If romance and Italian food are your thing...

Venetian vibes at Segreto - Souk Madinat.

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Who doesn’t love the Souk Madinat, Jumeirah? With over 40 restaurants to dine at (count ‘em!), it’s a fairly foolproof destination for even the fussiest of eaters. But with so many options at your disposal, how can a restaurant stand out above the others and make you come back for more?

‘Concept’ is important, which is what Segreto Restaurant and Bar has in spades. Billing itself as a ‘Venetian experience’ nestled among the weaving waterways of the Madinat, Segreto tries – and succeeds – at taking you to the Italian coastline without the six-hour flight. Just off the hustle and bustle of the Souk, the newly opened outdoor terrace is a perfect setting for romancing; you can almost imagine a Gondola in place of the Abra boats passing by.


Great views of the Burj Al Arab from the Madinat

‘Menu’ is another key factor and, once again, Segreto delivers. With exquisite sounding pasta dishes, risotto, fish or meat mains, you know you’re on to a winner when you’re pondering whether it really is excessively greedy to have two mains. However, this is Italian fine dining, so don’t expect to be presented with coma-inducing bowls of spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna. Yes, I know this is a little sad – there’s definitely something very satisfying at having to loosen your belt after a rustic and hearty Italian feed, which was proved convincingly to me at Buca di Beppo at Yas Mall, where I was fortunate enough to stumble across The Greatest Meatballs Ever Created. Fact. But that’s another story… which i'll get to one day. What you certainly can look forward to is food that’s presented so beautifully it would make any Masterchef contestant green with envy.

But most importantly, of course, the restaurant must provide ‘delicious food’… so how did Segreto fare? It certainly got off to an exceptional start: I opted for the Pan-Roasted Octopus starter, which more than hit the mark. Perfectly cooked with not a hint of chewiness, complimented by a black Olive tapenade and the incredibly tasty, small but mighty, Datterino tomatoes. For me to rave about a tomato is quite something in itself as these are usually shoved unceremoniously to the edge of my plate, yet the flavour in these little beauties was incredible.  My date chose the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio, delicate thinly sliced pieces of fillet that virtually dissolved in my mouth. Enhanced with black truffle shavings, wild mushrooms, rocket and Parmesan, these were the perfect additions to the plate but never overpowered the beef itself.

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Pan Roasted Octopus

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Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio

For the main event, I ordered Veal Chop Milanese. The chop was perfectly pink and juicy, accompanied with green peas puree, crushed potato and tiny little blobs of demi-glace that provided a huge smack of flavor. Speaking to the very passionate Italian Specialty Chef de Cuisine, reassuringly called Manuel, he explained this sauce is prepared traditionally and lovingly over three days in their kitchen – and is certainly well worth the wait! 

My date ordered pan seared diver scallops and her exact words were: “These are the best scallops I’ve ever had” – so I think she may have liked them. However, we remained less sure about the accompaniments on the plate: an exceptionally sweet carrot puree and a floury, rather bitter potato. Manuel explained his approach to each dish is to focus on earthy, natural flavours - which is admirable and made them a little easier to stomach.

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Pan Seared Diver Scallops

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Veal Chop Milanese

The good news at this point is that you haven’t stuffed yourself silly on meatballs and therefore have plenty of room - and zero guilt - about having dessert! So it was with relish that we tucked into an oozing chocolate fondant that collapsed under the slightest pressure from my spoon, spilling out a rich chocolate sauce that mixed perfectly with a scoop of soft hazelnut ice cream. Plate-lickingly good!  

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Chocolate fondant and hazelnut ice cream

I would love to sum up here by telling you that if you go to Segreto your life will be complete, it won’t, but it is still definitely leave you feeling happy, especially if you want a properly romantic setting for a special date. We really enjoyed our visit and the food is very fairly-priced considering the perfect setting.

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Segreto, pretty as a picture

Now read: 6 of the best fish and chips in Dubai