The Hide is a place where cows go, thinking they are safe from people like Chef Nick Cuadrado and his kitchen team. It is also a new steak restaurant in Al Qasr Hotel where the old MJ’s used to be.
They have described themselves as a Meatery and claim to be a total premier meat experience. I almost didn’t make a reservation based purely on that fact alone. I told the Serb, who was, of course, delighted at the thought of a Meatery, that if the manager was wearing a Lady Gaga meat dress, we were going home immediately.
I can imagine when the concept development team were asking management what language tone did the brand want to use in conversations with their demographic audience, the answer was, “Puns and quips. I want ridiculous quibble everywhere. Make it Puntastic!”
And this is why the starter section is titled “Nice to Meat You.” Yes, that got approved. There is also a section called Forgotten Cuts which just sounds like there was a forgotten tray of steaks at the bottom of the walk-in chiller about to expire. I suppose it’s better than Signature Cuts which was so 1980’s.
Everything on the menu is either Heritage, or Smoked, or Naked or Aged or Vintage. I understand the new trend in food is all about the provenance of ingredients and lifestyle words, but when your menu has more superlatives and descriptors than a Nicholas Sparks novel, I think you’ve gone too far.
The restaurant interior is a strong attempt at re-claimed industrial chic, with typical American booths and group seating. The lighting is soft and warm, using some rather good filament bulbs to great effect, and the furniture is an inviting, soft brown leather. On a side note – what is it with steak houses insisting on using leather for chairs and booths? Talk about adding insult to injury to the sacrificed bovine beasts.
The issue with steak is that it’s just that – steak. Chefs will kill me now – but, there isn’t much else you can do with it apart from applying some heat and sticking it on a plate. And in that regard, The Hide has done quite a good job in trying to bring a little fun and difference to a static and slightly inflexible cuisine.
I ordered the Flat Iron Steak, which is a cut that can sometimes be a little tough, so is usually marinated in something to soften the meat up. The Korean marinade sounded great, and I was looking forward to a nice kick of tangy soy sauce with perhaps sesame or garlic undertones. I, unfortunately, didn’t get any of that. Perhaps what they simply meant was that their Korean Commis Chef, Kyung-Joon was on marinating duty.
Having said that, the meat was tender and cooked well, which are the sacrosanct basics of beefery. (Yes, I can make up words too.) The other cuts they specialize in are dry aged Spanish and Black Angus US beef. I could practically taste the carbon emissions just reading the menu.
The Manwich is purposely oversized and messy. It is a dish that regulars will try once, and tourists will Instagram and tweet along with their Burj Al Arab and camel photos. Made from approximately one million ingredients, from cheddar slathered bread wedges with brisket beef to fried eggs and pickles. It is unlikely that the dish is ever finished, and I suppose that is the point.
Because steak houses find it so difficult to differentiate themselves from each other, they inevitably bring in gimmicky knives to “compliment the steak.” Some steak houses bring you a display case of knives, and you can choose your weapon, and some even engrave the knives for the regular guests. In the case of The Hide, I was given a miniature meat cleaver, which made me feel like an oversized butcher on a busman’s holiday.
Service staff were friendly and personable, but the actual service was a little awkward if that makes any sense. The restaurant was full, which is a good sign, and it was a mixture of the Jumeirah faithful and the few tourists that didn’t get the memo. The atmosphere was pleasant but not as cutting edge as the New York or Chicago scene they were aiming for.
Overall, in a saturated steak market, The Hide performs admirably well. The menu is cute and playful, if a little overdone for my liking, and the interpretations of classic steakhouse fare are executed well. At 450 AED for two, the pricing point is spot on for their positioning, and overall it is a check in the win box for me.
If you are looking for a Meatery that provides a premier total meat experience, then this is a great place to hide away in.