The Venue Originally opened amid Toronto’s bustling restaurant scene in 2012, Weslodge Saloon’s Dubai branch on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel was launched this year, and has already won several industry awards.
The Design The entrance, via bright yellow doors (a nod to the original venue’s striking entrance), prepares diners for the unexpected. The space itself is deceptively large, with a long bar area and cosy alcoves – with great views of the Dubai Water Canal – leading to a formal dining room at the far end. Designed by Dubai-based firm Navigate, the venue bills itself as a modern saloon, cleverly incorporating the motifs of a traditional watering hole without giving way to kitsch.
Much of this is due to the quality of the decor and attention to detail: copies of 19th-century portraits stylishly combine with animal horns mounted above elegant wainscoting; aged cabinets display row upon row of white orchids, and curling brass candelabras flicker with light. Leather and velvet furnishings bring warmth to the scheme, while subtle floral cushions and a mulberry-hued banquette exude opulence, and prevent the saloon theme from becoming too masculine. The use of moody blue shades throughout is offset with classic parquet wood floors, all of which result in a restaurant that allows for eclectic but high-class design, without relying on novelty to set it apart.
The Experience Starters of delicate tuna ceviche and a smoky beef tartare – brought to life with black truffle and horseradish – sit beside lobster poutine, a traditional Canadian dish of fries decked in cheese curds and gravy, and elevated by succulent shellfish. Mains, including the award-winning fried chicken, are followed by desserts that also offer a fun take on homely North American favourites, from a molten peanut butter pudding with blueberry compote (a homage to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich) to s’mores, the campfire treat of crackers, chocolate and marshmallow, presented in special Weslodge style.
Weslodge Saloon effortlessly combines a sense of cool with classic Northern American charm – proving a unique and welcome addition to the UAE dining scene.
Images by: Aiza Castillo-Domingo