Giornotte - Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi

Ritz Carlton. It evokes images of class and perfection. It is indeed a famed brand. It does everything on a  grand scale. If you have stood in the lobby of this colossus of a hotel, you will get this sense immediately. It is the 3rd largest Ritz Carlton property in the world boasting more than 500 rooms and villas. This is the hotel that in its marketing, refers to its staff as 'ladies and gentlemen'. So, I would be forgiven for arriving at Giornotte, their all-day dining restaurant which offers a buffet or al carte, with high expectations.

The live pasta station.

Part of some impressive displays. 

Some lovely delicate touches at Giornotte.

We were greeted warmly and seated inside. (They have outside seating too). When I made the reservation, I enquired about the drinks packages. However, I was told by the waiter that there was no drinks package available. Odd, I thought knowing I had received an email confirming otherwise. Minus 1. I decided then to order by the glass. The waiter, without knowing what kind of wine I enjoyed, immediately pointed to the most expensive red on the list. Is this Starbucks where the cashier tries to sell you the shop instead of just giving you the coffee you ordered? Those living in the UAE will know what I mean. Surely a more prudent approach would be to recommend a couple of reds and leave it to me to decide. Unimpressed. Minus 2.

By this time, I was really annoyed. Anyway, I started off with a Proseco and had a look at the selection on offer. I like the layout, I must say.  You don't feel you are at a huge buffet. It is sized between Sofra and Rosewater. It is a fairly standard buffet tat you would find at high end hotel restaurant. However, there were two stand-out stations: The cheese station is very impressive. I counted more than 15 different types and there was also a variety of jams and purees. Plus 1. Also, they have a very nice bread 'station'. I thought this was original compared to the other buffets I had been to in the city. Everything else was ok, without the wow factor: a very modest seafood station and the salad station being the most disappointing.

Part of the modest seafood station.
Beautifully laid out beef. 
One of the highlights of the evening, the beef.

I switched to some red wine for my main dishes. Minus 3 here. My wine was not poured at the table. I have two issues with this. Firstly. I have no guarantee that I am drinking what I ordered. Secondly, it does not allow for tasting first. By this time, I just wanted too finish up and leave. But my daughter was having a good time, so what could I do? I tried the prime rib and this was very good. Plus 2. Other highlights included teh pasta which was cooked live. However, we spent  alot of time waiting at certain stations because there was simple no one there. Minus 4.

The fruit was well selected and fresh.
The now-ubiquitous chocolate fountain.  
Absolutely fantastic cheese station.

All in all, a disappointing evening. This was not at all what I expected. After all, this is the Ritz Carlton. I think my expectations were too lofty, but you consider the negative issues, these can be sorted out easily. I feel the negatives really detracted from what could have been a great experience. Will I go back? I have not decided yet. There are so many places in the city to try. Wait and see.