Ask someone what the first thing is that comes to their mind when they think about Dubai, and there is a high chance it will be the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel that stands out as a huge ship’s sail on the private beach of the Jumeirah group in the bustling desert state. Located on the highest floor of this amazing landmark, and honoring its name which means the highest in Arabic language, you will find Al Muntaha, where Chef Saverio Sbaragli presents a cooking style which is a perfect blend of his Italian roots and French savoir-faire and this while using the freshest products out there.
Location & Interior
The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel is located two hundred and eighty meters off the shores of Dubai on a man-made island that you can access via a bridge that connects Jumeirah’s private beach with the mesmerizing hotel. After crossing what might be one of the most impressive hotel lobbies in the world, you can step into one of the two express panoramic elevators, travelling six meters per second, who will transport you to restaurant Al Muntaha on the twenty-seventh floor. This trip comes with all the breath-taking panoramic views you would expect. The vast slanted glass windows of the elevators offer the perfect photo opportunity of the Arabian Gulf and the splendid Dubai coastline. See also our review about the hotel!
Upon arrival in the restaurant, you notice that the dining room is very spacious and has floor to ceiling windows that enable unobstructed views of the whole area. The blue and green color scheme works very well and adds to the sophisticated atmosphere. In line with the rest of the hotel, Al Muntaha feels as a very luxury environment. Tables covered with pristine with cloths and featuring beautiful silverware add to that atmosphere.
The Chef & team
Sbaragli was born in Florence, the capital of Tuscany in Italy. He comes from a family of farmers and grew up surrounded by chicken, cows, pigs and the farmland on which the family grew their own vegetables. As child of a busy household, young Saverio spent a lot of time with his grandmother, who was always working in the kitchen to prepare food for the more than ten people who came sitting around her table for lunch or for dinner. Still today, the chef can perfectly picture this amazing lady behind the stove, cleaning vegetables or preparing meat. The atmosphere in that kitchen has impacted him for life and created a dream for his future. At the age of four, he told his grandmother that he wanted to become just like her when he grew up. That ambition never disappeared and this inspired Sbaragli to join culinary school in Florence at the age of twelve. After getting out of culinary school when he was eighteen, he started working in Florence before taking up his military service. When his national service was fulfilled and with the goal to strengthen his practical culinary knowledge, Sbaragli started working in some of the most beautiful hotels in his hometown.
In those years, he was reading a lot of magazines and got attracted by the stories of great French chefs such as Alain Ducasse. He decided to send his curriculum vitae to all three Michelin starred restaurants in France, applying for a job in their kitchens. Saverio sent more than thirty letters and to his surprise, he also got replies from all of them. Unfortunately, all the reactions were negative…except one. He got a job offered by Chef Alain Ducasse, and got the opportunity to start working in restaurant La Terrasse of Hotel Juana in Juan-Les-Pins, where he was trained by Ducasse himself. From La Terrasse, he moved to Paris to join Alain Passard in the kitchen of his mythical restaurant L’Arpege. One year later, Sbaragli would move back to Italy to become part of the kitchen team of Il Pellicano, a one Michelin star restaurant at that moment where he became sous-chef and where he would stay for two seasons. An important chapter in his career, came after Il Pellicano. Saverio moved back to his hometown Florence, where he would spend four years in two Michelin stars restaurant Enoteca Pinchiorri. Enoteca Pinchiorri earned its third Michelin star during the period the chef was working there. Still today, Sbaragli considers that period as one of the most influential ones of his entire career. Having gained a lot of experience, Saverio would leave the kitchen of Enoteca Pinchiorri to move to Geneva, where he became sous-chef of one Michelin star restaurant Il Lago in the Four Seasons hotel des Bergues.
But Sbaragli was ambitious and was convinced it was time for him to become a head chef. In search of the fulfilment of that ambition, he went back to Italy. But not for long. Shortly after he left Il Lago, he was contacted by Jose Silva who was the director of the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in which Il Lago was situated and who offered him the head chef position. The ambitious chef would return and stay for five years. In 2016 he left Il Lago and opened restaurant Tosca in Geneva as head chef. In the meanwhile, José Silva had left the Four Seasons hotel and had become CEO of Jumeirah in Dubai. Silva remembered the contribution of Sbaragli in the Four Seasons des Bergues and asked him to move to Dubai to become the head chef of Al Muntaha in Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The chef had totally no ambition to move to Dubai, but he was offered a week vacation to discover the city by Jumeirah and decided to give it a go. Almost immediately after his arrival, he decided to accept the job offer and took over the kitchen of Al Muntaha.
Today, the chef is working with a large kitchen team consisting out of twenty-six people. They cater for on average sixty covers per seating. The team is very international, with the head chef being Italian, the sous-chef French, and the rest of the team regional from countries surrounding Dubai.
The chef is Italian and never omits his roots while he is creating dishes for Al Muntaha. Traditional French fine dining is refined with Italian influences to create modern dishes with bold flavors. The best and freshest products are cooked to perfection by the chef who strives on every plate for maximum taste and smell. Priority always first goes to the experience in the mouth before he tries to please the eye. The cooking style is modern and technical, but still traditional and based on French classical cooking. Obsessed by the temperature his food is being served at, the chef makes sure that every warm dish leaves the kitchen on hot plates to make sure the guests can experience his creations exactly the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
Some of the dishes we tried :
Even though there are no real seasons in Dubai, still the chef considers seasonality as the biggest inspiration for the creation of new dishes. Products are imported from all over the world when they are at their best. So you can find lobster and line-caught seabass from Brittany, langoustines from Norway that arrive alive at the restaurant, and Bresse chicken from France among the products he is cooking with. But after being in Dubai now for several years, Sbaragli also discovered several local suppliers of organic vegetables and got more and more surprised by the quality of the local products. Whether local or imported, the most important criterium for the chef to decide on whether he will work with a product or not, is the fact that he can get it as fresh as possible and from the highest quality.
Service and wine
The service in Al Muntaha is flawless, tasteful and elegant. It perfectly fits the fine dining experience that you expect in a location as this. The staff is polite, smart and knowledgeable and at all times throughout your lunch or dining experience, you will feel taken care off.
Not every restaurant in Dubai has an alcohol license, but obviously Al Muntaha does. The extensive wine list is impressive and boasts all the big names you can expect in a luxury environment like this. If you crave for some of the most exclusive French labels, be assured that the sommelier of Al Muntaha will be able to serve them for you.
Why go ?
For who is not able to spend the night in one of the breathtaking suites of the enchanting Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel in Dubai, a reservation in Al Muntaha is your entrance ticket to visit this mind blowing epitome of luxury anyway. But once you walk into the restaurant itself, that immediately becomes the main attraction. The fabulous food of Saverio Sbargelio, served in a unique and fancy environment with the most amazing views and staff that pampers you from the moment you walk in, is your guarantee for spending a few hours of pure indulgence.