Having spent a lot of time in the UAE, and previously enjoyed a stay at Burj Al Arab, I knew its outlets expensive. Over the NY I was showing my elderly Mum around and took her to Al Muntaha so she could experience both the Burj interior and Gulf views. The arrival at Al Qasr was great with an abra ride along the Jumeirah canal, then to be met by a buggy for causeway transfer to the Burj. We were greeted in the foyer and sent in the right direction. It was good to see after 10 years the interior of the landmark Burj is holding its wow factor as I had thought the surreal gaudy interior would date quickly. The glass lift ride to the top is part of the experience and we were greeted on arrival although the reception seemed a bit overwhelmed by a group of pushy chinese who arrived early, and at the same time as us. We were shown to the bar and a lovely Italian hostess took our cocktail order. She was knowledgeable, attentive, engaging, friendly and in our visit, the highlight of the staff. Shortly after we were shown to our table. We ordered a bottle of NV champagne from the list before opting for the business lunch comprising a choice of entree, main and dessert. We selected matching wines by the glass. The meals were served in a timely fashion and well presented, however were lesser quality than to be expected for a supposedly signature outlet in the much heralded Burj. None of us ate all our main courses (fish) which was overcooked and rubbery. Both desert offerings were had variously and although snappy looking, lacked flavour or substance. Apart from the fish, there was nothing wrong with the meals, they were just ordinary and even just a week later, I cannot remember what the entree was. One gripe is the venue not offering water unless diners purchase it by the bottle at 50 Dhs a go for the same thing that can be bought for 3 Dhs in the local store. Dubai has world's best practice cleaned and treated desalinated water which is perfectly safe to drink. Not to offer plain water is just opportunistic gouging and a practice I see spreading more widely and Trip Advisor is one of the sites where consumers have an opportunity to push-back and let operators know it is unacceptable and plain greedy. We finished with coffee which was unremarkable. Overall the wait-employees were functionary and disengaged. I cannot say whether this was lack of cultural sophistication, whether they were just too busy, or they have been directed to remain detached from interaction with diners, but a little more small talk or explaining the menu and options would go a long way. At the end of the day we got what we went for - to show off the Burj, and see a sunny day Gulf view. At over AUD/US$730 for lunch for 3, I couldn't see punters who are foodies would go here more than once in a lifetime, or on really special occasions for a silver service Burj experience as the tucker quality and cost have no relationship. The Burj is just one of a growing list of gleaming examples of how the Emeratis have turned a meager oil supply into a great self-fulfilling tourism product. You need to book months out, pay overt prices and to some extent they dictate when you can come. They must be congratulated for this and how they have transformed their small town into the world's most amazing new city, but it wouldn't kill them just to ensure the bang goes with the buck and deliver the word 'fine' ahead of the word 'dining' at the prices they command.
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