Simon Rimmer, according to my research team, Mr. Google and Wiki, is a fashion and design student turned chef. After winning a few culinary accolades, Mr, Rimmer then moved into television hosting several cooking shows. After that, it seems, he put his name onto a restaurant in Dubai called The Scene. I don’t know if he was a hands on partner, throwing swaths of rejected floral wallpaper off the terrace and dramatically spitting out substandard sauces from the kitchen or he simply sold his name to the investors and sat back home in Chorlton Cum Hardy counting his money.
Either way, his two main strengths design and cooking, were well represented in The Scene. If my grandmother was a, still alive and had b, taken too many of her special pills, she would have designed something like The Scene. Eclectic British adornments deliberately mis-matched were scattered across the dining room. Jam jars for lights, faux Thomas Minton Willow patterned jugs, Chatsworth house deer antler light fittings – you get the picture.
So I decided to take my lifelong expat parents for a late lunch along with the Serbian. I was hoping to incite some nostalgia for the old couple and instil some colonial culture in the Slavic one. We arrived to a busy restaurant. Busy with staff more than customers though. A lot of staff were on duty, all standing around, doing very little. Perhaps they were getting ready for a busy evening shift and we happened to arrive in the quiet before the storm.
Upon arrival we were asked if we wanted the lounge or the restaurant. According to the hostess, the only difference between the two was where they were located. We ended up choosing a booth but I don’t know if that was in the restaurant or lounge area. I don’t think the hostess knew either, if I am honest.
The menu incited little gasps of joy from my mother, who then proceeded to read out every dish that she particularly liked. And it seems like she liked the entire menu. If there was sea bass on the menu, my father was going to order sea bass. He always chooses the sea bass. The Serbian was going to go for something safe and familiar to her mother country, like a slab of meat. There were too many strange exotic dishes on the menu, like fish and chips, Welsh rarebit or Scotch egg for her liking.
My fish and chips arrived exactly how I thought it would – on a wooden board, just like they are served in er, Bognor Regis?! The battered fish was a little too light in colour; I would have enjoyed a little more golden brown and crunch to the batter. However, the fish was good, moist, flavourful and a good portion. The chips were better than average, great colour, crispy and well cooked. I think the fish fryer chef needs to take lessons from the chip fryer chef.
My father’s sea bass fillet (see I told you) arrived looking rather lost against the Greek salad and a comically over-sized filo crisp. When asked to give his in-depth opinion, he shrugged and said “I like sea bass.” Which I took to mean “it wasn’t particularly good, but in true British fashion, let’s not make a scene, especially at The Scene.” Mother had the pie of the day, which was beef and ale. It continued to elicit little yelps of happiness so I assume it hit all the expectations she had put on the dish beforehand, and knowing my mother, they would have been significant. Finally, the chuck steak Herd Burger arrived for the Serbian one. Chuck steak, otherwise known as braising steak, actually makes for quite good ground patties, thanks to the balance of meat and fat. She didn’t eat all of it, but she never does for any meal. I don’t know why, and at this stage I’m too afraid to ask.
At this stage of the meal, we had witnessed countless managers wander by the table but none of them thought it might be nice to engage in some pleasantries with us, inquire about our food, or if we had watched the latest series of Downton Abbey. So I suppose, our great British hospitality is living up to its reputation.
We finished off our meal with some shared deserts, Apple crumble (“I like apple crumble”) and Eton Mess (insert another excited squeal here). Both dishes were demolished by all four spoons rather quickly. They were good; well presented, good temperature and flavours and a thoughtful spin on some classics.
The Scene has definitely had some heart and soul put into its menu and design. You feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment you walk in, and are pleasantly surprised with the diversity and quality of the menu. It is just a shame that the same heart and soul wasn’t seen in the staff. Despite having a large work force and plenty of pretty faces, The Scene seemed to be lacking some genuine hospitality.