The Park Bar & Grill - Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas on Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi

It had been 6 months since my last visit to The Park Bar & Grill at the lavish but understated Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. In that time, a new executive Chef has taken over, and I was curious to see how the restaurant has changed, if at all, in his time. My previous post can be viewed here:

The Open Kitchen
Impressive surf selection
As I descend the stairs I am welcomed by the hostess. The restaurant is not fully booked, so I have an option of seating. I choose a table that affords me the view of the open kitchen. My starters tonight will not be a major departure from what I had the last time; I feel this will give me a clear perspective of the new Chef's impact. Looking at the menu, I can see that there are changes, but not a complete overhaul. I believe in the cliché that if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. But you can tweak it! My guest and I order a trio of starters to share. We order the Yellow fin tuna carpaccio, Organic vine tomato and burrata and Classic Parisian beef tartare

Meanwhile, I sip on the same drink I started with last time, Freixenet Carta Nevada, a semi seco Cava. Light and refreshing, a perfect aperitif. Can't wait to have this on an early Summer night. 
The Buratta
Our waitress is slick, assertive but not bossy, and is able to politely break our conversation when necessary. We are impressed by the natural way she talks about the choices of beef. We like her! She announces the arrival of our dishes. I can already see differences between then and now. Chef has gone with a fairly classic interpretation of the buratta dish - cherry tomatoes, pesto, basil and a bit of onions and olives are all held together by a generous sprinkling of balsamic; a far cry from the chunky tomato slices I had last time, and  with mozzarella and not buratta. It is a wonderful dish. That buratta, at just the right temperature, oozes sensually as I cut through it. It tastes even better than it looks. Such a delight!
Tuna carpaccio
The tuna carpaccio has replaced the seared tuna that was on the old menu. Yellow fin tuna. mmmmm. I like the simple plating. However, while my guest loves the black pepper, I find it  a bit too overpowering. I would like to get more of the subtlety of the tuna and less of the pepper, but the capers, lime and green apple bring a sourness to bear, making the lemon superfluous.A bit of balance is restored.
Beef tartare
Finally, there is the beef tartare. It is very beefy, with none of the ingredients managing to upstage the beef. The sweet sour onions pieces and piquant coriander manage to  bring a  unique element to the tartare, but only bit players. This is the beef tartare!

In anticipation of my main course, I look at the very extensive wine list, but find nothing on their very compact red by-the-glass list that pulls at my palate. I switch to the NV Varaschin Prosecco Valdobbiadene. Bubbles go with most things I believe! Drier than my cava, I like the minerality and of course, the lovely beading. 

For the main we order something fairly unique in Abu Dhabi (I think only one other restaurant serves it here): The 21 days dry aged vaccuum Spanish striploin. We also go the more predictable way and order the Wagyu Mulwarra striploin, a grade 6 wagyu. 

Spanish striploin
The wagyu is, well, familiar to me and at grade 6, there is enough marbling to provide that extra flavour. Chef has chosen to lightly salt it, and I have no issues! Embarrassingly, at a few other establishments, I had to send beef back on a few occasions because the salt was just too heavy handed. Not the case here!

Next I have the Spanish striploin. It is firmer, but as I cut into it, there is a stunning pink colour that meets my eye. Notwithstanding the gorgeous low lighting of the restaurant, I can still marvel at its colour. I bite into it and am struck by a fuller flavour. The dry ageing has given it  a very intense beef taste. A bit more chewy, but the flavour compensates!

To end the evening, I have a glass of Remy Martin VSOP Cognac. Sipping slowly, I look at the menu again. In the last few weeks I have been able to see the extent to which beef is over priced in the city, obviously market driven. There is a tendency among many guests to associate excellent beef with spending a lot of money. The Park Bar & Grill illustrated to me that you can have really top class beef without spending over the odds prices. This has also been my discovery at a couple other places in the few couple of weeks. What makes this restaurant even more noteworthy is that it is part of the Park Hyatt, so you are getting affordable premium beef in an ultra stylish but relaxed setting. Of course, there are not many restaurants that are so adept at serving fine dishes which originate on both land and in the sea. The Park Bar & Grill is one of a few!

The Essentials

The Park Bar & Grill, 
Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas
Abu Dhabi
971 2 407 1234

Starters 65-95 Dhs
Mains 110-490 Dhs
Desserts 45 Dhs

                 Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520

Brandon Stoltenkamp