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Du-Try: Burger & Lobster Dubai

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I always do three obligatory things (incidentally, all food-based) within the first 24 hours of me being back in London. The first is have an enormous cuppa in my mum’s kitchen, where the tea is and always will be the best on earth. The second is sit in the window of Pret on Conduit Street (glamour) and eat the lunch I had every day for about three years – the Chef’s Special chicken salad. I’d like to say it’s some kind of transcendental mindfulness technique to remind me how far I’ve come/ to always sit and reflect, but it isn’t. It’s just cos it’s a really good salad. Ask me about it. I will talk to you about the lack of pistachios in all other salads.

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Anyway, the third mandatory back-in-town manoeuvre is making a beeline for the foodie hotspot where dreams are made, Burger & Lobster. Their lobster rolls are like a hug; one of the most satisfying things to eat in the capital, and that includes a salt beef and mustard bagel at 3am from Beigel Bake. So when they announced that it was opening out here in the dustbowl, I was more than a little excited, even if it did mean I’d have to leave a gaping hole in my London repertoire.

The worry was, would it be as good as the original? The buttery brioche loaf, incredible mayo-covered Atlantic lobster filling and salad dressing of legend? Them’s big shoes to fill.

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In a nutshell, whoever is in charge of copycatting the menu has done a damn fine job – if I took a bite and closed my eyes it was like I was back on Dean Street. A teleportation device, right there in DIFC. Good work, guys.

Du-Try: The Collective at Grand Hyatt

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How long do you reckon it takes living in Dubai before you become ruinously spoilt? Not necessarily in a princessy, I-can’t-make-my-own-bed kind of sense (although that, too, happens to the best of us), but in a culinary vein, where if you’re presented with less than 35 different types of eggs at brunch that you turn your nose up and wonder where it all went wrong. I’d hazard about six months. So to be genuinely impressed after that (and I’ll be really honest here) is quite a rarity. The Collective, a new restaurant in the Grand Hyatt, however, is one of those places that makes your heart beat that little bit faster. No mean feat.

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I’ll lay my cards on the table. It’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had. I know, I know. It sounds like I’m either a) doing the PR for the place and/ or b) I’ve been bribed to say it changed my life. Neither of those things are true. Firstly, this is no cookie-cutter, traditional hotel breakfast. Four different connected restaurants in one allow you to wander through, buffet-style, heaping your plate with things from the boutique bakery, Levantine Emporium, Indian cafe and grill bar – all for Dhs135. Dishes are served up in mismatched pots and pans, on cake stands and giant trays, giving it an eclectic, street food-style energy. Not only is the actual food incredible and all made on-site (we watched the madeleines and croissants being baked and then served to us hot from the oven), but the buzz is contagious. At every station there’s a least one chef from the region to give it a real authentic, home-made flavour, and they are the friendliest, sweetest bunch of people I’ve come across in a long time.

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Special shout out to the healthy pancakes (made with egg white, banana, oats and honey), cheese shawarma served on Turkish bread with honey (complete with honeycomb) and exceptional coffee. I’ll be back for lunch (and dinner most likely. AND probably the Friday brunch). Basically, if you can’t find me – I’ll be there.

Du-Try: The Farm

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One of the best things about Dubai (aside from the tax-free living, constant sunshine and ridiculous shopping – but I won’t bang on about that, don’t worry), is the endless array of gastro hotspots that seem to spring up in the desert on an almost weekly basis. Some cheery soul told me the other day that if something disastrous happened and we were to stop getting food imported, that we would run out in 2 weeks. I had two responses to this: one, eat everything, quickly, in the manner of preparing for the apocalypse. And two, look for restaurants that serve locally-sourced produce so if the aforementioned does happen, I’d know exactly where to make a beeline for. A cunning plan, no?

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The Farm, a delightfully bucolic eaterie out in the sticks of Al Barari, was first on my list; set up almost like a retreat and looking absolutely nothing like the rest of Dubai’s glass-and-gloss veneer. Zen-like, surrounded by nature and with a strong back to basics vibe, it was nonetheless luxurious and boasted an extensive menu (on iPads, no less). In a town where organic food is gaining popularity (welcome to the 21st Century, Dubs) but can still be tricky to track down, The Farm’s dedication to it is totally welcome.

Aside from a pretty impressive Thai menu (prawn lemongrass salad, roasted duck red curry with pineapple and grape), is the hearty European offering. We tucked into tenderloin with foie gras pastie and basil mash and white chocolate creme brulee – every bit as deadly as it sounds. The live jazz was a nice backdrop to dinner but I’d imagine the airy vibe lends itself really well to a weekend breakfast that feels more like you’ve escaped to Provence rather than actually in the desert somewhere. In fact, I can’t wait to go back to try their gluten-free almond blueberry pancakes and pistachio and raspberry waffles. Yes, both of them. What? Don’t look at me like that. A girl’s gotta eat.

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The Farm, Al Barari, Opposite Falcon City (thefarmdubai.com)