What originally started up as a food pop-up truck in Al Khazzan Park facing City Walk, is now occupying a comfortable space at the busy Dubai Mall.
Cleverly setting up a PR stunt, Parkers, has gained the Snapchats and Instagrams of Dubai’s residents. In a shrewd scavenger hunt to find any Parker key, the restaurant created an interactive marketing campaign – i.e. no key, no entry.
However, this isn’t the creator’s first rodeo at the food industry. The founders had already won their way into Dubai’s stomachs and taste buds after the success of Salt, a creative food truck restaurant located on Kite beach in Jumeirah.
After finding a key at AUD, I was more than excited to try Dubai’s hidden and most crazed gem. Upon my arrival to Dubai Mall, I couldn’t help but notice an almost unending large queue in front of the restaurant and after waiting for almost an hour (with no seating areas to rest at) I was finally assigned a table.
The décor of the restaurant was not eye-catching or memorable of any sort – walls of grey with elements of nature were scattered around perhaps sticking true to the food truck in park theme?
Nevertheless, Parkers is not like any ordinary restaurant you’ve ever tried before, the waiters are there to help you but not serve you – you have to order/pick up your own food from the assigned middle area.
A quick glance over the menu, you will almost instantly notice the creativity that must have gone into each dish. More evident are the odd combinations: Toffee was added to spicy shrimps, beetroot was added to mac & cheese and truffle oil was added to French fries.
After drooling over the menu and not being able to make up my mind, I decided to try out four of their recommended dishes. The first was the Pretzel Chicken Strips – 37 AED.
A hefty amount of chicken strips along with a smoked mustard sauce is what I had expected. Instead I got 6 pieces of dry chicken strips and an all right mustard sauce.
Coating the chicken in the pretzels might have seemed like a good idea but instead it dried out the chicken and made it tough to eat without having to slather on the sauce with every bite.
I wanted a diverse palette to try, so next I ordered the Chicken Mojito Tacos – 29 AED. Thinking I was going to receive three pieces of tacos, I was disappointed at the portion size of just one, almost miniature, taco standing upright on my plate.
However, the taco was very zesty and refreshing but it fell apart after the 3rd bite and was very difficult to eat. Moving on, my experience wasn’t going to be fulfilled if I didn’t get a taste of their famous Choco Coffee sliders – 27 AED.
I was again surprised at the serving size, as the slider appeared to be smaller than the palm of my hand; regardless I soldiered on and took my first bite. The Wagyu beef was very juicy and paired very well with the buttered bun and beetroot topping but the coffee infusion was nonexistent.
Ending my experience with a sweet tooth, I couldn’t resist ordering my weakness; the Lotus Drama – 37 AED. I think this was hands down my favorite dish at Parkers; the warm Biscoff pudding was paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a more than generous serving of lotus fudge syrup – it was the perfect ending to an adventure.
The sweetness can be, however, overwhelming to some so I recommend ordering this as a sharing dish.
Overall some might find that the entire experience of the treasure hunt for the key, waiting in line and serving yourself a tad irritating while others might think that it adds to the overall experience and is an exciting challenge.
For me, the hype was way more than the restaurant deserved, the food seemed exotic but the execution-lacked richness and the portion sizes weren’t satisfying. Nonetheless, it was a fun experience and one that I recommend any adventurer to try!
Opening hours: 10 AM – 12 Midnight
Paying methods: Cash & CC
Highlights: Free Wi-Fi
No reservations allowed