Review: Cheese and Grape night at Stage 2, Vida Downtown

A cultured evening out...without breaking the bank

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For those of us that live Dubai Marina Way, it takes a lot to pull us up Sheikh Zayed Road on a weekday evening…but the lure of cheese and grape did the trick.

Vida Hotel Downtown Dubai is a serene little spot nestled amongst the roar of supercars and fairy-lit palm trees along Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, and one you could easily miss. It's not your stereotypical grandiose Dubai construction; it's understated Arabesque architecture and charm presents a more inviting prospect.

As you walk through the subtly lit and cozy-looking pool area to the hotel entrance, you will find locals and tourists lounging on comfy sun beds, chatting and puffing away on Shisha under the shadow of the ever impressive Burj Khalifa. This looked very tempting, however we were here to sample Vida's Cheese and Wine evening 'Chee[r]se at Stage 2'. Simply replace 'sample' with 'gorge ourselves on' and you’ve hit upon the ugly truth.

So the deal is AED150 for three glasses of grape, unlimited cheese buffet and gourmet snacks on a Wednesday from 6-9pm. And yes, you heard correctly, unlimited cheese!

Now, I don’t profess to be any kind of cheese connoisseur (is there an actual term for a cheese guru? Is this an actual job? Why is this not MY job?), I just know what I like. And with 25 types of cheese on display there was bound to be something for me. For the grape, you can choose red, white or rose; they have three types of each on offer.

We were greeted by the friendly host and led to our table. Unfortunately we were unable to reserve a table outside on the balcony, but were happy enough inside, comfortable on our sofa and, most importantly, closer to the cheese...

Grape orders were taken promptly and we sat cheese-less for a few moments before the call was too much and we were buffet bound. Armed with cheeseboards and knife, we embarked on a reconnaissance mission.

First impressions suitably pleasing: ripe and melting soft French cheeses, mature Dutch wheels, German smoked, fragrant Swiss, pungent blues with peppery and spicy numbers too…it seemed all the bases were covered. The accompaniments included a beautifully thick and syrupy balsamic, a variety of chutneys and compotes along with breads and crackers, grapes, nuts and dates. With our cheeseboards looking like an accident involving Edward Scissorhands in a cheese factory, we headed back to our seats...

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Chutney

With our grape awaiting and our cheeseboard creations complete, conversation evolved purely into indecipherable noises of satisfaction and nods of agreement. This was complete indulgence.  We only felt a little bit sheepish heading up to the buffet for the second round…

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We are red grape aficionados, so I went straight for the Merlot and my cheese-loving friend opted for the Malbec. Both were quality offerings, unlike some cheese and wine evenings I have experienced. Now, strictly speaking this is the wrong choice. To offset the fatty, saltiness of the cheese you are better off ordering a white. If you are going for a red then the expert’s choice would be something light and fruity rather than the (dry) tannin-drenched varieties that we chose. However, these are the grape-types we love, and rules are there to be broken. Besides, the compotes and some water provided the moisture and acidity we required. Just.

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Of course there are areas for improvement: we found some of the breads to be a little stale from being left out uncovered. The staff could perhaps learn a little about the grape and cheese they are serving. There were a lot more soft cheeses than hard and the blue cheeses will not be strong enough for some.

However, for pure cheesy indulgence this is great value for money, so don’t Brie shy…go Emmental! Sorry.

For more details: Stage 2, Vida Hotels

Written By

Phil Seaton

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