The Sportsman’s Arms

Sometimes, only sometimes I feel like having some pub grab. And today was one of those days, so I started looking for pubs in the city and it turned out there is one not far from home in Sheikh Zayed Sports City. Finding SZSC isn’t difficult, but once in there finding the venue isn’t an easy task. Pro-tip: it’s in the same building as the tennis courts, just take the lift to the first floor and mind the squeaky wooden floor as you come out. The interior is reminiscent of an English pub with faux leather banquet seating and all but with large TV screens scattered about. I am personally not a fan of sports bars but I guess considering this one is within a sports complex can be understood.

The pub was virtually empty at that time bar for another table inside and one outside, the space being so large it can easily accommodate two football teams, so it requires vasts amounts of people to even starting to look full; I sat indoors and was welcomed by a very chatty waiter. They have several menus: breakfast,  lunch/deli [basically sandwiches and wraps] and a la carte, all very simple, homey food. I went for the a la carte option as I could see steak tartare which for some reason they call “beef tartare,” and I was oh! so surprised when I got it as it was hand-chopped.

One thing I always find insufficient when having steak tartare is the amount of toast served. Not just here. Everywhere! So I asked the waiter for an extra piece even before I started eating. He brought a basket!! I was hungry, but didn’t expect to look so…   Another hand-cut thing they have is the chips so I dived for them as it’s unusual to find hand-cut chips in town, and they came with a green peppercorn dip that was absolutely scrumptious but be warned, it’s on the **hot** side.

The pub is licensed, so I treated myself to a medium glass of cider, which they served without ice. It is neither Magners nor Bulmers but rather Thatcher, yes, same as Margareth. After my food I was full quite quickly, so took a little break to read my book. The chatty waiter kept coming to talk to me about all the promotions they have during the week not noticing my attention was directed elsewhere, so the third time around I politely asked him to leave me alone as he was interrupting me. Magic!

A chapter or two later I decided I was gonna pass on the Shepperd’s Pie or the Fish&Chips and I dived straight into the Bramley apple crumble instead, which had an odd smell when it landed on my table and was microwave hot, so I couldn’t start eating it but then I noticed the ice-cream melting away so went ahead and used the ice-cream to cool off the apples to a temperature where I could actually not burn my tongue. The above notwithstanding the crumble was good. As was the beef tartare.

The whole thing was enjoyable actually, which I attribute more to the nice table I managed to secure than anything else, even so for a single diner with a book as it was quiet enough to be able to concentrate in the reading -after the waiter was made aware of it, that is. That said, I would not place the Sportman’s Arms in the “value” or “mid-week lunch out” categories as the bill for one person came to AED 192.- including the additional toast I asked for [and was informed there was a charge for it].

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