A gastro pub experience at Sportsman's Arms - Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi

One of the trends I see in restaurants in 2016 is pubs with a more gastro slant as they set out to show that pubs are more than just burgers, fries and beer. The Sportsman's Arms recently entered the pub scene, and I had the pleasure of trying it out. Two key aspects emerged for me.

It could not be more ideally located from a sports theme point of view. The sporting heart of the city, Zayed Sports City, plays host to the pub. Ten pin bowling, ice skating, rugby, football and of course the city's championship tennis stadium are all here. In fact, from my table, I had a good view of the tennis courts, meaning when the city hosts its annual international tennis event, this is the place to be. 

Of course it is a pub, so you can expect some traditional pub dishes. The  Sportsman's Arms does not disappoint. What I liked about the menu is that it is very succinct. This was a really nice surprise because when I heard it was  a gastro pub, I feared the menu might be too cumbersome. Instead the menu was compact with Bar snacks, a choice of about 5 pizzas and of course those traditional classics I alluded to above: my guest and I opted for the Atlantic cod fish and chips and also the Irish stew. The latter was hearty and homely - what you want from an Irish stew, while the fish and chips hit the right note with my English guest. While we found the chips on the dry side, that cod was beautiful. 

The portions were large and both dishes offered good value for money. Also, a decent selection of beers and wine give guests some nice options, while not exhausting them in making choices.

I found it refreshing, pun intended, to be in a non-smoking environment, making it genuinely family friendly in a way that goes beyond having child appropriate food. I find it incredulous how many of these style pubs claim to be good for families, while allowing smoking. A bold move by management, and I applaud it. 

Needless to say, no sports bar is complete without TV screens, and while some parts of the bar will make it hard to have a good view of a screen, there are enough around to ensure that you find a spot to enjoy any sports event that is screened. 

The Sportsman's Arms is a welcome addition to the sports bar scene in the city. I particularly liked the location which allows families with children to enjoy  a range of activities in the day time, while offering those with a penchant for watching sports on TV a chance to do so at night over a hearty dish and a few drinks. 
The Essentials

The Sportsman's Arms,
First Floor, International Tennis Centre
Zayed Sports City,
Abu Dhabi.
+971 2 403 4235

Menu sample
Bar Snacks 30-55AED
Main courses 50-80AED

Disclaimer: I was invited to The Sportsman's Arms courtesy of the restaurant.
Brandon Stoltenkamp