By Gavin Gibbon
Massive portions and good quality food set this old favourite apart in crowded market
Prior to the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic, there were roughly 19,000 restaurants in the UAE, catering to everything, from fine dining to fast food. New concepts were opening up as quickly as the buttons in the stomach section of my work shirts.
Sometimes, however, it’s good to go back to what you know, the tried and tested. Like putting on a pair of gloves in a cold Scottish winter. It just feels right.
And so when Claw BBQ bar and restaurant reopened after the craziness of a coronavirus-enforced lockdown it made sense that one of the first places we visited was Souq Al Bahar in Downtown Dubai, to this absolute gem.
The look and feel, vibe and atmosphere, is the same as it’s been for the last eight years. For anyone who hasn’t been there, it doesn’t try to be chic or pretentious - think American diner cum sports bar.
Ramzy Abdul Majeed, founder and chairman of Whissle Hospitality Group, which owns the venue, told Arabian Business: “We get people who come in here in suits, others come in wearing baseball caps, sandals and shorts. It’s your place, just come in however you’re comfortable.
“What’s important is it’s massive portions and very good quality food because people don’t expect food of that quality in a place like this. You come in and you think, ‘oh, it’s a bar’. It looks like a bar and feels like a bar and then they taste the food. That’s why we’re still open, eight years in.”
He’s not wrong about the portions either.
With that in mind, it was a wise option to share a starter, although the Buffalo Shrimp was so good we probably should have ordered two. “Since the beginning people have done wings, but we said, why don’t we do something a bit different, so we did Buffalo Shrimp. I used to travel a lot and I’ve not seen them anywhere else in the world,” said Abdul-Majeed.
And probably not tasted anything like it before either – the sauce alone leaves just enough of a kick to let you know it’s there.
It would be rude to visit a place called Claw and not try the crab, so it was only right that I ordered Snow Crab for the main, with my wife opting for the beef fajitas.
Both were huge, with pieces of medium rare steak and the accompanying toppings, and huge crab’s legs, complete with potatoes and corn, dominating the entire table.
An issue with crab is that it’s often a lot of effort for very little, but in this case the effort was rewarded with plentiful supplies of delicious crab meat.
It left just enough room to try the new apple pie and again the sharing option was a bad move as a battle royal ensued with spoons to devour the dessert.
Given that we’re gradually coming out of lockdown and it was a Monday night, the place was buzzing, within the government guidelines surrounding health and safety, social distancing etc.
The venue has invested in machines to sanitise shoes at the entrance as well as others for money and mobile phones, cutlery and condiments.
“We want people to be comfortable, that’s the idea. As humans, we’ve all been stuck at home, so we want to be out. But the problem is, you want to be safe. I don’t want people to be taking risks, whatever we can do to help, we’re doing,” said Abdul-Majeed.
With happy, smiling, attentive staff, daily offers and live sports on the plethora of screens, a visit to Claw will soon have you hooked.