Choice Cut Steakhouse revisited - Novotel Al Bustan, Abu Dhabi
The first time I tried Choice Cut about 6 months ago, I liked it. I felt at the time that it was filling a void in the steakhouse market by providing good quality beef matched by some decent wine at an affordable price. The full review to that evening can be found here: http://bit.ly/1km3PXY
So, going back was going to be interesting in so many ways.
Talking points from my second visit
Atmosphere and ambience
I went on a Monday night, admittedly never the best night to try restaurants in the city. However, while there were only 5 or 6 tables occupied, there was a very good vibe. The music made all the difference. Music from contemporary pop to urban beats kept the evening relaxed and enjoyable. The sound of chatter and laughter in the very spacious or cavernous setting depending on your perspective, enhanced this. Finally, while my last visit was during the holy month of Ramadan and the windows were covered, that was not the case this time. Floor to ceiling windows provided some night time views, again adding to my personal enjoyment.
Ignore the oversized and at times cumbersome book style menu. Look to the menu items instead. The beef is from the USA, Australia and France. With prices between 110AED and 250AED from 200g to an imposing 500g, you will be hard pressed to find a steakhouse that offers better value for money. Moreover, each main comes with your choice of potatoes, vegetables and sauce. Superb value.
|Foie gras in wine sauce|
|Compliments to the chef.|
I then ordered the Normande grass fed beef, continuing my preference for grass fed beef. Chef did justice to my meat, cooking it with a lovely balance between a robust and flavoursome surface and that wonderfully tender inside.
|A small but adequate range of wine - well priced.|
The wine list perfectly matches the value for money that is indicative of the food menu, with wine in the 155 AED - 565 AED range. Rather than select from the 10 by-the-glass options, I had 2011 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Chateau La Puy-Razac a good full bodied Cabernet Franc-Merlot. Other choices on the list included the Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Chateau La Bonnelle, a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend and also a Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Good wine does not have to be as expensive as it is at some high end restaurants here. In fact, The Spectator came out with an interesting fact that of wines given a 90+ score in 2014, the average price of $40 in South Africa contrasted sharply with the average of $106 in France.
The service is happy. A strange way to describe service, I know. But good service and happy staff go hand in hand. Staff worked well in tandem and tried to anticipate guest's needs, including small but important things like changing cutlery.
|My chocolate fondant - fragrant and fresh|
A very good evening. Choice Cut manages to undercut, pun intended, high end steakhouses with prices while offering a good night out. Of course you cannot compare its beef to some of the grade 9+ stuff out there, but then again you are not paying 500 AED for a piece of beef. A relaxed and casual evening with friends, sampling some nice beef and wine to match just got very inexpensive. Highly recommended.
The low down
Novotel Al Bustan (Airport Road)
Mains 95-395 Dhs
Desserts 28-46 Dhs
Sides 22 Dhs