Fitted Out: Yalumba Dubai
The restaurant in the Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre underwent a complete refurb
Yalumba is named after a winery located near the town of Angaston, South Australia in the Barossa Valley wine region. “The name ‘Yalumba’ had become a little detached from what it actually was. Our aim, when we made the scope of work with the designers, was to get as close to the roots as possible,” says Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference director of operations Brendan McCormack.
McCormack says the history of the outlet needed to be brought back to life. “When I joined the team over a year ago, we looked at the legacy and started brainstorming on ways and methods to enhance operations further. Over the years we probably slipped down the Dubai brunch landscape a little bit, and I wanted to make sure we did everything to get back in the top tier.”
He is, of course, referring to the Friday brunch which the hotel started in 2005. “It was pretty much the catalyst for Dubai’s brunch scene when it started more than a decade ago,” he claims.
The new and refurbed outlet, hence, needed to be built to purpose, forgoing a bit of the “fashionable bits”, which McCormack notes is not always the need of the hour. “It is important to not always look at what’s the most fashionable trend today, and instead look at functionality for the future. Yalumba in its former guise lasted for 10 years.” He adds: “Yalumba has many guises throughout the week as we have a different themed night every day.
“Hence, we had to be able to disguise ourselves on a daily basis. It was important for the restaurant to appeal to a diverse range of guests and situations.”
Going back to the roots was a key criteria and the designers were instructed accordingly. “The design narrative has a huge influence of a winery; it has warmth and the texture of wood, steel and iron. It resembles a cooperage where they make the barrels, hence many of the design elements of the restaurant take their influence from an old winery.”
A glance towards the ceiling and you actually notice a ceiling, instead of the ‘industrial look’; McCormack talks more about this trend. “The open ceiling and the exposed workings is something that has been done for a while now and every design style has a shelf life. We have moved on, so we decided to keep the ceiling feeling, rather than having all the workings exposed.”
The buffet arrangement of the erstwhile Yalumba featured a circular structure, which dominated the centre space of the restaurant. This was eliminated during the refurb, making way for an “interactive dining experience and an exposed back of house concept”.
McCormack says: “There are always concerns over the freshness of the food in a traditional buffet restaurant. We wanted to offer a pan-to-plate experience, where the chefs prepare food in front of the guests.”
“A great thing about this hotel is the number of F&B concepts we have and the authenticity they all pack in. We have, hence, drawn on all these chefs’ experience to ensure the food at Yalumba, and all the themed nights, is authentic because that’s what the customer wants,” he adds
He is relatively satisfied with the supplier network, both across “the produce and food service equipment available in the market”. He explains: “We had an endless selection of items that we could choose from. Some of the suppliers, however, have much better customer service than the others, which can go a long way in choosing who you do business with.” The revamped Yalumba is designed for a purpose and McCormack is confident that the new lease of life will serve well “for the next five to six years”.