Ah, Parker's. The promised land of childhood favorites – from Cheetos mac and cheese to desserts served with chocolate crayons. Located in the heart of Dubai Mall, get your hiking shoes on because it's going to be a serious trek from the mall's entrance to the eatery's doorstep. In a world where there's little money can't buy, Parker's loudly and proudly sticks to its exclusive door policy. No key, no access. It's got one rule – and it's pretty simple. Want a taste of what it's got? Follow it on Snapchat or Instagram, hunt for a key on its guided treasure hunts, and pray you get lucky!
Parker's has a telephone number, but don't expect to be answered if you ring it up.
The restaurant doesn't accept reservations, probably due to its explosive popularity.
Dubai Mall is home to 14,000 parking spaces. Suffice to say – we didn't struggle with finding a spot. We parked up on Level 6, and were greeted with an adorable surprise. The entire sixth and seventh floor were plastered in giant paper eggs. Upon closer inspection, we spotted Parker's signature branding floating just below the paper yolk. An eggcellent welcome indeed!
Greeting and seating
We were enthusiastically greeted by RJ, who resembled a park ranger from a kid's cartoon with his whimsical glasses and handmade name badge. Beaming with energy, he asked us the question everyone at Parker's doorstep dreads: “Do you have the key?”. With trembling fingers, I presented the precious key to him carefully enclosed in a plastic sandwich bag to keep it safe. He couldn't believe his eyes - grabbing the sandwich bag, he immediately snapped a hundred pictures of it on his iPhone. He high-fived us for our dedication to the brand's concept, and guided us to our table.
Knowledge and service of the waiter
While the energetic crew members at Parker's look like they live on nothing but a diet of double espressos and B12 supplements - our server's knowledge needed major polishing. Curious to learn more about Parker's brand history, we received painfully vague answers. Grabbing a waiter's attention was more challenging than solving a Rubik's cube in under 60 seconds. Despite this, once we placed our order and paid at the counter, our food arrived in a flash.
Lunch at Parker's was a guilty pleasure party – featuring a sweet potato + kale salad, a quinoa slider, street fries, sticky toffee shrimp, chocolate chips volcano, and two bottles of water.
A throwback to childhood classics, Parker's menu is packed with deep-fried and cheese-drizzled goodness. In the mood for a carb overdose, we launched into a mountain of street fries and spicy toffee shrimp. The street fries were a delicious mess of salted potato strips, chili lime dressing, and jalapeno cheese sauce. Topped off with “vegetable hay”, we expected something off a barn floor. What arrived instead was an elaborate crown of fried beetroot, onion, and sweet potato strings.
A dish that can't decide whether it's a savory appetizer or a sweet dessert, the spicy toffee shrimp gets a high-five for creativity. Six juicy shrimps huddled up on our bowl - drenched in buttered toffee sauce and zesty lime ranch. Loaded with personality, I could only tolerate two before my tastebuds imploded from the spice. Tread with caution when ordering this, kids.
Our quinoa slider and sweet potato + kale salad left us wondering where the rest of the portions had disappeared to. For a combined price of 62 dirhams, what landed on our table was a puny slider and a bowl of limp lettuce topped with miserly chunks of sweet potato, avocado, beetroot and parmesan. The salad's description promised tomato and fennel, which didn't make it into our bowl. The dressing and ingredients were delightfully fresh, but that wasn't enough to revive the salad in our eyes. We enjoyed chomping through the quinoa slider - from bun to burger patty.
Dessert shot an arrow straight through our heart, making us fall in love with Parker's all over again. Drumming our fingertips with excitement, our chocolate chip volcano was ceremoniously bathed in chocolate sauce causing the solid chocolate volcano to melt. This revealed the treasure that lied within – a slab of salted chocolate cake mounted with potato chips. Spooning my way through the dish, I never wanted it to end. The sweet and savory elements of the dish didn't gracefully waltz on my tongue. They aggressively disco danced on it instead!
Courtesy extended during the meal
When asked about how our meal was going, we highlighted the reasons we weren't fans of the sweet potato and kale salad. A refund was out of the question since we already paid at the counter, and we didn't expect one either. RJ swam through the crowd, with a concerned look on his face, and was willing to bend over backward to placate our complaint. Too stuffed to try anything else on the menu, he earnestly offered us Parker's famous black lemonade and gourmet Colombian coffee as a way of apologizing for the soulless salad. Touched by his genuine concern, he made up in service what the menu lacked in portion generosity. A fascinating comeback!
Dining at Parker's feels like a walk in the park (pun intended). Lusciously green with plants creeping against the ceiling, across the walls, and beside the tables – we forgot we were in the middle of one of the world's biggest malls for a moment. The atmosphere was an upbeat medley of pop music, social chatter, and whistling kitchen gadgets. Expect a side serving of glamorous Burj views and warm rays of sunshine if you score a table by the window.
Our light lunch with leftovers landed us with a final bill of 186 dirhams.
Overall, would you return?
Once you become the proud owner of an exclusive Parker's key, you and friends are entitled to infinite visits! Sure I'd return, especially for its legendary breakfast spread. Wouldn't want all those paper eggs in the parking lot going to waste.
Popular hits at Parker's are the black lemonade, choco coffee slider, and Lotus drama.