Capital Grill - Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi

The mangosteen is an interesting fruit. It sits in the fruit section of the supermarket close to the well known mango, the eye-catching banana, the visually arresting dragon fruit and the yellow lemon. Everyone passes it, except those who ventured out of their safety zone in Thailand or Malaysia and tried it. Otherwise, with  its purple colour and hard surface it just sits there. But what passers-by do not realise is that the Queen of Thai fruits, is one of the most sweet and joyful fruit experiences you could have.

Refinement and warmth in the lobby of the Dusit Thani
This was an analogy floating in my head as I walked in to The Dusit Thani's stunning property - a fitting metaphor I thought. As you drive past, you see just another nondescript skyscraper, but if you are bold enough to walk in, you will soon be taken in by something very special It is not the magnificent atrium that stretches 37 floors. It is neither the glass elevators that can whisk you to the top in no time, affording you a stunning perspective of the hotel. Nor is it the sumptuous bathrooms, adorned by L'occitane products. No, it is deeper than these elements. It is, instead, something indefinable; something intangible. It is, I dare say, a Thai spirit that sets the hotel apart from most. You feel it as you walk through the lobby towards the restaurant. I see the Capital Grill sign, and step inside. The music hits me. Super cool urban type music. This is no ordinary steakhouse,  I muse to myself, as I pass the bar area, linger and then sit down in the dining area.

Some might call it masculine.
Art softening this dining area.
Then this adjoining room has to be feminine. 
Abu Dhabi Timeout referred to the restaurant as being 'masculine'. It is not hard to see why they used this term. The colours are dark, with black and browns very evident. This is enhanced by the dim lighting. However, there is an adjoining room that can accommodate about quite a few diners, that lends itself to a  lighter feel. This is is thanks to some art pieces on the wall with purple, turquoise, yellow and blue colours pervading. The large red and crystal chandelier complete the more feminine' room, if you will. While yin and yang is a Chinese philosophy, I felt it in the two main dining rooms here.

Special menu for the day, stylishly and simply presented.
After the usual formalities, bread was brought to the table. As I broke apiece, steam escaped and so did the aroma from the sour dough. It was an eye-closing moment, allowing me to savour it. I had  a choice of three butters, exquisitely proportioned to resemble tiny scoops of ice cream: brown butter, sage and sun dried tomato. The warm, steaming bread was complemented well by the sight-defying butter!

This picture is not worthy of the bread.
No, not ice cream, but the inventive butter selection. 
After I was given offered a glass of Boschendal 1685 Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, my first course, Porcini mushrooms Risotto, was served in gorgeously simple but elegant white china. My first scoop of the risotto revealed a complex and deep taste, with of course the very delicate taste of the mushrooms to provide a foil.

Next, the Cream of pumpkin soup was a celebration of the natural. The sour cream was was more decorative than influential in  taste. It meant that you were left with salt and pepper as the discernable flavours, apart from the pumpkin itself. There were times I felt I was taking scoop of pumpkin that had been steamed and mashed - It was so natural, but super smooth. So subtle and delicate. I absolutely loved it. To add to the experience, I enjoyed a Franschoek Cellar Chardonnay, another easy, crisp South African beauty.

Young but well matched. 
The pumpkin soup - One word: exquisite
Before my main, I walked over to the open kitchen. This truly is an expansive, open kitchen. It gave me a nice perspective on the chefs who were preparing dishes for the diners.

Beef brisket will never be the same for me after this dish. Yum.

This deep ruby red Shiraz went down really well. 
The main, the 72-hour slow braised BBQ beef brisket, was a courageous cut of beef to serve. It is a credit to the chef that he was bold enough to be unpredictable an eschew the usual rib eye or tenderloin. Brisket is not the easiest cut, so I was curious to see what chef would do with it. As the aptly oversized plate was placed in front of me, the aroma of the BBQ sauce with its rich and intense flavour wafted up to me - admittedly I am not keen on BBQ sauce to accompany my beef, but his was exceptional. Double yum. And it was not as sweet as these sauces tend to be. The accompanying red, a Bellingham Shiraz, was simply marvelous. All in all, a delectable main equally matched by the wine.

The essence of beauty is simplicity as shown in this cheese cake presentation. 

A beautiful Rosé wine. 
Finally, to complete my 4 course gastronomical journey, I had the Baked New York cheese cake. It was served with peanut brittle and praline ice cream. Again, I commend chef for his original approach to his dessert choice. This style of cheesecake is not as soft and fluffy at the cheesecake you would be used to. It is denser and firmer. The peanut brittle worked really well with the praline ice cream - a feast of nutty textures, offset by the cheese cake. A splendid way to end the night. It was beautifully paired with a Boschendal Blanc de Noir Pinot.

As I left the restaurant I could not but help reflect on my journey that night. It started with that characteristic Thai hospitality as I requested to take the picture of the Thai lady who was playing the khim, and she graciously smiled,  acknowledging her consent. It continued as I was lead to the restaurant. Next, my waitress guided me through every course of my meal, warmly explaining every course and showing herself to be a fitting conductor for me on this culinary journey.

As I walked to the exit, I turned around,  smiled, and considered my lucky to have had such an evening- Power dining meets soul.

The low down

Capital Grill,
Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi,
02 698 8888

Starters 35-75 Dhs
Mains 82-775 Dhs
Vegetarian 60-75 Dhs
Dessert 45 Dhs