Earlier this week, I was a guest at the launch of the new Weslodge Saloon at my favourite hotel, the JW Marriott Marquis.
Torontonians may already be aware of this slick modern take on the Old West saloon – though it perhaps has more of a British hunting lodge feel, with wainscoted walls, leather banquette seating, Queen Anne-style settees, a hodgepodge of historic paintings and photographs on display, plus decorative skull and antlers mounted on the walls (fake ones, I hope).
It’s a bar/lounge/restaurant for hipsters and trendsetters with a cool vibe, great music (postmodern rock with some classics thrown in) and three distinct areas where you can imbibe (the main bar area and two adjoining rooms).
Unlike the flagship restaurant which is at street level in the heart of Toronto’s fashion district, Dubai’s version is in the world’s tallest hotel on the 68th floor so you get sweeping panoramic views of Downtown Dubai, the World and the Arabian Gulf, plus on this occasion, Dubai’s beautiful people, strutting around in their finest.
Here’s a sneak peek into one of the dining areas before the glitterati arrived. Perfect for a classy night out with a group of friends or colleagues.
Or if you wish, you can canoodle with your date on one of the Queen Anne-style settees.
They’ve brought staff from the original Toronto outpost to help with the opening and training, and the warm North American hospitality really makes such a difference. We had excellent service from James and Robyn, who were not only super-competent and knowledgeable, but gasp! They had personality! The service throughout the night was excellent – engaged with smiles and conversation, drinks supplied or topped up without delay, empty glasses removed, canapé napkins cleared quickly and unobtrusively.
The Weslodge is definitely a drinking establishment, though I didn’t find their drinks to be as complex or sophisticated as those at Cocktail Kitchen. But nonetheless, they will keep you well-lubricated and get you inebriated. Below is the Queen’s Tea, a spicy mix of alcohols which I can’t quite recall. (See, it did its job.)
For non-drinkers, you can have a classic North American iced tea.
For the opening event, it was only canapés, but based on this, I can’t wait to try their full menu which is contempory American with some British and Canadian influences (Scotch eggs, poutine). Below is a plate of lamb sliders.
This diminutive Scotch egg was delicious – a slow-cooked quail egg coated in lamb sausage and crumbed, which I actually preferred to the traditional version.
Weslodge Saloon officially opens for business on 12 April, but they’re taking bookings from 5 April.
Verdict: Cool new bar/lounge/restaurant for Dubai’s hipsters/beautiful people/trendsetters. Definitely the new place to go for a cool yet casual night out. Check it out.
Note to self: Great place to feel the North American love!
JW Marriott Marquis
Tel: 04 414 3000
Chow for now!