario offered me one of the Elaichi Malai Lamb Chops he was having with some other guests at another table; it was unbelievably tender and hugely flavoursome. I loved the ‘Shack’s take on PF Chang’s Dynamite Shrimp, which are called Firecracker Prawns – boom!
If the food at the Grub Shack is (very) good, the service is better. Smiles are genuine and free of franchise robotics. And what they lack in five star fuss, and achtung professionalism (and there are a couple of things they do lack), they make up for in simple old school friendliness. I simply loved the honest, unadulterated imperfection of it all.
And there’s live music too. A little bird told me that Mario was once a bushy haired, bad-ass bass player. I’m also told, after a couple of their amazing mocktails, he can (sometimes) still be coaxed into playing a song or six. The music, a mix of old and new; jazz, blues and rock, is always good and gets livelier as the afternoon strums to evening…and beyond. So, stop reading all this rubbish and get out there…