Foie Gras week returns in style to Le Beaujolais - Mercure Abu Dhabi Centre Hotel, Abu Dhabi

In the last year, I have been fortunate to visit Le Beaujolais, the little French bistro downtown in the Mercure Centre Hotel on Hamdan street, on a few occasions to try some of their promotions. While I missed out on the Alsace week, memories of the Foie Gras Festival from last October were still fresh in my memory as I made my way downtown for their first Foie Gras Week of 2017. There is something familiar and unassuming about Le Beaujolais - I can understand why 80% of their guests are returning customers. In a city of change and flux, it is comforting that there are certain things which do not change. This is one of those things. 

While a dry champagne is not the perfect choice for foie gras, it is the perfect choice to start off the evening. The Lanson Brut NV, one of two by-the-glass options, is incidentally what I had on my last visit - some things should not change!

I start off with the Country soup with foie gras and potted duck which I can only describe as a classic le Beaujolais dish - large portion, chunky vegetables including cabbage pieces and a hearty broth. Of course, this is a Foie Gras evening, so pieces of seared foie gras provide that typical foie gras flavour, but because it is used sparingly, it really allows the rest of the soup to shine in its own right. I love how an ingredient that we perceive as luxurious here in Abu Dhabi, is cooked in a way that allows it to slip effortlessly into the philosophy of Le Beaujolais. 

Next up, I revisit the first of two dishes I tried the last time - the Seared scallops and foie gras. As I felt the last time, this is a bold dish because scallops have such a beautiful, natural flavour to them, very delicate. Therefore, the last thing you want is to overwhelm them. It is for this reason that Chef uses only a port wine sauce around the plate. The sweetness, which is very subtle, comes from the sauce and the scallops themselves. 

The second dish I have that is the same as the last time, is the Foie gras terrine with cèpes mushrooms and green pepper corn. This is in many ways my go-to-dish here. It is simple. Uncomplicated. Reliable. I think it a great idea to have both the terrine and seared foie gras because of the perspective you get. 

To drink, I have the Hugel Classic Riesling 2014 AOC.  It is a good choice as it does not simply have the sweetness of a Muscat or traditionally sweeter Riesling, but is quite balance. I do think a lovely Sauternes would have been a nice addition to the evening because not all the foie gras dishes are sweet,

Nearing the end of my foie gras experience, I have the Pan roasted quail stuffed with foie gras wrapped in wine leaf. This is a dish where I feel Chef Omar has played an integral part. Vine leaves stuffed with a rice is a popular dish in the Middle East, and in this foie gras dish, vine leaves are used to provide a nice sourness and texture. The Arabic twist is not a far-fetched one, and I think diners will enjoy this immensely. Quail is stuffed with foie gras, while a generous amount of mushroom sauce is poured over it. Finally, mashed potatoes, as if it was lacking in the first place, brings even more homeliness to bear on the dish. 

Finally dessert. Oh the dessert! When I saw the menu, this stood out for me - Poached pear stuffed with foie gras and honey on prunes purée. While the idea of foie gras in a dessert is still a very strange one for most people, the notion of mixing sweet and salty or creamy and fatty is becoming the norm as people look to expand their taste horizons. If you are torn between being conservative and adventurous, this dessert is a safe place to start. Inside my beautifully poached pear is some seared foie gras, all topped with prune puree. Sweet and sour berries complete an absolutely delightful dish. I have had many desserts in the city and I can honestly say, this makes my top 3. It is simplicity and sophistication all at once. 

On my last visit, I had the pleasure of spending my evening with Executive Chef Philippe Garcon, who has once again come up with a menu that shows variety and value for money. Tonight, however, I have the pleasure of spending time with Chef De Cuisine Omar who is simply one of the warmest and most humble chefs you are likely to meet. 

Overall, Le Beaujolais remains a mark of consistency. I once asked a French diner if he came here often and he said he came every week. I asked him if he was not bored, to which he replied that he liked the fact that knew what to expect; that his favourite dish would always be prepared the way he likes it. Consistency. This is what I too have noticed on my recent 4 visits here -  I guess you can only achieve this when you have had staff that have been here since the restaurant opened and kitchen staff who have also been here for a while. Consistency. To add some Entertainment, music is again provided by Music is provided by the French duo, Michel Delpech & Virginie who last visited Abu Dhabi in November when Le Beaujolais had a Provence Week. 

Le Beaujolais is that one hole in wall restaurant in Abu Dhabi that has a history, people who can tell stories and if you have not been, The Foie Gras Festival is the time to start. 

The Foie Gras Festival runs from March 22-April 6. 

The Essentials

Le Beaujolais, 

 Mercure Abu Dhabi Centre Hotel, 
Hamdan Street,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6333555

Average price for 2 people incl a glass of wine - 450AED

Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I was invited to try the Foie Gras Festival courtesy of the restaurant