An awesome experience -‘The Act’ at the Shangri-la Dubai…definitely thinking outside ‘The Box’

January 7, 2014

Proving Dubai is thinking outside ‘The Box’ when it comes to entertainment, comes The Act – the highest theatre experience in the world.

The risqué cabaret show and Peruvian food experience, is courtesy of nightclub lothario Simon Hammerstein who owns the explicit ‘Box Soho’ and ‘Box New York’ establishments, and having experienced London’s version first hand, I knew we were in for a good night!

The Act is a welcome antidote to Dubai’s sometimes sterile entertainment and nightclub environments (which are pretty much all located in skyscraper hotels) and this one is accessed via an unassuming black door on the 42nd and 43rd floor of the Shangri-la Hotel. Once that door opens, you’re guaranteed to be blown away when you’re transported back to a forgotten era of vintage, lavish and decadent décor. Huge chandeliers; waiters and waitresses dressed as if they’ve just stepped straight out of the original Moulin Rouge in the 1800’s; huge sweeping curtains and Victorian style furniture, all adorning the stunning theatre space, which comprises a dance floor (with tables which are cleared away later) and alcove booths on the side platform areas.

Shown to our table near the front of the stage (I’d definitely recommend booking something on the main floor if you can), our charismatic waitress was like the assistant out of a magic show! It just turned out that she also knew her stuff when it came to Peruvian cocktails. Many of the traditional cocktails are made with Pisco – a traditional spirit made from distilled Peruvian grapes and having never tried this before, I opted for a ‘Pisco Sours’, while my friend went for the ‘Poison Aimee’ – a potent mix of Bacardi oakheart, mango puree and mint leaves.

Peruvian cuisine is rising fast in terms of culinary trends with a number of restaurants having sprung up in London including Coya, Ceviche and Lima over recent years and it seems the trend is catching on worldwide… In sharp contrast to the décor and atmosphere of the venue, all the dishes on the menu were innovative and stylish with lots of new and interesting influences. Every single dish we tried was absolutely bursting with zest and flavour and presented beautifully.

We had an unbelievable feast, (so it’s impossible to list everything we ate!) but I’d definitely recommend any of the seafood ceviches, cooked with citrus acid (normally lime), which effectively cooks the fish and also creates the most zingy, delicious flavours. The salmon with coconut, mango and leche de tigre (tiger milk) was especially tasty. Huge chunks of beef served on skewers were another of our favourite tapas style starters, while the eggplant carpaccio with a thai inspired sauce also delicious.

Almost blown away by the innovative creations we were eating, we almost forgot about the entertainment aspect of the experience (a whole host of international acts grace the stage with a range of outrageous performances every half hour.) Across the course of the evening, we were treated to an ariel hoop display; an amazing ‘geek’ , eating cornflakes who became a super cool break dancer after drinking tequila; and our favourite – a stunning performer with an amazing voice singing ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).. A snake draped around her neck while a load of attractive girls had a huge pillow fight on stage.

Main courses arrived soon after (but not before we had our photo taken with a giant sized white rabbit who happened to be roaming the restaurant!) One of the specialities and also most definitely the ‘piece de resistance’ for us, was the 24 hour slowed cooked beef… You know that melt in the mouth, succulent, juicy, fall apart, cooked to perfection meat?! It’s amazing that food that delicious can have you creating space when you know you were full beyond bursting about 20 minutes ago! The potatoes were also especially tasty cooked with 16 different herbs… And another favourite was the Gamberoni with quinoa, passion fruit and guacamole, which came with a sweet maracuya sauce made with passion fruit, lime, garlic, onion and butter and coriander.

What I really enjoyed about ‘The Act’ is that you never feel rushed to finish dinner and vacate your table for the next booking… You can leisurely spend an entire night sat in one place (although it doesn’t open until 9pm), taking in the entertainment, chat with friends and order plate after plate of delicious Peruvian delicacies…

And after the food had digested along with a few glasses of excellent Argentinian Viognier, the place really began filling up! After midnight, the big spenders began arriving; their tables filled with bottles of spirits and occupied by gorgeous girls in their Herve and Chanel. I was definitely glad we’d dressed up… The music was also really good – I’ve never Shazamed so many songs in the space of 2 hours in any club!

My friend described The Act as ‘Alice in Wonderland… but with tequila.’ An accurate description for a fun filled night out which comes with some very ‘entertaining’ entertainment and superb Peruvian cuisine.

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