Showing posts from October, 2015

Pearls by Michael Caines - Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers.

It was quite a coup for Jumeirah at Etihad Towers when 2 star Michelin chef Michael Caines MBE decided to open his first restaurant outside of the UK at a hotel that already boasts one of the most impressive line up of restaurants, bars and lounges. Of course, Abu Dhabi is no stranger to the lure of the celebrity chef, and Michael Caines certainly packs a powerful punch. However, when the glamour of the arrival of a new chef wears off as the champagne corks are cleared away and the empty bottles are collected, it is about the food, isn't it? I recently visited Pearls with a few questions in my mind. Firstly, would the menu be too British and unable to connect with  a wider populace? Secondly, would the tag of '2 star Michelin chef' prove to deter an Abu Dhabi dining public becoming more and more disillusioned with finer dining? 

It is often a challenge when a restaurant takes over the space vacated by another. In this case, it was Scott's that made way. As I walk into t…

Friday Brunch at Aqua - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Remember the days when you were so enchanted by that tiny Swarovski ornament that you proudly displayed on your chest of drawers? Or the 10-room ryokan that you stumbled across as you were walking the narrow streets of Kyoto? How about that small dim sum restaurant that you tried on Nathan Road a few years ago in Hong Kong? Maybe you discovered a non-descript record store in Notting hill where you sifted through a pile of vinyl records? Remember when you went to university and worked part time so you could buy that second hand VW Beetle?  When did we lose our fascination with the smaller pleasures that life has to offer? Have we been so brainwashed by society into thinking that we can only value something when it is the biggest, or most expensive or most popular? Granted, it is not easy as we live in a time of superlatives.

However, my recent visit to a brunch gave me that feeling described above. A return to something small and  intimate but with so much heart; so much substance and …

Japanese at Kazu - The Yas Viceroy Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

One of the first things that dawns on me as I have a look around Kazu, the Japanese restaurant at The Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island, is the size. On inquiring, I am told it accommodates around 52 indoors and 40 on the terrace. That is intimate. Next, it is the simplicity of the restaurant, lending a Japanese-like edge to it. In common with its sister restaurants in the hotel, natural light from floor to ceiling windows also catches my eye. I am here to try the Omakase, loosely translated, Chef's selection of dishes or more literally, to entrust. I like the latter. On this night, I leave myself in the hands of  Chef Idfan.

The evening is initiated with a crab taco dish - a trio of tacos with crab meat and wasabi mayo. A light way to get things started. The key is the wasabi mayo in which the wasabi does not push the crab into the background. Balanced. 

Soon after, wagyu in sweet chili and sesame is served in a small pot over a flame.  Shallots and gingko beans complete this very simple…

The revamped Teatro experience - Park Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Teatro. The name evokes something theatrical. A place where one can expect showmanship. A drama that unfolds. Having visited Teatro twice before, this was always missing. When they relaunched the restaurant a few weeks ago, this was one of the key aspects I was curious about. Would the new restaurant live up to its name? 

A revamped concept that works?

I wrote recently about the value of having  a restaurant that offers guests more than just a place to eat. Sometimes  a guest wants to have a drink in a  stylish setting without having the feeling of being in a restaurant. Then there are guests who want to have dinner, without feeling stifled by the usual table and chair set up. This is where a lounge can work wonders. Teatro has done two things to effect this. Firstly, the bar looks like a place to drop in for a  drink. While Teatro's sister bar, Cooper's remains one of the top bar destinations in the city, the ambience at Teatro will appeal to certain guests. The bar looks welco…

Wine Dinner at Circo - Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Over the last few years, I have experienced some fantastic wine dinners. In that time, I have also seen how the wine dinner concept has settled into two basic approaches. Circo, Abu Dhabi's current top Italian restaurant according to a leading travel review website, played host to a wine dinner adopting  a more inclusive concept, as opposed to the other which is more exclusive, finer, and also expensive. 

I have often talked about wine dinners as a necessary evening for top restaurants because it allows the chef to step outside of the shackles of a menu and create, while also allowing the restaurant to showcase its wine. Wine dinners are not optional in F&B - they are integral. 

I like that the evening starts at the bar. Restaurants that are not maximising the potential of their bar are missing an effortless way to enhance the guest's overall experience. Also, guests mingle and start chatting. Connections and relationships are forged, long before we sit down to dinner. It is…