New menu at BOA Steakhouse - Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Abu Dhabi

It is a pleasant Spring evening in Abu Dhabi as I arrive at BOA Steakhouse to sample items from the new menu. I am torn as to where to sit - outside, with the view of the mangroves, seems an obvious choice, but then I also like the steely but warm interior, so I compromise - I decide on a pre-dinner drink on the terrace before moving inside. A glass of Laurent Perrier NV, BOA's house Champagne, gets the evening going. It is a fresh and elegant Champagne that sets a perfect tone for the evening. After some lighthearted chatter, my guest and I proceed to the dining area.

It is already noticeable how slick the operation has become. Waiting staff are more intuitive and seem to have embraced  General Manager David Juillet's tenet of excellent service that is relaxed without being familiar and knowledgeable without being showy.

We are served the amuse bouche. BOA is not fine dining, and in fact, it shies away from anyone mislabelling it in that way, but I do love certain fine traditions they have - the amuse bouche is one of them. Tonight I am served  Skirt steak with foie gras. It is a dramatic dish: it is smoked table side, and as the dome covering it is lifted, a rosemary aroma fills the air. It is inventive and an engaging start to the evening. On a side note, I am thrilled to have the Skirt steak, albeit as an amuse bouche. It is not very common on menus because it isn't known for its tenderness, and with a public still learning the nuances of different beef cuts, they should be given time to embrace it. Exciting. 

The evening proper gets going with Tomato soup with Burrata and Basil - a foodie aesthete's pleasure. The pesto dancing on that soup with pieces of buratta floating is just so pretty. This soup was made for warm evenings in Abu Dhabi because it is served cold. It is refreshing and flavoursome. I would absolutely order this again. 

Next, the Salmon Gravlax is a special moment on the menu. When it is presented, there is an element of disbelief in me. Yes, I have tried Chef's Heirloom tomatoes and burrata and they lent a degree of gentleness to his hand and provided a lovely creative contradiction between the steaks coming out on the table and this heirloom dish. This night though, the Salmon gravalax takes that contradiction to another level. This is a Nordic dish that consists of raw salmon that is exquisitely rolled, almost resembling a flower. Heirloom beetroot brings sophistcated and tasteful colour to the dish, It is a light and fresh dish, welcoming Spring to the city, It is also richly textured, highlighted by the parmesan crisp on the plate. Significantly, it paves the way for me to perceive Chef Marco in a different light - a very sensitive soul. The Salmon Gravlax would effortlessly makes it way onto a fine dining menu. 

For my starters, I have switched to the Mas De Daumas Gassac Rose Frizant NV and immediately fall in love with it. I find it much lighter than Champagne, playful and very refreshing. Mildly fruity and with fine bubbles, I see this as a drink of choice this Summer, especially at brunch.  

After this, I have the Crab and Black truffle gnocchi and it adds to the balance that is building. I know that the fine beef is coming, but my starters are simply wonderful. That gnocchi is perfectly cooked, while the truffles bring a hypnotic fragrance to bear on the dish. Again, Chef creates a textural pleasure by using breadcrumbs with abandon. Nice.  Winter truffles are just so delectable and at this time of year, a real indulgence. 

BOA is of course a steakhouse, and despite my joy at having had three excellent precursors to the main, it is the wealth in fine USDA prime beef that is BOA's strong point. BOA serves arguably the best selection of US Angus dry aged beef in the city, true to its American heritage. Tonight, I have the Grilled 80 Days Dry Aged New York Strip. The recommended temperature of medium rare is perfect. While there is a selection of 6 sauces, I forego them and focus on that natural beef taste. Worth waiting for. 

With my steak I have a Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot & Syrah grapes, making it deep and full. At 275AED, it is a good wine that offers balance between taste and budget. 

Nearing the end of my evening, for dessert I have a taste of the White Cheese Soufflé Served with mango and cardamom ice cream and the Baba Au Rhum served with orange sorbet. A soufflé is a challenge for a chef - what if it does not rise enough? How high is enough?  Every time I have one I recall Audrey Hepburn's struggles with making a soufflé at Le Cordon Bleu school in the film "Sabrina". Tonight though, Chef's soufflé has risen majestically. As I try it, I get a rush of moisture and creaminess. Mango and cardamon sorbet sweetens the dessert for those with a sweet tooth. I enjoy this dessert because of that duality on the plate - Sweet and salty. Warm and cold. 

Finally, the Baba Au Rhum has just the right degree of rum in it, making it truly delicious. It is nice and moist without having lost its shape.  These desserts are all about balance, and I think Chef has got it right. Orange sorbet brings a different component to it, and and I love the sweet acidity that complements the rum. 

BOA Steakhouse approaches its first anniversary and I can see the progress it has made since I first visited them last year. Servce levels are now where they need to be, but one should never rest on one's success. Its recruitment approach works very well in allowing it to stand out from many of the other steakhouses - if you recruit quality waiting staff, guests feel the result. The atmosphere is very trendy and cool, although I feel the music playlist can still do with some tweaking. BOA Steakhouse may not be cheap, but then if you are among the top 5 steakhouses in the city, you should expect to pay a bit more.

This high end steakhouse has enough fine dining elements to ensure an evening above the ordinary but it is also grounded enough to ensure you are not in a stuffy establishment. A great night out is assured. 

The lowdown 

BOA Steakhouse
Eastern Mangroves Promenade 2 641 1500

Appetisers 50-200 Dhs

Salads 40-80 Dhs
Turf (meat) 125-495 Dhs
Surf (sea) 130-410 Dhs
Desserts 45-60 Dhs

Brandon Stoltenkamp