Showing posts from October, 2016

Dining in the Dark at Circo - Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Circo, Abu Dhabi's favourite Italian restaurant, recently hosted an evening that sold out the restaurant. It was such a pleasure walking into a restaurant that is sold out, something quite rare in Abu Dhabi - and I am not including brunch here. I am referring to their much publicised Dine in the Dark, an event that was sold out  a week before the dinner. Briefly, the concept involves the guests wearing a  blindfold while staff serve dishes in low light. They added a fun element by having guests guess what they are having with the promise of a few prizes at the end. Did I say fun? Oh double that. I found myself eating with my fingers, trying to discern what I was having. I have often heard it said that when you eat with your hands , you really are engaging the last sense , making for  a full dining experience. Try it. You will understand what I am talking about. Finally, dining in the dark really heightens your sense of taste. 
Now, I have no pics of the dishes. A first - I don't…

Reliable Italian fare at Spaccanapoli - Crowne Plaza, Abu Dhabi

It had been about 18 months since I last tried Spaccanapoli,  and as I walked in I realised how little had changed. I have always liked the little bar that seats 4 people. Adjacent, the little library is even more inviting, with its comfy sofa chairs. I start off at the bar with a glass of Valdo Prosecco, an affordable, no-frills Prosecco that serves as a nice aperitif for the evening.

After about twenty minutes at the bar,  I make my way to the dining area. It is a small and narrow space, making for a very cosy atmosphere. There is something very tasteful in the decor, with no jarring colours. It is all soft and inviting.

First up, I try the Tuna tartar. It is a simple dish, despite the presentation which sees ink squid drawn across the plate. Tuna, potato and capers are the main elements in this dish. It is a sensible dish, if not flashy in flavours.

On the other hand, the scallop dish hits a great note; the Seared scallops in truffle mash evoke positivity even before it is placed on t…

Hotel stay a stone's throw from Dubai International Airport - Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai.

When a hotel has an excellent location as Al Bustan Rotana and when it has just scooped a World Traveller's Award again for Best City hotel, one is curious to see a couple things. Firstly, does it offer more than a good location? Secondly, what are the impressive features of the hotel that would warrant it receiving such an accolade? Finally, being someone who is passionate about food, I wanted to see how its Food Beverage offering stands up? 

The atrium is imposing, and if ever I have to stand in line while checking in, I would not mind doing at this hotel. There is something about date palms in the Middle East that really connect me to the place, and when I am in a lobby and I see them so impressively upright, surrounded by stone, I feel genuinely moved by the aesthetic element, which is accentuated by an equally visually arresting wooden sculpture of half a globe. 

The hotel has 275 rooms and suites and our premium room featuring a balcony with a view of airplanes taking off and …

The Grand Friday Brunch - Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai

Having tried Mega Night at Al Bustan Roana and been surprised by this clever concept of combing the hotel's two Asian restaurants (reviewed here Mega Night ), I was, needless to say, quite interested to see how they did their brunch. At the end of the brunch, four key thoughts emerged in my mind.

1. A spacious, well laid out brunch
When you have an all-day dining restaurant that houses your brunch, you are faced with a challenge to make it a bit interesting and also to play around with space. In terms of area,  there is not much you can do with tables already in position and so on. So what do you? You go out. In the case of the Grand Friday Brunch, it has gone to the lobby. It does wonders for the brunch. A brunch that could have been cramped, is suddenly a spacious affair. It means that favourites like Blue Elephant and Benihana are able to get space that does them justice. Furthermore, the live Saj station can be part of a very large Arabic section that goes way beyond the normal …

Mega Night in Dubai - Al Bustan Rotana, Dubai

Blue Elephant, the authentic Thai restaurant at Al Bustan Rotana in Dubai has gathered quite a following for its traditional interpretation of dishes. Benihana, also at Al Bustan, has become popular with those wanting a Japanese experience that is not austere and  is simply fun. What if you like both restaurants though? Does that mean dining in one this week and the other the next? Could be costly. This is where Mega Night comes along and combines these two Asian restaurants to offer diners an evening to savour the best of both. My daughter and I recently tried something, that based on initial mutterings, was indeed different and exciting.

On arrival, we learn that there are two seating areas - the open and modern Benihana and the more traditional Blue Elephant. We opt for Blue Elephant. It is an exquisite choice. If you have not been to Blue Elephant you must try it. Dubai is awash with glass, steel and concrete, but when I step into this restaurant there is an incredible sense of cal…

New Marriott a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi city centre - Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi

I like the city centre of Abu Dhabi. It is the old cliche again that everything is right there. You need an old-school tailor, it is there. How about a selection of cheap Indian restaurants? Or a shoe maker? How about access to a mall? Yes, that is the city centre. However, there is a lack of quality hotel options. With news that a new Marriott was opening, I was more than a little interested. We know Marriott. It is a big brand. It is a quality brand. I decided to see what  the first fully branded Marriott property in Abu Dhabi had to offer, shortly after its opening. After all, convenience is no longer the main criteria when I choose  a hotel. 
The Lobby

The lobby is simple and elegant, a minimal stylishness about it. Having said that, flower arrangements and light fixtures ensure that this business hotel packs a bit of heart and soul, something important in a city where families love staycations. Upon check in, I am surprised by the diversity of staff - always an excellent sign where…