Bentley Bistro & Bar, Abu Dhabi

When it comes to licensed establishments in Abu Dhabi, where one can enjoy a glass of vino with dinner, one is essentially limited to high end hotels and a  sprinkling of a few other places including the Souk at Qaryat al Beri. However, in recent months the launch of Bentley Bistro & Bar has brought exactly that but in the most unlikely of places - The Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island. You could appreciate my excitement when I visited for dinner a couple nights ago.
Mall side entrance

As I enter, I pass through a very lively bar area, notwithstanding that it is  a weeknight. There is ample seating in the bar area. As I am shown to my table, there are a couple of elements which immediately create a bistro feel, even though it is quite large venue. Wooden beams on the ceiling,  chalk boards here and there with some specials written on them and wooden floors create that homely bistro atmosphere. However, it will be on the menu, as I will discover later, that one really gets a bistro feeling.

View from the terrace

Window seating gives  a gorgeous view of the water and lights on the main island, and I can only imagine what it will be like sitting on the terrace in the cooler months. Something to look forward to. For my starter I have portions of Fresh crab tart, avocado & tomato salsa, Rocket, parmesan, avocado, beetroot and  Warm lentil salad, burrata cheese, tomato and chilli jam .  The menu is uncomplicated, with all items on a large but easy to navigate single card. As I wait for my starters, I watch my waitress interact with a table close by. The diners are a bit unsure what to have, and she makes  a few recommendations and patiently waits for them to ask questions. Once they have decided, she goes through everything again - waitressing 101 done perfectly. 

Crab tart
My starters are soon served and I am not disappointed. As good as the crab cake is, for me it is the tomato salsa that stands out. It oozes freshness and has that 'just picked taste to them'. Creative dish of the evening is definitely the lentils and burrata. The warm firmness of the lentils are balanced nicely by the cool, creamy and soft centred burrata. All of these are held together by the chilli jam. 

However, my highest praise is reserved for my final starter - the beetroot salad. The chunky pieces have bistro written all over them. There is so much happening in my salad that makes it such a sensory experience - the softness of the avocado in texture and colour, the crunch of the walnuts, the bold colour and  taste of the beetroot and the light sour sweetness of the balsamic stir my tastebuds and then some. Delicious!

Beetroot salad

Lentils and burrata
For my main I follow the recommendation which is the Lobster thermidor.  However, it means I miss out on their classic bistro style dishes like Ox tail, braised in sweet BBQ sauce, garlic spinach & mashed potato and also  Braised beef short ribs, green beans, balsamic shallots, usually served in bistro-like French saucepans. Well, next time!

Lobster thermidor

My lobster turns out to be the only low point of the evening. As I eat it, I realize I should have gone with the garlic butter option, or plain to be enjoyed with lemon. I find the melted cheese  too overwhelmingly salty. Lobster has such a delicate taste, and whatever is served with it should enhance and not overpower. I think you can add less cheese and mustard and still maintain the integrity of the dish - it is after all a lobster thermidor. 

One of the things that the manager is pushing is a sharing concept because through sharing, people have an experience richer than if they were just having individual experiences. Beautiful. I get a glimpse of this when I am served a dessert tasting platter consisting of White chocolate pistachio, passionfruit scallops, Chocolate crumble tart, lime caramel sauce, pistachio ice-cream, Nutella milk chocolate saffron mille-feuille and Chocolate hazelnut pudding, hazelnut ice-cream - lovely portions which show me the possibilities of sharing, and the enhanced dining evening. All hit the right note, but my final dessert tops them all - Raspberry clafoutis with honey & toasted almond yoghurt ice-cream.  This classic French dessert ends the night perfectly. More tangy than sweet, personally, just right for me. 
Superb dessert spread

Raspberry clafoutis
Staff are engaging, conversational and relaxed. The manager is very much hands on and enjoys mingling with guests without being obtrusive. He is very passionate about food and the wants to ensure that guests have a rich experience. 

Finally, there is a very nice wine list for this bistro with wines spread well over the old and new world. There is an impressive 21 by-the-glass wine options. But if wine is not your flavour, Bianca, the mixologist, will make a cocktail that is likely to suit any taste. 

Bentley Bistro & Bar is a great venue that Abu Dhabi has been crying out for. Its European inspired dishes in a very stylish but unassuming setting and the vision of serving homely food will ensure that it becomes even more popular that it already is. In filling that much needed niche in the Abu Dhabi dining scene, diners now have a  very real alternative to high end hotels. 

The essentials

Bentley Bistro & Bar
The Galleria,
Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
02 626 2131

Starters 55-95 Dhs
Mains 120-750 Dhs
Desserts 4-50 Dhs

                                                                   Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520

Brandon Stoltenkamp