Tribes is a South African themed restaurant situated on the ground floor of the relatively new Fashion Dome in the Mall of the Emirates. There are a plethora of popular restaurants close by, Asha's (Indian) PF Chang (Chinese) and Biella (Italian) to name a few, yet Tribes always appears busy. Taking this to be a good sign, I went for lunch there recently before heading to Carrefour for a session of shopping trolley dodgems, otherwise known as my weekly shop.
In terms of seating, you have a choice at Tribes. The inside of the restaurant is dark, moody and mysterious, with African artefacts spotlighted in various nooks and crannies. Things are brighter and more cheerful outside, though you still get the tribal vibe and a whiff of the African Savannah.
The menu contains lots of delicious sounding African delicacies for starters and main courses and it would have been nice to see some 'light bite' African dishes on the menu for the lunch time crowd. Unfortunately, for lunch, you are mainly looking at sandwiches and burgers, unless you like a big meal in the middle of the day.
So, burgers and chips it was then, and very good they were too. You felt like a whole load of love had gone into the making of them. Everything looked and tasted home cooked and rustic – the burgers, which had clearly not been anywhere near an industrial grinder, were cooked perfectly. The chips were a flawless combination of crispiness and fluffiness and served in a teacup. (You hardly ever see just a pile of chips on a plate these days, have you noticed? It's a teacup, in this case, or a cone, or stacked like edible Jenga.) I will give you one word of warning about the food - portions are very hearty (read massive).
My overall impressions of Tribes were favourable. The unimaginative lighter food options do turn Tribes into a run-of-the mill café for lunch though, albeit with perfectly executed food. My advice would be to skip lunch and come in the evening for the full 'Tribal' experience. Apparently the waiting staff, who were incidentally friendly, efficient and extremely knowledgeable about the menu, are prone to break into African song and dance of an evening, with a spot of African drumming thrown in. I will definitely be coming back for that!