Anthony Reilly, head chef of Palm Jumeirah restaurant Senara, introduces the recently-opened neighbourhood eatery, which offers up homemade British seafood classics
What’s the concept of Senara?
Senara is a UAE-grown concept that fuses the fishing heritage of the country with the best of today’s very popular British brasserie / bistro style food. The team behind it is as varied as the menu, with Emirati and British influences, coupled with my own background. I have worked in kitchens across both the UK and Dubai and trained under the legendary Marco Pierre White.
Tell us about the menu?
The menu has a real variation of dishes, from our now famous fish and chips or the classic Scotch egg, to the more fun fish finger sandwich. Our specials board has good staple bistro dishes like fisherman’s and shepherd’s pies, as well as our daily fish, which benefits from being flown in fresh daily.
What is your hero dish on the menu?
Everyone has told me it has to be our fish and chips and being British, this is something I’ve grown up eating every week. We use the freshest cod available, cooked in our special lightweight batter recipe, paired with the best homemade chips you will find this side of the Med! I have to say that I love our fresh fish selections too. Last week we had fresh whole dover sole and I cooked them very simply with a dash of olive oil, served on a bed of steamed spinach with crushed potatoes – healthy fresh food cooked simply – I’m still a great believer in that.
How does Senara compete in Dubai’s competitive restaurant marketplace?
I love the fact that the market is now so diverse. We can’t be all things to all people, but what we do, we do well. Fresh food, locally sourced ingredients, coupled with fish flown in fresh from around the world and all cooked with passion. Add that to our naughty but nice desserts like the apple crumble or Eton mess, and I guess the final ingredient is a great place to eat it all. With a view like ours on the Palm Jumeirah waterfront, I think we should really be able to hold our own against anyone around.
Where do you source your ingredients?
With Senara’s British influence, we do get a lot of products from the UK, and our fish is freshly flown in. We love the local produce here; I think people don’t realise how good it really is though, especially with a push for more organic fruit and vegetables in the market.
What are your plans for the restaurant for the next 12 months?
Our plan is to build great relationships with our customers, and to become known for quality fresh fish and homemade food. We want to create a friendly neighborhood style eatery that people can visit time and time again. We are working on two new sites coming to the UAE in other neighborhoods and also some new concepts on the way for the near future.
Tell me a fun fact about Senara?
Dutch international footballers Wesley Scniejder, Demy de Zeeuw and the UAE’s own Brett Holman have literally played football in the dining room. They all enjoyed fish and chips and one of them allegedly finished his off with a sticky toffee pudding (or two), but I could neither confirm nor deny this accusation!