Last week, I was invited to try out the newly-opened restaurant at Grand Hyatt Dubai: The Collective.
The Collective’s clever concept
Divided into four cuisines and stations described as ‘Levant Emporium’, ‘Bombay Café’, ‘Grill Bar’ and – my favourite – ‘Boutique Bakery’, the restaurant’s layout leads you through a culinary journey of flavours (however cliché that may sound!).
The concept was briefly explained to my dining partner and I as we arrived at the restaurant, but we were still a little unsure. So, after ordering our drinks, we began exploring the food on offer. Nearing the end of our meal, the ideology was properly explained to us by the manager, which made it much clearer and we wished we’d understood it from the beginning – better late than never!
The restaurant is slightly reminiscent of an all day dining restaurant often found in hotels, with a wide variety of speciality dishes and food to tuck into. However, the difference we found with The Collective was the concept of offering (mainly) freshly-cooked and prepared dishes – rather than leaving ready-made food to go stale for hours, which is what is usually found at all day dining restaurants (though we did find some of these).
The meal and money
After perusing the fare at each station, I began with some vegetable pasta from the Grill Bar station – I was going to tuck into some French fries too, but saw a man picking at them without using the tongs, so I swiftly gave them a miss! There was also a salad station that – the manager later told us – followed the freshly-made food concept, whereby the chefs whip up a salad with your choice of veggies and leafy greens, and a dressing of your choice (there are loads to choose from).
For ‘mains’ I did a bit of mixing from various stations with some freshly-made falafels and bread from the Levant Emporium area, a little bit of roast chicken from the Grill Bar and some rice from the Iconic Bombay Café. Something important to note, which the manager also told us, was that the meat on display is ‘half-cooked/semi-raw’ and you are supposed to tell the chefs at the station which pieces you want cooked. He mentioned that some guests had taken these without having them cooked and then complained – in fairness, it isn’t written anywhere on the Grill Bar’s station, so the chefs need to be extra-attentive to ensure you don’t help yourself to any. However, during our visit the chefs were eager to help and cooked up a storm in the open kitchen, providing a delicious selection of seafood (king prawns, crab and more) and meat for my guest, who couldn’t believe the brilliant deal.
You see, dinner at The Collective on weekdays costs Dhs199 for unlimited food and soft drinks, and when this includes freshly-cooked meat, seafood, breads and other dishes, you realise that a meal here is great value for money – especially considering the price of normal dishes at restaurants, where you can pay Dhs100+ for a single dish. Now, here is where I confess that I’m a bit strange as I’m mostly a vegetarian, but eat chicken on rare occasions. While there was a good vegetarian selection, I feel meat eaters are the ones who can truly get value for money out of The Collective’s deal – you’d be mad not to try it at least once.
However, I definitely made the most of the dessert section/Boutique Bakery where I enjoyed a freshly-made crepe filled with Nutella. I don’t know what they put in that batter, but I’ve tried many-a-crêpe and this was by far the best (I felt a little resentful sharing half with my dining partner, but shh!). You also must try the little coconut cake pieces they had, I could’ve eaten about five but limited myself to two because I was beginning to feel rather full. Though next time, I’d probably save more space for the desserts because there was a ridiculous amount of choice with banana cake, tarts, fresh fruit and more. The Boutique Bakery was my favourite station appearance-wise too, with gorgeous pastel-hued baking bowls and vibrant desserts on display.
So as you’ve probably gathered, I’d definitely return to the restaurant, especially after the manager informatively explained the concept to me in detail. I think my dining partner wished we could return weekly, so that they could basically eat up the ocean’s population by taking advantage of the unlimited grilled seafood.
I loved the décor at The Collective, with a variety of seating areas all in different styles and surroundings. As you enter, you’re given the option to sit at tables by the lush greenery in the centre of the Grand Hyatt’s lower level, but we sat in one of the booths that overlooked the Grill Bar’s grilling area – you get hungry very quickly at these seats, and you’re conveniently located right at the heart of the restaurant with easy access to food!
Though the concept was a little confusing at first, now that I fully understand it, I love it. A chef at the Levant Emporium told me that sometimes guests complained about how long food took, but I’d rather wait a few extra minutes (and trust me, it didn’t take long at all) for freshly-cooked food rather than eating lukewarm stale food. It’s a clever format that makes a great addition to Dubai’s dining scene, which I think we should see more of in the future.
The waiters, chefs and managers are extremely attentive, friendly and great to talk to – a welcome change from many of Dubai’s almost-robotic staff. While we drooled over our crêpe being made, we had a lovely chat with the lady creating our calorific masterpiece, and before heading back to our table the manager also spoke to us. I could see his passion for the restaurant, his love of its food and its guests. He was honest, funny and truly cared about each guest’s experience, rather than looking at diners as mere customers.
There were still a number of dishes we weren’t able to sample as there’s only so much you can indulge in, in one visit. So, I’m keen to visit again to give the rest a try – and I need another one of those crêpes! I’d highly recommend this restaurant if you have guests visiting, or for a family meal as there’s plenty of choice for adults and little ones (especially in the Boutique Bakery!). For more information and to book a table, call 04 317 2221 or visit the website here.
I hope you enjoyed this post.
Thanks for reading!
Though The Collective had myself and my dining partner as guests for the evening, I will always be completely honest in my reviews on this blog. Though I prefer to use my own photography in my blog posts, pictures were provided by the restaurant. The restaurant was quite dark and my personal pictures didn’t reflect the food as I would have liked it to!