Outlet 360: Fume Dubai

Jas Hospitality's second venue revealed

ECLECTIC: The bar area.
ECLECTIC: The bar area.
Comfort food: Home-made fried chicken.
Comfort food: Home-made fried chicken.
BOXED UP: Quirky interiors in the bar area.
BOXED UP: Quirky interiors in the bar area.
DIG INTO: 200g Angus rump burger.
DIG INTO: 200g Angus rump burger.

Front of House

Jas Hospitality launched its second venue after Qbara earlier this year — Fümé.

The 140-seat licensed restaurant, located on the first floor of Pier 7, Dubai Marina, has been designed as a local neighbourhood eatery.

Fümé operations manager Angelo Rosato says the approach for the restaurant is to be casual. “To be casual seems easy but is much more difficult than to be high-end.” He explains that high-end restaurants have a set way of behaving, but with a casual restaurant, the concept isn’t always known by the customers. He adds: “It’s difficult because it’s an educational process, not just training.”

Rosato is proud that the approach is working — he reveals that many customers have commented that the experience is one found at international outlets.

Fümé head chef Grant Brunsden says: “It’s because we are going against the grain of everything.” Rosato agreed and said: “When we joined the company, I got an idea of what the front-of-house was meant to be, we knew it was supposed to be vintage industrial. This is a trend in cosmopolitan cities in Europe, and it fit the location perfectly.”

Rosato credits Jas Hospitality managing director Elmar Pichorner with the vision of the interiors, and says the entire team got involved to develop it further.

He explains: “We picked up the glasses from the Dubai souq, another item came back from Turkey. One of the investors went to Singapore and found the old cash register and thought it would go well with the restaurant. Another investor sent an old radio from his grandfather. These things all came together.”

The bar has vintage-styled signs and boxes on the walls, with flooring created with Scottish whiskey barrels. Rosato says it’s about old-fashioned drinks made in a rustic way.

The restaurant, open for three months now, has been busy. Rosato reveals it is “comfortably doing an average of 250 covers every day including lunch and dinner, and there have been days where we have done more” and admits weekends see more customers. Brunsden adds: “It has to be one of the busiest restaurants I’ve ever done in my career.”

Rosato highlights the music as one of the “hardest things we did” and Brunsden adds it was also “one of the coolest”. The music at the venue comes from two iPods, compiled with samples from Pichorner, Rosato, Brunsden, and other team members. This has resulted in a range of music from all over the world. Rosato adds: “The idea was for every customer to say, ‘oh this can be my iPod’.”

Rosato says: “The beauty of Fümé is that it has no boundary, even design-wise. A cold section with a fish display can become a mozzarella bar or a meat display. We have a bar area with a TV, so we can show games, but then we can show old vintage movies. We are not an Italian or Chinese restaurant — we have comfort food from around the world.”

Back of House

The menu inspiration is a hot pot of dishes from across Europe, North and South-East Asia. It also has a seafood and salad bar, and a dessert and coffee station.

The seafood and meat smoking is done on-site, with coconut husks used as charcoal. The kitchen has a Josper charcoal oven, and with the use of whiskey barrel chips, the meat is charred to get the right aromas.

UK national Brunsden has had a long and varied career in his home country, India and Japan, including with Christopher Oakes at Stafford Hotel London, Fergus Henderson at St John, Zuma London, and Australian-born restaurateur Will Ricker, before working with Divia Cadbury for Ai in New Delhi for 11 months, and then spending five years in Shanghai with M1NT Restaurant & Grill.

Talking about the menu, he says: “From Europe to India, to Asia, with Chinese influences and Japanese influences in the food that I do... I suppose it is, in a way, international food.” He adds that his team of 17 chefs are from all over the world, which also reflects on the menu. He encourages innovation, and says: “To get a dish on the menu is very important for a young chef, so if they can find a way to make it better, we do it, we change the recipe.”

He notes: “The shepherd’s pie is very, very English, but at the same table you can have a Thai salad or a duck with hoisin sauce. It’s not fusion food though; we just try to bring all the flavours from around the world.”

Some of the most popular dishes are the six hour-smoked beef chuck ribs [“We can’t keep up with production; the whole cooking process is 22 hours” says Brunsden], crispy duck salad with watermelon, veal chips, and pulled beef brisket buns.

After six or seven months, Brunsden plans to go through each dish again and make improvements. If any dish isn’t
selling, he will take them off the menu and try something else, and even considers tweaking the best-sellers to make them better.

He reveals that while Jas Hospitality provided guidelines on the menu, the final concept is very much his vision. Rosato adds: “We do all the comfort food but it starts from ingredients. We build our own ingredients and we start from scratch.” Brunsden admits it took the team a while to find the right suppliers to keep prices down in order to stay a “neighbourhood eatery”. He is also a champion of local ingredients and reveals he has been to the fish and fruit & vegetable markets in Dubai to suss out what he can use in the menu.

But the flush of success has helped, he says. “People have realised that we are busy. With Qbara, with Fümé, with Jas Hospitality... we are not a flash in the pan, we are going to be here for a while. They have started to come to us.” Rosato adds that the challenge in Dubai is that restaurants need to have multiple suppliers for one item. “Someone will run out,” he explains.

Brunsden says: “The whole concept was actually giving something back to people. We are trying to create a relaxed restaurant, a home away from home.”

This is seen even with the camaraderie within the kitchen. Brunsden says: “It’s nice to be back with a good mix of people, it makes you a better person. It isn’t just about me and Angelo — it’s about the others as well.”

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