But if you crave colour, culinary creativity and the opportunity to throw a few shapes, then Santè Ria’s lively weekly offering could be the place to let off that working week steam.
What begins as a fairly chilled dining affair evolves into a tasty, sociable dance-tactic start to the weekend.
That said, what better fun way to work off some of those calories than to loosen up for some Latino-led manoeuvres. And who says dancing doesn't aid digestion?
We’re not sure whether many people care too much as plenty of the folk filling Santè Ria on our visit looked like regulars - if not to the venue then certainly to most of the songs played judging by some of the canny footwork on show.
The interior and atmosphere belies the futuristic architecture of the host building, The First Collection’s debut hotel - currently celebrating its first anniversary since opening.
Sante Ria is based over two floors with the entry level tables bathed in neon light and decor that sets the theme alongside music both piped and live.
Our upstairs spot is between the bar and a DJ and the Calibú Duo, a brace of female singer musicians who deliver Latino classics and newer tunes that get livelier along with the crowd as the evening progresses, aided by occasional live drummers.
The setting is beset with Sante Ria snack chips - cassava, plantain, purple potato, pumpkin and corn tortilla - swiftly dipped and dispatched aided by moreish chipotle pumpkin sauce, mayo chimichurri and guacamole.
More temptations appear in the form of a refreshing salad of mixed quinoa, chickpeas, baby mozzarella, rococo and passion fruit sauce that works well alongside Tiradito al Aji Amarillo.
Comprising cured seabream, avi amarillo, leche de tigre, limo chili, coriander, and sweet potato, the latter packs tons of flavour with slight heat and a generally light touch.
This first range of treats is rounded off with tostones brought to life with jalapeno smoked guacamole, given texture with cream cheese and onion pickles to again contrast previous mouthfuls.
Likewise crispy fish tacos of tuna escabeche and salmon miso nikkei, and a light yet thoroughly decadent sea bass ceviche as bright as sunshine with taste to match.
One piece of advice for checking into Sante Ria is to go hungry, because many mere mortals would be reaching capacity after these gateway plates alone.
A ceramic bowl of fried prawns and chupe are a crunchy, chunky treat narrowly beaten by chicken wings that will send you into a flap with their sticky, rewarding honey panca sauce coating.
One thing Sante Ria majors on is giving some familiar dishes a twist, alongside a visual lift that makes you want to immediately dive in.
Using pulled beef cheeks gives the tacos a rich texture that is perfectly offset by a playful mango habanero sauce and leant freshness by mint chimichurri and coleslaw.
Chimichanga of braised lamb shank is made dense by cheddar cheese but given sophistication from splashes of aji amarillo sauce.
As do the beef Anticuchos…skewers of tender marinated meat are flanked by spots of aji amarillo mayo, Anticuchera sauce, mirasol, chili and kibbles of roasted corn.
Finding stomach space for desserts could be a challenge, but this venue’s ‘los dulces’ are difficult to ignore.
Cinnamon sugar-dusted churros seem to be designed with that fullness is mind, appearing thinner and daintier than most and primed for dipping in servings of dulce de leche and chocolate sauce.
Shots of exotic fruits laced with spiced syrups give some digestive relief before you round things off with a naughty but nice lucuma chocolate lollipop - rich but simple pleasure in the form of lucuma cream dipped in a chocolate and almond shell.
All in all, Santè Ria is a spirited and atmospheric tangle with Latino good times and food that thrills. Culinary colour and creativity is matched by authentic music and dance floor energy that delivers a positive vibe.
Whether you are seeking dinner with visuals, a place to celebrate or simply Friday night playfulness that transports you from your working week, Santè Ria is a vibrant escape in the heart of JVC.
THE Azucar Brunch happens each Friday from 9pm until midnight.
PACKAGES cost AED150 (soft), AED250 (house), AED350 (sparkling).
FIND Santè Ria Latino Restaurant & Cocktail Bar at: https://goo.gl/maps/7hEwS6JowgDLSj3j6
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