Dinner featuring Chefs from The Belfry Hotel & Resort - Blue Grill, YasIsland Rotana, Abu Dhabi

Blue Grill, since its opening a few years ago, has been a part of the fabric on Yas Island, having garnered a reputation for offering fine steaks and wine to match. This evening's dinner though has a special twist. All week the restaurant shakes things up a bit with the dishes cooked by uExecutive Chef Robert Bates and Executive Pastry Chef Dean Cole of the Ryder Grill at the Belfry Hotel & Resort - an ode to English grill food. 

As I am seated, I take in the atmosphere. The restaurant is quite full for Monday night, and the sound of glasses clinking and the chatter of guests over the jazz playing in the background, have the makings of  a very good evening. 

After a delightful amuse bouche of Deep fried cauliflower with blue cheese dressing, my starter is served. I feel a  thrill every time I order foie gras just to see how a chef interprets this guilty pleasure. The Braised oxtail and foie gras terrine surprises me  as it is totally not what I expected. My first impression is that it is a really clever dish. Chef has used the oxtail and foie gras and incorporated both in a terrine, as opposed to my expectation which was foie gras terrine next to some braised oxtail. It is a wonderfully textured dish, with that meaty oxtail contrasting with the unmistakable smooth, pasty foie gras. Horseradish sauce,generously used, adds sufficient moisture, while an aioli-like sauce, merely sprinkled, brings a bit of tartness to the dish. 

Blue Grill, if you have not been, has a fairly intimate indoor setting, catering for around 65 guests. There is also a terrace. The blue motif is not overdone, with table lamps and ceiling lampshades the obvious reminders of blue. It is anything but an intimidating steakhouse, with staff very inviting and enthusiastic in their efforts to ensure a relaxed evening. Floor to ceiling windows with views of the terrace and greenery outside all contribute to that sense. Finally, an open kitchen adds a bit of drama to our evening as we are able to watch the visiting chefs orchestrate the kitchen. 

In anticipation of my second course, I order a glass of the Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2013. I have always liked the wine since having it at a wine dinner a  couple years ago. Just because your wine is made with a focus on harmony towards the environment does not mean the essential elements of  a nice wine are sacrificed. That is illustrated by this wine. This light bodied wine with a muted red colour goes down smooth. It is one of around 25 by-the-glass wines available at Blue Grill!

My main course, Pan roasted Highland venison loin, is a simple and homely dish with a lot of heart, and in many ways reflects Executive Chef Bates' approach to his dishes. It is about evoking an experience, I believe, that has as its roots, the home; Mother's kitchen. His red cabbage confit underpins that, as does the broccoli which is very lightly cooked, leaving a crunchiness in every bite. The dish is held together by a berry vinegar reduction, imbuing the dish with a decadent sweet-sourness. And the venison - well, the picture says half of the story. It is cooked just right. The other half lies in the taste. Well, you have to try it. It is a real shame we do not have more venison on menus. It is leaner than beef, packed with more protein and has fewer calories. Chef has certainly whetted my appetite for more venison! 

My guest, meanwhile, has the Roasted rump of lamb. While I do not try it, I am posting a  picture because it too has a homeliness about it. A Sunday afternoon in particular! Look at those peas. 

My choice of final course of the evening, dessert, is a no brainer. It has to be the Warm sticky toffee pudding, a quintessentially English dessert. It is more than just sticky toffee pudding and ice cream. Chef gives us banana cooked two ways. Crispy banana chips and caramelised banana, the latter with a cracking surface, makes for a welcome sideshow, while rum and raisin ice cream give us an experience we don't often have here. However, it is restrained sweetness in the rest of the dessert that I really think is the dessert's strength. A fitting end to the evening by Executive Pastry Chef Dean Cole

Executive Chef Robert Bates and Executive Pastry Chef Dean Cole gave guests  a taste of a contemporary English grill house menu, which while contemporary, shows a deep respect for tradition, the home and especially, mum's kitchen. The dishes scream comfort and simplicity while packed with tremendous flavours. The only shame is that the promotion ends on Sunday the 16th of April.

The Essentials

Blue Grill,
Yas Rotana,
Abu Dhabi
+971 6564000
email: fb.yasisland@rotana.com

My meal

Braised oxtail and foie gras terrine    96AED
Pan roasted Highland venison loin  235AED
Warm sticky toffee pudding    45AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I had this dining experience courtesy of the hotel.