Discerning diner? It would be a ‘folly’ not to try this Dubai restaurant

The restaurant and lounge offers a smart, modern vibe. (Photos supplied)
Updated 26 December 2017
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Discerning diner? It would be a ‘folly’ not to try this Dubai restaurant

DUBAI: Probably the hottest restaurant opening in Dubai in 2017, Folly by Nick & Scott is well-worth a trip if you are visiting the city. The restaurant had a lot to live up to, not least its pedigree — headed by two of the brightest stars in the region’s culinary circuit, Nick Alvis and Scott Price, formerly Gordon Ramsay protégés, who then pioneered the indie chef-led restaurant trend with the acclaimed Table 9.
Having worked with Spinneys Food in the interim, Folly feels like the culmination of a long-cherished dream by the chef duo, along with their longstanding partner who runs the front-of-house operations, Viktorija Paplauskiene.
Then there is the location. Folly replaces the beloved Rivington Grill in Madinat Jumeirah, and across the multilevel space enjoys an enviable position with stunning views of the Burj Al-Arab and beyond, as well as an atmospheric Arabesque setting.
Offsetting that traditionalist context, the restaurant and lounge offers a smart, modern vibe with warm woods, exposed brick walls, funky light fixtures and bistro-style seating. An open kitchen pass offers a window into the back-end workings and all the culinary entertainment a diner needs, adding to the lively ambience.
But Insta-worthy as it is, the setting is probably not the reason Folly seems to have swept the awards season this year. It is the food. Some restaurants draw you in with elaborate menus, detailing each dish to make it sound appetizing (in some cases, making them sound tastier than they actually are). In Folly, it is the exact opposite.
The menu, divided into three sections of varying portion sizes rather than the traditional starter/main course distinctions, downplays the dishes by only listing the main ingredients used. It may not do justice to the level of intricacy displayed in every dish, but the often-intriguing combinations tantalize just enough to make you want to order one of each.
While the menu is designed to offer diners the flexibility to build their meal according to what they want, from light tapas bites with drinks to a full-on degustation, we opted for a three-course (ish) meal, aided by recommendations from the staff.
There is really not much we could fault with our dinner, but highlights included the small plate of monkfish cheeks with paprika and salted lemon, which basically translates to a tart crème fraiche-like accompaniment, offering the perfect offset to the subtle sweetness of the fish.
A Butterhead lettuce mousse with mustard was a delicious study in how a bit of creativity can elevate what is usually a humble, overlooked ingredient into haute cuisine, as does the crispy hen’s egg with morels.
But the standout dish was the straciatella (a mild creamy cheese), the little spires of which needed little else but the complement of sweet baby tomatoes and the drizzle of a light balsamic dressing to make for a moreish starter.
Among the larger plates or mains, the lemon sole with sprouts and mint was a refreshingly herbaceous dish, while the roasted guinea fowl with stuffing, served with shredded cabbage and fondant potatoes — this could well become the perfect festive meal for the season — is excellent, if a touch over-seasoned in our case.
Dessert offerings continue the pattern of giving familiar dishes and ingredients an inventive twist. So the well-loved meringue, cream and berries concoction that is Eton Mess is updated with a basil meringue and fresh basil; while cheesecake pairs unexpectedly, but deliciously, with apple ice cream.
Both chefs are extremely hands-on in the kitchen, which means the menu regularly gets updated with quirky new combinations that they have conjured up. This, and the pared back, fuss-free yet undeniably gourmet experience that Folly offers, put it on par with some of the trendiest restaurants around the world, and a must-visit in Dubai.


Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

Updated 18 June 2018
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Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

  • Addiction to video games has been recognized by World Health Organization as a mental health disorder
  • The International Classification of Diseases now covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death

GENEVA: Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.
In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the UN health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.
WHO said classifying “gaming disorder” as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”
Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that the new designation might cause unnecessary concern among parents.
“People need to understand this doesn’t mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help,” she said.
Others welcomed WHO’s new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don’t seek help themselves.
“We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they’re seeing their child drop out of school, but because they’re seeing an entire family structure fall apart,” said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was not connected to WHO’s decision.
Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.
The American Psychiatric Association has not yet deemed gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said it’s “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion” in its own diagnostic manual.
The group noted that much of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on evidence from young men in Asia.
“The studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance,” the association said in that statement. “The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior.”
Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.
“Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view,” said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “Gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points.”
He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small — much less than 1 percent — and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.
WHO’s Saxena, however, estimated that 2 to 3 percent of gamers might be affected.
Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like “Pokemon Go.”
“You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it’s not an addiction,” he said.
Saxena said parents and friends of video game enthusiasts should still be mindful of a potentially harmful problem.
“Be on the lookout,” he said, noting that concerns should be raised if the gaming habit appears to be taking over.
“If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person — whether it is studies, whether it’s socialization, whether it’s work — then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help,” he said.