Skye and Walker is a surprising F&B addition to Deira, in the same way that a cell phone would be an extraordinary addition to the 1940’s.
I realize that might come across as controversial, but let it be known that Deira is a magical place, and provides the cultural and historical backbone of this country. This is the birthplace of trade and commerce – nothing can stand next to Deira with quite the same level of authenticity and credibility.
Think the new canal is fancy pants? Deira is home to the original (and natural) Dubai Creek. Think Mall of Emirates is outstanding? Deira Gold Souk dates back at least 100 years and has over 500 Trillion Dhs worth of gold inside. (I totally made that up – if anyone has the correct figure, let me know.) Enjoy the new Waitrose in Jumeirah? The spice souk is where it all started.
My point is – the story of Dubai started in Deira – everything we see and enjoy today is because of what happened in Deira in the last 100 years or so. Therefore, Deira has my utmost respect and affection. It just doesn’t have particularly progressive restaurants at the moment, and the attention of the city has been on shiny things that reach far into the sky, sea or ground.
So, finding a restaurant like Skye and Walker in a Deira hotel is a bit like finding an extra screw after assembling a chair from IKEA. You know what it is, but you also know it shouldn’t really be there.
Even the name brings up visions of futuristic galaxies where fantastical species from different worlds mingle and live in cohesive harmony. As for Skye and Walker, that name is a nod to the previous outlet which was called Skywalk – which was on the ground floor.
There is an ongoing discussion between strokey beard industry experts, on who run restaurants better – hoteliers or restaurateurs. The judgment is largely skewed towards restauranteurs, but if there is any remaining doubt, Skye and Walker has the definitive answer.
We walked in on a quiet weekend morning and immediately became invisible to the serving staff. The Serb and I spoke amongst ourselves for a while, until the novelty of being invisible wore off and then decided to seat ourselves. We took the opportunity to have a good look around the place while we were continued to be ignored.
The interiors of Skye and Walker are polished concrete, exposed ceilings with an organic, natural colour palette. A little dated were S&W in New Dubai, but in Deira, it’s positively futuristic. However, after learning that the majority of the furniture is made from recycled, reclaimed and eco-friendly materials, Skye and Walker becomes even more progressive, even for New Dubai.
As time moved closer to afternoon and we had yet to be noticed by anyone, we decided to take matters into our own hands. I approached the counter, apologized in a very polite manner for disturbing them and informed the team behind the counter that we were moving to a table outside. We were informed back that it wasn’t a problem and my apology was accepted. Bolshie sarcasm doesn’t travel well, it appears.
Skye & Walker’s food is skewed to a healthier selection of options with an accessible and friendly menu. Depending on what online collateral you read, Skye and Walker’s commitment to ingredients range between sustainable, organic and locally sourced.
The menu reads as good as any menu across the other side of a creek but is priced to match as well. (Beef burger, 70 dhs, anyone?) There are smashed avocados, date waffles, quinoa porridge along with soups, sweet potato gnocchi casserole and a selection of juices. Overall, the menu is fresh and more importantly, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
We ordered baked organic egg roll with feta and spinach, a breakfast flatbread with zaatar labneh, egg, mozzarella and arugula and an ABB&J, which is a banana, Nutella and almond butter wrapped in a protein wrap.
Chef Hari’s approach to food is uncomplicated and his cooking benefits from a refined touch. The flatbread itself was delicately sweet, for example, yet robust with the zaatar and arugula topping.
The poached eggs topped the little bread rolls perfectly, the yolk soft enough to fill the air pockets once pierced with a fork and the whole dish was seasoned with a loving confidence.
Banana, Nutella, and almond butter are three ingredients that can do no wrong when combined. They will taste as good in the hands of a 3-star chef in a fine dining restaurant in Barcelona as in the hands of an art student in the back of a camper van in Cornwall. The ABB&J was a perfect example of that. Unapologetic and without shame.
So hats off to Hari, but now I cast my eye to the service team – the supposed storytellers, the bastions of concept, the creators of loyalty, the ambassadors of hospitality.
All I will say, is that self-respect is a powerful attribute – it can manifest itself into fame, merit, and excellence. A friendly greeting, an honest smile and genuine hospitality are all components to this fame. Telling the story, boasting about the menu, offering personal choices, bringing encouragement and excitement to the experience – this is what distinction demands.
I hope Skye and Walker continue to search for these lofty aspirations, because in a way, they deserve it but more importantly, Deira deserves it.
Lastly – there has been much drama in the media about the credibility of food bloggers and writing nice things for freebies. I don’t get freebies and I also review anonymously. Therefore I am in an enviable position to show my receipts for every meal I have. So, I will. #noreceiptnoreview