While looking for new places to try out for dinner over the weekend, we came across Espana at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Garhoud. Having taken a look at the menu, the sangria and tapas selection definitely made the decision for us. This new nightspot is an amalgamation of nightlife of various Spanish cities, all in one place.
Our verdict: Some great Spanish food, with an expensive price tag and interesting decor.
Note: This review consists of a dish made of pork. The restaurants official name is España Restaurant and Bar
Fresh Prawns al Ajillo [AED 65]: Fresh prawns, garlic, white wine, fresh chili, parsley topped with a salmon skin crisp. The prawns were well cooked and succulent while the white wine sauce was buttery and light. In addition there were slices of asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower which added to the dish being fresh and flavoursome.
Pollito Moruno [AED 45]: Marinated chicken skewers and their homemade mojo sauce. The chicken was moist and cooked well and the sauce that accompanied it was tasty, although we did feel that the chicken itself could have had more flavour, perhaps more marination. The strips of celery that topped the skewers added a fresh bold element to the dish.
Plato Iberico [AED 85] (pork): Different types of pork charcuterie, a homemade potato crisp wall with a green salad in the middle along with delicious Spanish olives and gherkins. A simple dish with three types of pork slices on a slate slab. The meat was salty and delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed everything on the plate. The potato crisp was a nice textural element while the olives and gherkins provided extra sour and salty flavours.
Patatas Bravas [AED 35]: Fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and a bit of mayonnaise. A few cubes of potatoes with a hollow centre filled with mayonnaise. A well presented and modern take on the most popular Spanish tapas dish. However we do like the classics and felt that the pieces of potato should have been cubes instead.
Beetroot and Goat Cheese Croquettes [AED 39]: Goat’s cheese, beetroot, garlic and thyme over a bed of greens with their homemade gazpacho sauce. This dish sounds like a textural dream. The croquettes were fried golden on the outside while the inside was pink thanks to the mix of goat’s cheese and beetroot. A delicious dish but the cheese is quite strong so expect some big flavours. The presentation was average and could be improved, we weren’t fans of the parchment paper used at the bottom of the dish it was served in.
Seafood Paella [AED 165]: Squid, scallops, fresh shrimps, wine and mussels with rice. Espana serves this huge rice dish with a delectable mix of seafood. We found the dish to be slightly bland and recommend squeezing some lemon over the dish before digging in. The seafood were all cooked well and was presented beautifully. Although we did feel that perhaps the rice and the seafood were cooked separately and then combined before serving instead of being cooked altogether in the paella pan.
Medio Pollo Asado [AED 75]: Roast chicken, fresh spinach leaves and tomatoes in a light honey lemon sauce. The outer part of the chicken was delicious and the chicken was cooked well. But since the piece was quite large, the flavours didn’t get to go through, hence ended up being bland in the middle. Perhaps some more sauce with the chicken would help elevate this overall average dish.
All Night Long Sangria Pitcher [AED 95]: Sparkling wine, fresh watermelon, passion fruit, sugar and lemon. A delicious and refreshing drink with citrusy, sweet tones to it. One pitcher is enough for 4 people to each have a glass.
Watermelon Cooler Mocktail [AED 45]: Fresh watermelon, passion fruit, sugar and lemon. A delicious and sweet watermelon drink. T loves watermelon and gives this drink two thumbs up!
Churros [AED 35]: We both love churros especially since we’ve tried them in Spain and fell in love with this delectable dessert. So it made sense that a restaurant named ‘Espana’ would serve this popular dessert as well. The chocolate is thick and creamy with a hint of chili, however the churro itself seemed undercooked and doughy. Together the whole package tasted alright, but it doesn’t live up to Espana’s claim of the worlds best churros.
When we visited Espana the restaurant was empty. But we feel that their service could use some improvement. The greeting at the door was nice, we were given ample options for seating. The servers were polite, however at times they were quite inattentive.
Another point worth noting is that one of their video walls stopped working and defaulted to the windows login screen. This was almost at the start of our meal, but nobody bothered correcting this the rest of the time we were there, even when the servers were standing and looking at the wall directly. This is where attention to detail and presence of mind is important and was lacking.
When you enter Espana, you feel like you’re on going to be taken on an eclectic Spanish journey. This is perfect because the walls are windows to a beach setting (they have video walls with a sandy beach on display). Espana is trying to transport you to Spain, and it’s an interesting concept overall.
Other aspects of the venue were a bit confusing. Espana has some strange decorations, such as a section of a wall with roses and hands protruding out of it along with a large armchair in front of it. The barstools had a large eye on the outside of it, while the artwork was a mixed media medley of flowers, masquerade masks and lopsided frames. The colour scheme is overall red and black and gives off a bar or club type of setting rather than a fine dining experience.
There is also a DJ playing music and the empty space near the bar made us feel like Espana could be transformed into a club on some nights. Which made sense when we saw promos that Espana also has Ladies Nights and other such events.
Overall an interesting but confusing ambience.
To Book or not to Book
Espana was empty when we visited and only slightly filled up through the evening. On special themed nights, like ladies night, we can imagine it gets full. So book to be safe, but we are quite sure you will get a seat on any day.
How to get there
Espana is located in Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Garhoud. The hotel is very close to Irish Village. Espana is on the first floor of the hotel.
By Car: If you are coming from Garhoud bridge, take the airport exit. Head towards the signal and take a u-turn. Then take the second right. Head straight, past Irish village, till the road bends towards the right. At the bend the hotel will be on the left.
By Cab: The driver should know Jumeirah Creekside hotel, if not then ask them to take you to Irish Village. If Irish village is on your left, the hotel is a bit ahead on the bend.
Public Transport: You have the option to take the metro till GGICO station on the red line. From there it’s a 15 minute walk. There are bus options but that requires a few changes or catching a bus from the airport. So Espana is not the easiest to get to using public transport.
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/pNu5DLU8t1k
Once you enter the hotel, head up one floor. Exit the elevator and go right, you will see the floral archway entrance for Espana.
- Fresh Prawns al Ajillo : AED 65
- Pollito Moruno : AED 45
- Plato Iberico : AED 85
- Patatas Bravas : AED 35
- Beetroot and Goat Cheese Croquettes : AED 39
- Seafood Paella : AED 165
- Medio Pollo Asado : AED 75
- Churros : AED 35
- All Night Long Sangria Pitcher : AED 95
- Watermelon Cooler Mocktail : AED 45
Total for 4: AED 684
- España Restaurant & Bar, a.k.a Espana
- 04 228 1777