Outlet 360: Firelake Grill House and Cocktail Bar

The concept within the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront in Business Bay offers American food
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OUTDOOR: Furniture by Sharjah’s Intermetal.
ITP Images
OUTDOOR: Furniture by Sharjah’s Intermetal.

Front of house

FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar is the sister restaurant to the original concept born out of Minneapolis, USA — where the Radisson Hotel Group is originally based. Restaurant manager Jarret Van Zyl tells Caterer Middle East: “For the concept of the restaurant, we have a great American influence but we also have some local influence too.”

The restaurant’s vast outdoor terrace overlooks Downtown Dubai providing sweeping views of the Dubai Water Canal and Burj Khalifa. The terrace can easily seat up to 400 people and on the inside, there’s table space for up to 100 guests.

In terms of ambience, Van Zyl says the restaurant, with a staff of 20, is trying to create a family-oriented atmosphere: “We are trying to be different, by giving an at-home feel. We want to create that feeling you have when you come home or are with old mates. That’s what separates us from the rest within the area.”

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While the styling of the restaurant borrows from the main concept of the contemporary grill house, Van Zyl says they used a local designer and suppliers. Interiors were furnished by Meroni, while outdoor furniture was sourced from Sharjah’s Intermetal. The lighting from Clarity Lighting is modern, yet elegant, and includes a couple of circular chandeliers spread across the main restaurant and private dining rooms. Cutlery was sourced from Restofair RAK, tiles from DCE’s marble division and the subtle art pieces adorning the walls came from Mermaid Gallery.

To create the relaxed ambience Van Zyl mentioned earlier, he says the restaurant offers live music on Thursday evenings. The hotel hosts a weekend brunch that differs from a traditional buffet. “It’s family-style eating, plated and put down on tables. Guests choose from an unlimited amount of small plates and one main course,” he explains. As for the beverages, Van Zyl points out that there will be drink stations on the outdoor terrace offering crafted cocktails and a wide-variety of drinks. He also adds that the restaurant will feature a happy hour daily from 4-8pm.

While the restaurant has plenty to offer, Van Zyl says there are still challenges in Dubai: “There are so many restaurant choices, so being the one that’s different is difficult.” But that, he concludes, is what drives him: “That’s my main focus — giving really good customer service and memorable experiences."

Back of house

Cluster executive chef Adam Tracey, who brings almost 25 years of hospitality experience to his role at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar, says the restaurant’s cuisine can be defined as: “Refined, casual modern-American.”

While there are several Firelake outlets located in multiple cities around the world, Tracey tells Caterer Middle East that there’s no standard menu, which he states gives space for “chefs and restaurant managers to put their own spin on it”.

Tracey explains: “Once you’ve got the dishes on the menu that you would recognise as having a North American influence, there’s lot of coriander, sumac, yoghurt and chickpeas, so you do feel that there’s a touch of the Middle East in it. We’ve got a great tuna ceviche and we’ve done a take on lamb ribs in quite a typical US-style but using lamb steaks.”

However, he points out that even though the restaurant’s menu is mostly American-inspired, featuring traditional dishes like steaks and burgers, FireLake is not a steakhouse: “Obviously, FireLake does give a nod towards steaks, but we don’t want to be seen solely as a steakhouse. We have a great section on the menu, but it’s not something we are shouting about,” he adds, stating that what works in North America might not necessarily work for an audience in Dubai.

In terms of sourcing ingredients for the restaurant, Tracey says a lot of it is imported due to the “nature of the beast that is Dubai”. The restaurant works with Chef Middle East to import Omaha beef, sea bass and tuna through Fresh Express, and lamb ribs from Indoguna Dubai.

But, he’s quick to add that local suppliers are a priority, too: “We are also working with Emirates Hydroponic Farms for cress and are trying to have local suppliers as much as possible.”

Tracey, who joined the restaurant during the pre-opening phase, wrote and crafted the original menu, and notes that he tries to pass FireLake’s famous flame grill flavour on to most dishes, using some crucial kitchen equipment like Morello Forni’s professional grade pizza oven which is featured prominently at the entrance of the partial open kitchen. The kitchen also makes use of other vital equipment like the Bertha oven, Beech Oven Parilla Grill, Electrolux and Rational ovens.

The kitchen is run by a staff of 10 which also includes the restaurant’s newest hire, head chef Albert Raven, who joins the team from Le Petit Belge.

But as far as what the guests will experience through his food, Tracey says he agrees with Van Zyl, explaining that the restaurant is not trying to offer a fine-dining experience. He concludes: “I think the key thing with FireLake is it becomes somewhere people could come to two to three times a week to enjoy good, unfussy food that's well-prepared, with an emphasis on high quality produce and the execution of the cooking — this is something we are going to go big on.”

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