Reinventing wine dinners - Tamba, Abu Dhabi

Wine dinners have long been identified as another source of exposure for restaurants, especially when theme nights and brunches have been exhausted. You know the concept - a 3 or 4-course dinner paired with wines, some insights by the supplier or wine maker as each course is served and generally, a good time is assured. Abu Dhabi restaurants seem to have finally got the pricing right - 300AED for a 3- or 4-course menu should be standard. 

However, with Tamba, one of the city's most creative and innovative restaurants, there is always a left of centre approach, isn't there? A month ago they launched their idea of a wine evening - they refuse to use the word wine 'dinner'. I had the pleasure of attending their second such evening, hosted by Somm Spirit'd, an exciting independent supplier looking to offer restaurants something unique. 

The evening started with the first of three wines - Hola Cava Brut RosĂ©. This is one of the nicest cavas you are likely to have in Abu Dhabi. While fabulous but overpriced champagne is growing in popularity and prosecco is popping up at every ladies' night, Cava still remains an under-appreciated bubbly option. It is a shame because there they offer a tremendous surprise to drinkers. 

Bite size portions of some favourite Tamba dishes made their way around - the Seared salmon and a new favourite of mine, the Mushroom khichdi proved popular. CanapĂ© style dishes sets the wine evening apart from other wine dinners, but so does the free flowing wine. I like this concept. How often has it happened to you that of three wines, you really wanted to have another glass of one of them but could not because of limits per guest?  It is more about the wine than the food. That is why it is not just called dinner. Having said that, the food kept coming. 

I reluctantly moved on to the second wine of the evening, the Tierra Blanco Fermentado en Barrica 2015, a delightful that would itself be a fitting aperitif were it not for the Hola Cava. It is fresh and fruity, perfect really for a warm to cool evening on the terrace. 

Our final wine for the evening was the La Hoja Rioja Tempranillo 2015, a 100% tempranillo wine. This wine, and should you find it on the shelves in Abu Dhabi, will be a well-priced wine offering a  smooth finish. Served with Lamb teekha, it marked a very good end to the evening. 

Eric Eybert
 Because the evening is strictly limited in terms of numbers, the host for the evening, Eric Eybert, one of the managing partners at Somm Spirit'd and trained sommelier, was able to get around and chat to guests in a very informal, non-academic way. Wine dinners can be quite intimidating affairs, so this is just the perfect foil for those. 

In continuing its move away from traditional wine dinners, there was no dessert as a final course. This shows how much thought has gone into the concept. With the wine evening times from 7-9pm, there is more than enough time for guests to stay at Tamba and indulge in something else on the menu. That is clever. 

Part of the incredible Tamba team - well spoken, well trained. 
I can see evenings like this becoming more popular in the city. There are not many, but it is only a matter of time before the copy and paste mentality comes into play. It is relaxed and all about the wine, while the price point undercuts any wine dinner in the cityThis Spanish evening at the Trendsetting Tamba with Somm Spirit'd points to many more. 

The Essentials

The Hub,
World Trade Centre Mall,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 672 8888

Wine evenings are held the last Tuesday each month and feature a single country. 
Brandon Stoltenkamp

Disclaimer: I was invited to Tamba as a guest of the restaurant.