Showing posts from 2013

Le Cafe Afternoon tea - Sofitel, Abu Dhabi

It had been a while since I had Afternoon Tea, High Tea or any variation of this fabulous and indulgent custom. A Groupon 2 for 1 offer came along and off we went to the Sofitel for Afternoon Tea. I am not sure if I went into the history of afternoon tea. No, keep reading. I will not bore you. Briefly, Afternoon Tea introduced in England, bridged the gap between lunch and dinner, traditionally served around 4pm, between the two meals. However, it catered mainly for the upper classes because the working classes were on a different schedule. They usually got home at 6, famished. This is where High Tea was then introduced - it was a bit more substantial in what it offered. 'HighTea' it is said, is called that because you had it at a higher table and chair, while Afternoon tea was at a lower, more relaxed table.

Well, moving on to Afternoon tea at The Sofitel. Unfortunately we booked for a Friday and arrived at 4pm, around the time they were clearing the tables after brunch. It wa…

Rhodes 44 - St Regis, Abu Dhabi

The St Regis in Abu Dhabi opened its doors fairly recently with the great location of the corniche, a stone throw away from The Hilton, Jumeirah Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace. It is a brave decision considering the competition, but if our dining experience on Christmas Day is an indication of all else, they are going to be successful!

Rhodes 44, the second Gary Rhodes restaurant in The U.A.E. , was to be the venue for our Christmas lunch. I am generally weary of restaurants with celebrity chefs which I feel exploit people's need to be become name droppers. However, let me assure you that Mr Rhodes comes across as warm and sincere. For her photo opportunity with him, my daughter was immediately at ease with him. That is the most definitive statement you could need. But what about the restaurant, and more importantly, the food?

The interior is elegant, refined and plush without being overbearing and ostentatious. The natural light afforded by the floor to ceiling windows where w…

Burger time - Burger Fuel

You may remember a previous post on mall food and how I absolutely cannot stand eating in malls.  See

However, I have been curious about finding the best burger in Abu Dhabi and this journey started when I visited Burger Fuel, a New Zealand-owned franchise that positions itself in the 'gourmet burger' category.

Having a 7 year old makes it imperative to eat well and guide your child onto the path of correct eating habits. It is in this context that we avoid cheaper burger chains where the emphasis is on profits and not quality of the product. In fact, when we lived in Shanghai, I used make our burgers and while it came without a toy, I was more satisfied about the way it was cooked.

Anyway, Burger Fuel offers burgers which are more at 2 and a half times the price of your regular burgers found in popular burger establishments. And, they do not sell meals. So with a burger at Dhs28 it promises much in terms of nu…

Longing for China - Qian Zhou Hotpot

Having lived three years in China, I developed  a taste for truly authentic Chinese food. But this is the first misnomer. People fail to appreciate that China is vast with varying climates and subcultures As a result, there are distinctly different cuisines. Loosely speaking, there are 8 main types of Chinese cuisine as represented by these regions: Shandong, Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian and Anhui. Of course this will vary from travel guide to travel guide, so do not quote on me on it. However, moving on. Knowing all of this, it should now give one an idea of how varied Chinese food is. Yes, much more to it than Americanised 'chow mein' and 'kung pao chicken'.

The closest landmark to Qian Zhou is  Philippine House, a popular restaurant  on Najda Street. As you stand outside Philippine house, just a take a couple of steps forward and see the the sign, Qian Zhou Hotpot. So, how would I describe the cuisine here? Well, it is a hotpot restaurant tha…

Chocolate Gallery's heaven in a cup - Fairmont, Abu Dhabi.

You will be forgiven for thinking you have entered a different time dimension when you step into the Fairmont, Abu Dhabi. In a previous post I commented on the architectural dissonance that is the Fairmont, so I will not dwell on that here. However, you can refer to that entry:

Be that as it may,  I find it difficult to dismiss this hotel. The lobby is marvellously airy with a healthy amount of natural light. It was here that I came to Chocolate Gallery. This was brave considering a not so pleasant experience I had more than a year ago. You can read about it on tripadvisor.

I boldly ended my short review with this : Lack of attention to detail. Lame attempts made to apologise. We left with our high tea virtually untouched. Will never return.

 Famous last words. Well, I am open to things changing over time. Furthermore, I was here for a drink. And what d…

Afya Italian Night - Traders Hotel

Theme nights are becoming the in-thing on the restaurant scene in high-end hotel restaurants as they try and jostle for customer's wallets. After extending Friday brunch to Saturday, this was the next obvious move as a marketing ploy. However, I saw a restaurant advertise a Thursday evening brunch! Do people actually fall for this type of exploitative marketing? I don't mind theme nights though, because they means there is an effort to take  a select cuisine up a notch for that night. But could we please leave brunch where it belongs?

Having tried Afya's Asian night, I went for their Italian night, which is held on Tuesdays. 'Winter' in Abu Dhabi means Al Fresco dining. Afya has the benefit of having that wonderful beach spot between the bridges. It affords obstructed views of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, unfortunately obscured by the monstrous Ritz Carlton. The only redeeming factor about the Ritz design is that it does look prettier at night than in the day time. But…

Shang Palace a la carte - Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi

Oh no, not again I here you sigh after seeing the title. No, this is different. Last night I had the absolute pleasure of trying their a la carte menu. Now you know that I rate this restaurant very highly, with their tremendous dim sum a reason I keep going back. However, after last night, it has gone from being a very good restaurant to being excellent. Why? The food.

I chose to sit outside to enjoy the glorious weather and sumptuous views of the Sheikh Zayed mosque. While the view I had at Afya (previous post) was obstructed, the view I enjoyed last night was perfect. Dining al fresco during November and December in Abu Dhabi is something very special. There is a freshness in the air, a buzz and even a hop in the steps of the service staff. One of the things you have to do in Abu Dhabi is dine outside. A sheer delight. There must, after all, be some reward for enduring 9 months of torturous heat.

Shang Palace offers two options: a selection of set menus which vary in courses and obv…

Toshi - Grand Millenium Al Wahda

Over the last 2 weeks I visited Toshi on two occasions which I think allows me an opportunity to offer an objective account of the experience. The premise behind Toshi is that a Chinese chef visited a number of Asian countries and decided to combine the cuisines of these places, featuring Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and Chinese. I am always weary of this because there is then a great danger of doing everything ok but nothing exceptionally well. For the hotel though, it allows the restaurant to really maximise marketing potential by targeting different customers through various promotions.

Toshi is not large, and on first entering, you get a feeling that it is a bit cramped. The use of dark colours add to this sense. red and black is the overwhelming colour motif. Fortunately, the large windows give one a sense of space. With most tables at the window, it does not feel as oppressive as it might have been without the window seating.  Another drawback with the seating is the incredibly hea…