Why is steak so expensive in Dubai?
Recently I was asked to join a group of people in to trying out a place in one of Dubai’s most prominent locations. When the hostess gave me the menu, I’ll admit I felt embarrassed to choose what I wanted, because they were two- and three- Michelin-star restaurant prices, so I just followed the host and copied his choice. It was a reminder that when you go to pretty much any steakhouse in Dubai you get the feeling you’re being ripped off.
Sure, most of them serve really nice steaks and the menus and the setting are both spot on, but I’ve been to restaurants in France where you start with a nice farmer’s pâté, entrecôte with frites, sauce and a fresh salad bar, along with a carafe of red, for less than €25. That’s less than Dhs120.
Contrast this with steaks in your average, licensed steakhouse in Dubai, where prices start at around Dhs200. On top of that you have to pay for side dishes. When you go for the nice cuts, such as tenderloin, your bill will easily reach Dhs500 — and that’s just with water. So why are the prices so high?
You could argue that the meat has to be imported, but that can’t be the sole reason because almost everything has to be imported and not everything is this expensive. As a chef you can get nice American Angus or Australian 1824 grain-fed tenderloin here for Dhs150 per kilo. That’s Dhs37.5 for a portion. That steak shouldn’t cost more than Dhs175 in a restaurant with side dishes, sauce, taxes and service charge included. A nice salad, some steamed vegetables or portion of fries doesn’t cost more than Dhs2 to buy in.
Maybe it’s the posh restaurant interior, the expensive Laguiole knives, the Riedel wineglasses, the huge fine-wine and champagne stock and the Armani suits of the managers and sommeliers? Or perhaps it is simply the greediness of the owners.
That place in France has old chairs, no linen, simple china and cutlery and the boss looks like he just got out of bed and is still wearing yesterday’s clothes. But what a lively ambience and top food. I bet you, whoever starts a steakhouse with just some rural furnishing, acceptable prices and good comfort food will not only have a successful business but will also be a hero.
But I can give you one tip for a really good steak that won’t cost you a fortune. Go to The Dubai Mall and look for Texas Roadhouse, where you’ll pay Dhs85 for a nice strip loin with two side dishes. It’s not a recommendation for a romantic date, but it’s all about steak, isn’t it?
The Secret Chef currently lives and works in Dubai