Born in the iconic Waldorf Astoria New York, the Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse is nothing short of gastronomic legend. Now, this signature brand is extending its culinary legacy by heating up the grill in the world’s most exciting cities.
How does an iconic steakhouse with a history that spans more than eight decades carve its identity into global dining scenes that aren’t necessarily composed of meat lovers? The answer: by paying close attention to local tastes, traditions and flavors — and adding a healthy dose of innovation.
Set foot in Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre, and it’s as if you’ve time-traveled to 1960s New York. Hand-forged bull and bear sculptures nod to New York’s original bronze statues, symbols of the opposing forces of Wall Street.
Midnight blue chairs and sumptuous leather booths invite you into a timber and gold interior that’s dramatic, elegant, sleek and sophisticated all at once. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer quintessential Dubai views, a vista of skyscrapers including the Burj Khalifa, the city’s crown jewel.
Considering that culinary innovation isn’t new to the Bull & Bear brand — the New York restaurant once had a rooftop garden and beehive — it appears that the two are perfect for each another.
“Dubai’s restaurant scene is continually evolving,” says Gonzalo Martinez Bueno, general manager, restaurants and bars, Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre. “There is a trend for refined casual dining — the less-is-more principle.
“We wanted to honor the original Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria New York while also making our own mark,” Bueno continues. “We have taken a great deal of time to create a menu that includes not only classic grilled dishes, but also an eclectic range of imaginative dishes inspired by all-time classics.”
Bringing six years of local experience to the role of executive chef, Luigi Vespero designed the menu to be fresh and appealing to all cultures. His ability to evolve to suit contemporary dining trends and infuse local flair into the menu is what makes the Bull & Bear brand legendary.
“Today, diners have a wide range of tastes and preferences, and they’re paying more attention to what they eat,” Bueno says. “So we have incorporated a wide selection of menu items, including vegetarian and vegan dishes, and those made with local organic ingredients.” A good example is the Vegan Bowl, a refreshing mélange of tofu, organic quinoa, chickpeas, avocado, pomegranate, buckwheat, carrots and local kale, with a creamy sesame dressing and soy-cress garnish.
“Staying ahead of the curve is very important for us,” Bueno says. “By changing our menu every few months, we aim to introduce new and exciting flavors while also considering seasonality and big calendar events. We work with trusted local suppliers to get the best available ingredients.”
Vespero agrees, “My favorite local ingredient is the Dibba Bay oysters sourced from the nearby Gulf of Oman. I have visited the farm and have fallen in love with how the founder respectfully treats and rears these natural delights.”
Fresh produce, robust flavors and spoonfuls of creativity come together to create plates that are a feast for the senses. Signature dishes include the Prawn Cocktail, featuring locally caught tiger prawns infused with subtle Eastern flavors. Then, there’s the Alligator Pear, a new take on the avocado that includes cilantro, pomegranate, kalamata rice cracker, gazpacho jelly and pickled avocado.
For the main course, Vespero recommends the Bull & Bear Burger with two patties; one is a juicy 100% Black Angus beef burger and the other, a seasoned potato, soybean and carrot slider.
Ask him whether his own Italian heritage influences the menu, and he admits, “You can take a chef out of Italy, but you can never take Italy out of an Italian chef.”
Take his organic Beetroot Risotto with blue cheese, candied walnuts, pear, pickled baby beets and aged balsamic. Likewise, the Sardinian Fregola is “the Italian answer to couscous,” Vespero says. A true Sardinian classic, it’s made with cured beef ham, poached hen’s egg, Parmesan cheese and seasonal mushrooms.
Dessert is a decadent affair. “The Big Apple is a must-try,” he says. “Essentially, it’s a green apple, where the pulp has been taken out and used to form different components of the apple itself. There’s the apple compote, apple crumble, apple foam and, finally, apple sorbet. There’s nothing like it. It’s very refreshing, and I absolutely love it.”
In the near future, diners can look forward to a meat room in the restaurant. “It’s incredibly exciting and different for Dubai, as we will be able to showcase our meats in an artisan butcher-shop style,” Vespero says.
With a Lazy Breakfast where diners can enjoy a late weekend breakfast in a relaxed, sociable environment; a Business Lunch through the week; and the first Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, the team at Bull & Bear Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre is only just getting started.
Stay at Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre to try Dubai’s twist on the Bull & Bear legacy.
At Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, the decor is a fine execution of Art Deco glamour juxtaposed with the vibrancy of Thai Lanna culture to create a visually striking space.
