Fifth Street Café - Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi

Marriott's first property has just debuted in Abu Dhabi, and I had the pleasure of spending a bit of time with the executive chef and then trying some dishes in the hotel's café, Fifth Street Café. 

The first thing that strikes me as I walk into the café is the relaxed feel, brought home emphatically by jeans and open neck shirt clad-staff. Contemporary music only adds to this sense. If it is true that Food and beverage is the soul of a hotel, then this is certainly the case here, and even more so if you consider that the Courtyard is a business hotel. The latter is immediately illustrated when I see the ease with which I connect to wi-fi. 

Heirloom salad
While I am content to have sparkling water on the night, I am encouraged by the fact that they offer 12 by-the-glass wine options. I am with a group of friends, so we have a few dishes to share. In addition to a very succinct menu, there are also some specials on the wall. We start off with Heirloom tomato salad with burrata, balsamic, olive oil and croutons. Just looking at the dish reminds me of Shelley in 'Ode to the West Wind' where he declares: "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" With us now in the Abu Dhabi Winter, this dish is such an expression of that which will be with us in a month or so - Spring! Abundantly colourful and rich in flavour.

Eggplant caponata
We also have the Eggplant caponata on toast -  a fantastic dish with so much to see and taste on the plate. Imagine bruschetta but with more intensity and without the tomato, and you have this dish. Having seen Chef create this dish in the kitchen, I cannot rein myself in and am champing at the bit to have a try. It turns out to be worth the wait - The egg plant has been cooked just right. The onions have caramelised nicely bringing a sweetness to bear on the dish. There are crunchy pine seeds, baby mozzarella and rucola. A very flavoursome dish! 

Slow cooked meatballs
Next, we try Slow cooked meatballs. We are all pleased that it is not served with spaghetti. I try it with homemade bread and I feel the way it is served is vindicated. Satisfying!

Finally, and this is the real surprise, we are served Seabass. This is taken from the specials on the wall - I like the idea of these additional dishes which will be served seasonally or on availability. The seabass, retaining its moisture  is contrasted with an unusual accompaniment - olives. Delicious. 

In having an executive  chef with extensive experience at some top properties in the UAE, including The JW Marriot Marquis in Dubai and The Fairmont in Abu Dhabi, Courtyard is able to bring quality to its menu, and I think business travellers as well as residents out for a weekend stay will be surprised by the quality of dishes. 
Chef and his fabulously motivated team
 Fifth Street Café at the Courtyard World Trade Centre offers guests a little haven of peace and relaxation in the hum drum that is Hamdan Street. A menu, albeit compact but packed with a few surprises, will ensure that you have something above the usual café experience. However, if all you want is a cup of coffee or tea with something from the pastry window, it still beats the usual coffee shops that the immediate area is filled with. And with direct access to the World Trade Centre mall, it is the ideal place to relax after a day at the movies or a day of shopping.  Fifth Street Café, it's closer than you think. 

The Lowdown

Fifth Street Café,
Courtyard by Marriott, World Trade Centre,
Abu Dhabi
02 698 2222
Standard menu 22AED-65AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp