Think of a word to describe Dubai and chances are the first adjective that springs to mind won’t be ‘sensuous’. The virulent capitalism on steroids that courses through the veins of our desert domicile may make for plenty of excitement, but it leaves little scope for easing down a gear, psychologically ‘dimming the lights’ and letting nature run its course.
As such, a visit to somewhere as down tempo as The Exchange Grill is one to be treasured. This is no two-bit steakhouse churning out uniform hunks of meat for the masses. It’s a slow-burn beef epiphany that caresses the palate into raptures with a smooth adeptness reminiscent of a 70s soul loverman (together with meat rather than gold medallions). Having arrived alone and a little aloof after a wearying midweek, I probably wasn’t the easiest nut to crack, but the restaurant was ready with a guerrilla charm offensive destined to blitz my crabby defenses.
First I was deposited into a deep leather chair that was the very essence of ergonomic ecstasy. An amuse bouche of Olympian-sized curls of lightly fried sweet potatoes with a sour cream dip and separate mounds of mushroom and onion powder pulverised my increasingly pliant senses further. And, by the time my unfailingly courteous waiter had guided me through the menu and deposited a large glass of Chilean red in front of me, I was putty in the restaurant’s hands.