“To bring in a signature New York City establishment and melt it into the sights, sounds, smells and texture of Bangkok wasn’t easy,” says Linda Hemels, director of food and beverage, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. “But at the heart of both the American and Thai experiences are stories that share the same human core — a constant struggle between opposite extremes.”
This marriage of cultural influences is apparent in the design elements, such as intricate Thai carvings on the bull and bear sculpture and hints of feathers and snakeskin in the furniture and millwork that depict Garuda and the nagas — mythical dueling creatures in Thai culture.
Custom art elements lend a sense of intrigue. Think hand-molded glass feathers on the chandelier and fabrics from the north of Thailand sewn into the Western-style coffered ceilings.
Thai flavors abound on the menu at the iconic restaurant that specializes in grilled meats and seafood and offers a live raw bar. “We’re lucky to be in Thailand, which is rich in herbs and spices; we use them to marinate and season the steak,” says Alessandro Santi, executive chef.
Santi loves the spicy kick of Sriracha, a popular local chile sauce, and he uses it to make a smoked Sriracha cocktail sauce to serve alongside the highly recommended Tiger Prawn Cocktail. “The local tiger prawns are very fresh, the meat is firm, and you can feel the crunchiness in every bite,” he adds.
While he recommends meat lovers try the Bone-In Rib-eye, a 55-day dry-aged Australian wagyu with Truffle Mac & Cheese as a side dish, diners will also be delighted by the chilled seafood tower with an optional serving of Kristal Gold Caviar. “Our guests love to eat this with a local dip made of chile, garlic, coriander and fresh lime juice,” he says.
In a city known for its diverse and exciting dining scene, from no-frills street food fare to innovative Michelin-star restaurants, everything works together to make Bull & Bear in Bangkok special: premium ingredients, an open kitchen, exceptional ambience, exemplary service and the stunning view.
“Our legendary brand reputation in New York is the beginning of many success stories,” Santi says, “especially those of culinary excellence.”
Savor the Thai take on Bone-In Rib-eye when you book your stay at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.
Its many awards, glowing reviews by eminent food critics and the continued patronage of guests attest to the stellar reputation of Bull & Bear at Waldorf Astoria Orlando as the finest upscale steakhouse in a city whose culinary arsenal has evolved over the last decade to boast several avant-garde restaurants, often with celebrity chefs at the helm.
“Our team has embraced the legacy of the original Waldorf Astoria New York while also defining a multi-sensory dining experience that is truly unique to Orlando,” says Jonathan Raz, director of food and beverage, Waldorf Astoria Orlando. “There are definitive French influences in the overall cuisine, which showcases the background and training of our executive chef, Bernard Fiemeyer.”
Among guest favorites are the Heirloom Tomato Salad and the Florida Farms Corn Soup, as well as other dishes featuring local seasonal ingredients such as Zellwood corn, burrata mozzarella, Swiss chard and strawberries.
“Bull & Bear Orlando represents who I am as a chef,” Fiemeyer says. “I’m motivated to achieve great results with a focus on using the best ingredients, preparing authentic cuisine with some innovation, and harnessing the power of flavor.”
His penchant for fresh produce pairs with his innovative spirit to create a dining experience that tantalizes all the senses. Take the signature dish, the Tomahawk Bone-In Rib-eye.
“One of my personal favorites, it’s aged 28 days and cooked to perfection,” Fiemeyer says. “This dish is presented and cut tableside. An element of the presentation is a candle sitting in a gravy boat.
“Once the steak is cut and plated, the server pours the liquid from the candle over the meat. The candle is made of beef tallow, and the drippings add an incredible depth of flavor to the already flavorful rib-eye.”
The dessert menu demonstrates the pastry team’s creative prowess. “La Fraise is a modernist version of a classic strawberry shortcake with a strawberry ice cream prepared tableside with liquid nitrogen,” Fiemeyer describes. “And The Lemon is a bold, innovative, citrus-inspired signature of Bull & Bear Orlando. It’s a very surprising dish.”
Surprising because chefs prepare it by taking a whole lemon and scooping out the fruit. The lemon peel is then cooked in simple syrup until soft, and the fruit is used to create a lemon sorbet and lemon curd. Finally, this is blended with a Chantilly cream; then the entire mixture is placed back inside the candied lemon peel.
While regulars expect new flavors, they always count on consistency. Raz sums it up: “We create a unique dining journey complete with elevated tableside service, the best quality steak and seafood prepared perfectly, a culinary approach to cocktails, an award-winning wine selection and meticulous attention to detail.”
Reserve your stay at Waldorf Astoria Orlando and discover unexpected coastal flavors.
To experience more of Bull & Bear’s culinary legacy around the globe, book your stay with Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.