I love mall-hopping with my little girl. It’s our mummy-daughter bonding time, and one of our favorite shopping destinations has always been Dubai Festival City Mall.
Apart from a wide range of shopping options including the two anchor tenants Ikea and Robinson’s which do not have stores anywhere else in the city, Dubai Festival City has a great selection of restaurants and cafes, and the spectacular IMAGINE show that takes place every half-hour at the harbor front is absolutely magical for kids and grown-ups alike.
PIRATES OF THE BAY
With the weather being so breezy-beautiful, my daughter Farasha and I headed out to the ‘Pirates of the Bay’ activation area of the mall. The outdoor mini theme park is full of great photo opps and interesting little stores.
We discovered a book store dedicated to kids called Booktopia and ended up buying the entire Roald Dahl collection.
Farasha had fun playing on the slides and swings. She even had a go at the sand pit and the activities table where she got step by step instructions on how to make a pirate’s torch.
However, the most fascinating part about ‘Pirates of the Bay’ is the pirate-themed IMAGINE show that can be viewed by the harbor, or even from the pirate’s boat. The pirate’s tale is reflected onto the dancing fountains and onto the façade of the neighboring building. The show is free to watch for all.
All that play had Farasha hungry, so we headed out for dinner. We dined at Famous Dave’s, the latest addition to the Dubai Festival City Mall restaurant offerings.
Have you dined at Famous Dave’s? They are famous, yet this was my first time! We were hosted by the very friendly, stylish Brix. I was teasing him about his Elvis-like hair, and he pointed out every staff member there was ‘famous’ in their own right.
You can get a great view of the IMAGINE show from the outdoor patio of Famous Dave’s, but we chose to sit indoors and enjoy the quirky cool retro-American diner vibes.
Famous Dave’s is an American chain of barbeque restaurants that was founded by Dave Anderson near Hayward, Wisconsin in 1994. A below-average student, Dave inherited his father’s passion for smoked meat at an early age and his undying passion had him scrupulously working and reworking on smoking techniques and sauces.
Famous Dave’s now has branches all over the globe, with 4 in the UAE (in Dubai, they are located in Dubai Parks & Resorts, and now in Festival City).
But it isn’t just the meat smoking that got Dave famous. A philantrophist at heart, Dave is of Ojibwe origin, and served as the head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs from 2004 to 2005. Dave is also an author, and all the proceeds from the Famous Dave’s cookbook “Rib-O’Licious” go to help disadvantaged Native American youth. Oprah Winfrey once gave Famous Dave an Angel Network Award for his work with at-risk Native American youth, and world-renowned motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar dedicated his “Success for Dummies” book to Famous Dave and featured Dave’s life story.
My husband is travelling at the moment, and I really missed him through our carnivorous dinner at Famous Dave’s. This restaurant really is a haven for beef lovers. All the meat used at Famous Dave’s is imported from Texas, and is smoked inhouse in a giant smoker by trained pit-masters using imported hickory logs.
Each table at Famous Dave’s has squirt-bottles of his famous sauces, and the server makes a big fanfare of these by introducing each sauce onto a platter as he draws out a saucy smile.
For our appetizers round we started off with ‘Almost Famous’, a half-bun topped with pulled chicken, BBQ sauce, smoked cheddar, slaw and pickle.
We also had a platter of ‘Wings & Rings’ and asked to have them ‘naked’ so that we could try all three options of the sauces on the side. Both Farasha and I would suggest the Honey Chili sauce.
However, my absolute favorite appetizer from the night was the ‘Burnt Ends’. These aren’t burnt at all but are divinely delicious cubes of Texas Beef Brisket that are coated in a savory-sweet sauce and served on top of a Texas toast with Famous pickle, ranch dressing and onion rings. I could easily have this as a main-course.
To digest all this meaty goodness, Famous Dave’s has a number of interesting drinks. My personal favorite was the ‘Arnold Palmer’, a 2-layered drink with tangy-sweet lemonade at the bottom and peach tea on the top. Have it muddled together, or sip it by alternating layers like I did.
For the main course, ofcourse we had to have a serving of the Texas Beef Brisket. It comes in 4 and 8 oz servings. We went for the 4 oz given we were trying out so many other dishes, but even that turned out to be generously large.
Famous Dave’s Texas Beef Brisket is succulently soft and flavorful owing to the 12-hour smoking process. The meat has been rubbed with sea salt and black pepper and served with Texas toast. Meat like this doesn’t call for many fringes, but you can order 2 sides to go with it. I had mine with creamy mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.
We were also served the Famous Dave’s Beef Short Ribs. These ribs have gone through a 6-hour smoking process and are prime marbled to boot.
If you’re dining with a friend who isn’t much of a meat eater, I would suggest the Salmon Bowl. This hearty bowl features a beautifully grilled serving of salmon with the skin still crisp that is sitting on a bed of dirty rice alongside buttered broccoli and chimichurri.
After this meaty marathon, we still managed to have space for dessert! Love the classic warm dark chocolate brownie and ice-cream combo? The one at Famous Dave’s is large enough to feed a crew of four.
My favorite dessert here was the very American Pecan Pie. The pie crust was deliciously crumbly, and the pecan filling had just the right balance of crunch and sweet. Will surely come back for more of this treat.
After a meal at Famous Dave’s, it gets pretty obvious why he’s famous. This all-American diner lives up to its smokin-good beefy claim. The ambiance is very chilled out, vibrant and welcoming as is the team on-floor, and the food I’ve tried was all lip-smackingly good.
STUCK FOR GIFTS?
Even the most discerning shopper will have something they’d need at Dubai Festival City Mall, so take a chill pill and simply buy them a mall gift card from the Information desk. It works like a standard credit card, so you can load it with any amount you please.
I was gifted a card from the mall and decided to end our mummy-daughter date night out with a chic-flick at NOVO Cinemas. We watched Captain Marvel. Will leave a review on that for another day!
Need more reasons to visit Dubai Festival City Mall? Have a skim through my Instagram post below 😊