Showing posts from 2015

Caramel Restaurant & Lounge - The Collection within The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

From the name, Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, I had high expectations. Caramel has embraced a growing trend which offers diners a more all round evening out that encapsulates a dining, lounging and bar experience. Still very much a Dubai concept, it is catching on though. After a recent visit, two talking points emerged.

It feels like a genuine night out with the location on Saadiyat Island, as part of the St Regis Collection, a stand-alone development adjacent to the iconic St Regis Resort. Inside The Collection, it is found opposite Abu Dhabi's top nightclub, People by Crystal, ensuring a great synergy and flow of people between these two venues. It is the ideal venue to grab a bite before indulging in an evening of dancing and hanging out at one of the trendiest spots in the city. The restaurant is lowly lit, making for an evening of cool ambience. 

The menu is focussed, with an emphasis on fewer dishes. Simple and easy. The first part of the menu is made for sharing, …

The relaunched Bar Menu at 55&5th, The Grill - St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

There is very little doubt that 55&5th, The Grill is an exceptional restaurant. There is even less doubt that it is much more than a steakhouse and that it should market itself accordingly - it is simply a great restaurant. However, whenever I have walked into the restaurant, passing the bar, I could never help but wonder how the bar relates to the restaurant. The relaunch of the menu, I understand, marks the beginning of the hotel looking at possibilities of making the bar a destination in its own right. It is with this in mind that I try the bar menu this evening. 

My guest and I have two seating options - the low tables with very relaxed leather chairs, or the higher chairs at the bar. We start off at the low tables. My fascination this evening, first and foremost though, is to see whether the bar and menu can serve as a vehicle for 55&5th, The Grill in which the dishes have a thematic, presentation and balance of flavours connection. In other words, will the bar menu make m…

New Menu at 55&5th, The Grill - St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi

A new menu is always exciting, isn't it? I look forward to trying some new dishes, while at the same time, I am filled with an element of trepidation - what if my favourites are no longer on the menu? Chefs walk a tightrope trying to offer a glimpse of the future while maintaining an eye on the past. However, while I have my favourites, a newly introduced menu always presents an opportunity for the birth of new favourites. I arrive at 55&5th, The Grill with lofty expectations and questions. Will the menu go finer? Will it be more inclusive? The evening will reveal all. 

There has been a lot of discussion around the issue of fine dining in a city that is not at the level of its sister emirate, Dubai, when it comes to setting trends and ensuring that they continue.  A first glance at the new menu reveals a shift and also consolidation of sorts.The menu is certainly more inclusive and accessible, while at the same time leaving you in minimal doubt that the fine aspects will remain…

Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea Launch @Byblos Sur Mer - InterConitnental Hotel, Abu Dhabi

How do you take an award winning restaurant that has already made a tremendous impact on the Middle Eastern dining scene in Abu Dhabi with its revisiting of certain Lebanese classics, and make it even more accessible? Well, launch an Afternoon Tea, or Afternoon Sundowners and High Tea as it is being called. I had the pleasure of attending the launch, and based on the turnout which featured hotel GM Ivor Prestwood and Executive Chef Danny Kattar who both put in context this exciting addition to the afternoon tea scene in the city, this promises to be very well received. 

The first thing that excited me about the tea set is the choice of venue. The upper level of Byblos Sur Mer, with its gorgeous terrace gave guests  a taste of what it will be like having tea as the sun sets. As I watched the sun set, flashes of Monet's Vanilla Sky series popped into my mind. 

Secondly, the actual tea set reflects the best of Lebanese sweets meeting some classic elements from a traditional afternoon t…

Seafood at gorgeous Finz - Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi

I liked the old Finz restaurant. There was something quaint and pure about it. It was romantic. I remember a couple of the dishes I had, but it is still the element of romance that has stayed with me. It is never easy trying something new, when the memory of its predecessor is so strong and positive. Nonetheless, I did try the new Finz, and here are some thoughts.

Four reasons I am in love with the new Finz

1. Joining a new trend in restaurants

The new Finz is a completely new restaurant. The old building remains, but not much else. The open kitchen is still there, but even that has been put to better use. I have been a big proponent of restaurants that offer guests a 3-in-one concept which includes a lounge, bar and dining area. Finz can now join that list of restaurants. While there was a little bar/lounging area in the old restaurant, it did not work well. I think a  bar has to offer a restaurant more than just a place to seat guests while they wait for a table. The new Finz, with its…