Miyazaki Beef Promotion at The Foundry - Southern Sun Hotel, Abu Dhabi

The last year has seen the launch of a number of restaurants, with three of those in the outstanding and influential bracket - The Foundry has been one of them. I have written before about the manner in which it has challenged conceptions of all day dining as being sterile, functional and without soul. My previous post can be read here: http://bit.ly/1G92X2Z Once again, they have managed to raise the bar a little higher.

I recently tried their Miyazaki Wagyu Promotion; an evening that proved very significant in the short history of this award-winning steakhouse. For those not in the know, Japanese beef is not freely available, and when it is, it is invariably part of a Chef's Table or a  special promotion at an exclusive Japanese restaurant in a 5 star hotel Dubai or sometimes Abu Dhabi. Miyazaki beef comes from the famed black cows found in that region in Japan. It is quite a watershed moment for this prestigious cut of beef to make its way onto the table at a restaurant in the capital, let alone one that has not been around all that long. 

As is customary at The Foundry, the butter trolley comes around and I am served a taste of all 6. Of the smoked beef bacon, curry, black olive, sundried tomato, garlic and herb and spiced cajun, tonight I enjoy the sundried tomato most. But it is more than the taste of the butter that my waiter for the evening is selling. It is an experience. As he guides me through the different butter choices, it is engagement that I focus on. Honestly, I can eat stale bread if it is served with knowledge and passion. That is what I get from my Ryan, my waiter this evening. 

The evening starts off proper with an amuse bouche - something characteristic of The Foundry, and symbolic of the high ideals this restaurant has set for itself. Egg custard with foie gras that is perfectly seared,  greets me. Balsamic caviar lends the dish some sweet-sourness, but mainly the latter...Just enough to make me want more - just as an amuse bouche should do. 

Soon after I am served my starter, The Sizzling Ceviche. Now dismiss anything you know about how you have had a ceviche. This is dramatic and climactic. Thin slices of salmon, tuna and scallops are presented on a plate with amongst other light toppings,  ginger and sesame seeds. Nothing captivating at this point. However, the waiter then pours heated olive oil over it, and then almost magically, there is a sizzle. Auditory, visual  and olfactory senses are awakened in a moment of theatre. As for the taste - the light marinate ensures that all the elements still taste like  what they should with a bit of tang and light saltiness. A fantastic starer. 

The drama continues when the steak knives are presented for my perusal. After making a choice, I eagerly await my beef. y the way, I am told that regular guests can get their choice of knife engraved with their name - a nice opportunity for immortality, I think and smile to myself. A nice way of personalising an experience. 

I am shown the rib eye that I will be having. It has steady marbling so I know that the flavour will consistently characterise the cut. The Japanese have their own standard for measuring the quality of beef and consider marbling, meat colour, texture and in looking at fat, the colour, luster and quality of that fat. Tonight's Miyazaki cuts are Grade A5, with 'A' referring to the yield and 5 the highest marbling. That puts it in the Grade 8-12 category if one looks at the grading system that the US and Australia use. Looking at the beef, I appreciate that this is not just having Japanese beef for the sake of having it on the menu. The quality is undeniable. 

Despite sauces which include Sesame and soy glaze and Ginger, mirin and honey soy sauce, I refuse a sauce. This is again an occasion where I am definitely going in pure. Not long after, my beef is served. In the pic below, the rib eye is on the left and tenderloin on the right. 

I have often written about the phrase used by writers when they talk about beef 'melting on your tongue'. After trying the rib eye, I can fully grasp what they mean. This is where the English language fails us to come up with a better expression! There is delicate savouriness that comes through, vindicating my decision not to have any sauces. The added flavour from the marbling adds another dimension. The tenderloin reveals its own character. It does not have as much fat as the rib eye, but don't get me wrong, when I cut through it, I can see the marbling. This is the ideal beef if you privilege tenderness. 

My wine, the 2012 Stonehedge Merlot from California pleasantly surprises me with its full roundedness. Its ruby red colour captures me as it is poured and the berry elements on my palate make it a good choice all round - taste and price. 

Having dessert after this is almost criminal because I want that beefy taste to linger, but I give in to my devilish craving. When it is placed before me, I see something playful and colourful, but also rich in aroma - the chocolate fondant's aroma is inescapable. Deconstructed cheesecake, Chocolate fondant and vanilla bean ice cream make up this balanced selection of desserts. I love the way they are presented on white chocolate spray on a black stone plate. The chocolate fondant has the obligatory decadent melting centre, with chocolate that oozes out sensuously. Mango and raspberry sauce are generous on the plate, while fresh raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and red currants balance all the sweetness. 

The Foundry is well on its way to truly cementing its position as one of the top three steakhouses in the city.It already has an exceptional product underpinned by a  clear vision of offering the best beef matched by affordable prices. There is room for tweaking its wine list which great as it is for the guest, is just not sustainable. I want to see the same attention given to its wine as is given to the beef cuts. Overall, I am so excited about The Foundry. In many ways it is rewriting the model of the restaurant housed in a 4 star hotel - it is seriously challenging the bigger boys, as has been evidenced by two top awards from What's On and FACT Abu Dhabi for favourite Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi. Watch an excellent steakhouse get even better. 

The essentials

The Foundry,
Southern Sun Hotel,
Abu Dhabi 
+971 8184888

The Miyazaki Promotion has just ended. Hopefully the Miyazaki beef will find a permanent home on the Foundry menu. 
Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I consult at restaurants and hotels in an attempt to look at the entire product to take service levels to where they should be. I visited The Foundry courtesy of the hotel.