Serendipity 3 is the stuff of legends. The original NYC branch opened in 1954 in a Manhattan townhouse on the Upper East Side and has served famous patrons from Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe to Bill Clinton and Beyonce, not to mention it regularly appears in pop culture and films including the eponymous Serendipity. There’s also a branch in a place that is dear to my heart, Las Vegas.
And now, Dubai-based Al Tayer Group has brought the Serendipity 3 brand to the Middle East.
Before we go on, let’s answer the obvious question. Why the 3 in Serendipity 3? The “3” represents the 3 founders of the company. But let’s just call it Serendipity.
The decor at Serendipity is whimsical and fun which you feel from the moment you walk in. The entrance is flanked by two shrubs shaped like milkshakes with cherries on top. There’s a cotton candy machine that’s lined with giant rainbow swirl lollipops. They’ve divided the restaurant into four distinct sections including a section near the bakery areas with a fab sky ceiling with lighting in the form of parasols and candy floss, an area in the centre of the restaurant that looks like a glasshouse (minus the glass) with mirrored ceilings and Tiffany-style pendant lamps, and the terrace (which has yet to open) overlooking Dubai Creek.
The menu is classic American so expect BIG portions of typical American fare (think burgers, hot dogs, nachos, banana splits, ice cream sundaes). The menu is similar to the Las Vegas menu, though not the same as the original NYC branch (the A La Garden of Allah from the NYC menu didn’t make the cut).
Perhaps what Serendipity is most famous for is their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. As a marketer, I love this concept. They’ve glorified the basic chocolate milkshake and turned it into a coveted, must-order item which you think is a drink but is really a dessert. Genius! So I started my meal with dessert – not that I’m complaining!
Though American food (and portion sizes) may not be to everyone’s tastes, the quality of the food at Serendipity is actually quite good. So if you’re looking for some classic American grub, look no further.
Below is the Empire State Onion Rings which may just be the best onion rings I’ve ever eaten. The coating was crunchy and the onion inside was thick and soft. Not to mention, the presentation is great.
Below are the All In Nachos – tortilla chips dusted with ancho chili powder. Half are covered with chicken and white cheddar, the other half with pulled beef and sharp cheddar, with a big dollop of guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo on top.
Someone in our party described the Mighty Mini Beef Sliders as very American-tasting. The menu says these have melted American cheese, though it tastes like Swiss and the bun tastes like challah.
Serendipity does have a selection of salads as well. This is the “All Hail Caesar” which was delicious, with the biggest croutons you’ve ever seen.
Another classic American dish is potato skins. At Serendipity, their Loaded Potato Skins come in three varieties: mozzarella and beef pepperoni, broccoli and Buffalo chicken, and chili cheese and guacamole.
There are also three varieties of foot-long hot dogs – NYC Hot Dog (with sauerkraut, mustard and relish), the Texas Style Chili Cheese Dog (chili, sharp cheddar, green onions, mustard and diced onions), and the Nacho Hot Dog (nacho cheese and jalapenos). The hot dog buns also tasted like challah and were soft and delicious.
Serendipity has four varieties of pizza and three varieties of pastas on their menu. Below is the BBQ Chicken and Cheddar.
Below is the truffle Mac and Cheese. Beware if you don’t like truffle or ask for it sans truffle oil. A few people in our party weren’t so keen on the taste.
And of course there’s a selection of entrees such as the Cedar Plank Salmon below – wrapped in cedar paper, oven-baked and brushed with an apricot-mustard butter that gives a slightly sweet taste.
These days, sweet potato fries are oh-so-common, but at Serendipity, they dust their sweet po fries with powdered sugar. Of course they do! But don’t knock it. It works.
If you appreciate classic American food, you’ll find the savouries great.
But what Serendipity 3 is really known for is their ginormous and gluttonous desserts. Is there a dessert more American than the banana split? At Serendipity, the standard sized portion of their Outrageous Banana Split comes with 6 scoops of ice cream and will set you back AED 150. (However, you can always order the “cowards” size.)
Below are the carrot cake sundaes.
And here’s the Forbidden Broadway – a hot fudge sundae with a massive chocolate cake stuck inside.
If you’re feeling really gluttonous, you can order the massive Dubai’s Treasure Chest as your pièce de résistance. A chocolate chest is filled with ice cream and is perched atop several pieces of cake, waffle cones and deep-fried Oreos.
Verdict: Fun place to meet your friends with sweettooths and get your gluttony on.
Note to self: Tomorrow, the diet.
Dubai Festival City
Tel: 04 284 3149
Chow for now!