Claws at Fairways - The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Abu Dhabi

Claws is Back! So said the advert as I walked into the Westin in Abu Dhabi. I immediately reminisced on my last Claws experience almost a  year ago. I remember how taken in I was by a  concept that was unique in the city - a selling point featuring Lobster cooked 26 different ways. Unrivalled at the time. So, when I saw that 'Claws is back', of course I had to try it again. 

A newer concept
How do you fix something that is not broken? Well, find a way to make it even better. My favourite theme night in Abu Dhabi has returned and of course the question in my mind is: Have they taken it up a notch, or are they trading on its past glory? Shortly after being seated, a crab soup is served at my table while a selection of seafood, including lobster, crab and shrimp is also brought. Brilliant. This is taking a buffet and personalising it immediately. A very nice touch indeed. With the innovation of aprons offered, guests feel they are really involved in this evening. The apron frees the guests it seems, and they dive into their crabs with gusto. 

The biggest departure from the old concept is that 'Claws' includes not only lobster but other seafood ingredients, making for an impressive evening. Atlantic and Omani lobster, crab, langoustines, and oysters stand out, but they also do some wonders with the ever humble shrimp. The new concept gives them more flexibility. I think this works better because textures, for example, are more varied and give the guest much more variety on the palate. It is a genuine seafood night!

The piece of bread at the bottom of the soup is just a game changer. It adds so much to the soup. Then there is the seafood selection which looks great in itself - lobster, crab, shrimp - who will say no to these? But it is the shallots that really steal the show. They creep up on me, so unexpectedly, and are just perfectly cooked. The grill station looks alluring, with lobster and  a choice of fish done live, but I opt for the Lobster ravioli. The result - inventive and clever, and cooked al dente. It is always nice when you don't have to ask for pasta to be cooked this way, especially at a buffet - the chef just knows. A very good dish. 

After this, I turn to the Indian 'station', and  indulge in the 'Goan lobster curry', the 'Seafood biryani and finally the Tandoori prawns. All three dishes wow for different reasons and end up being some of my favourites on the night. 

But if for some reason you don't enjoy shellfish, you should really be at home. But if you have no choice, there is a also a selection of usual Fairways treats like sushi and sashimi, dim sum and even a beef stir fry. 

But this is really about Claws. Even the Arabic station pays its homage to these wonderful creatures, and grills can be done with an Arabic twist in terms of spices while there is also a Seafood tajine! Finally, and this is just a perfect way to end my dishes for the night, I have the Ceviche. It brings back memories of the excellent Martini Brunch at Lemon & Lime, the hotel's bar. I think more can be done for the ceviche in terms of really selling it to people. It needs a dedicated station with someone making it for guests. I see so many guests having a look and then moving on, not sure what to do with the wonderful ingredients before them. What does it taste like? One word - ginger. Chef Sinju creats something very special with that bit of ginger! 

Claws, notwithstanding the tweak in its concept, remains my favourite theme night in the city. Started over a year ago, it has shown what theme nights can be if hotels think out of the box. Seafood nights are ubiquitous in the city, but there are not many with a concept so well thought out and carried through. Claws does not rely on kitschy iconography to convey its concept. It relies purely on its dishes and chefs. That is how it should be. 

Claws is back, truly. 

The Essentials

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa
Every Wednesday 18h30-23h00
02 616 9999

Adult buffet 205 Dhs++
Soft drinks  240 Dhs++
Sparkling, red, white and beer 320 Dhs++
Moet&Chandon extra
Glass 95 Dhs net

                                                   Disclaimer: I was invited to experience the new Claws courtesy of the hotel
Brandon Stoltenkamp