The Grill arrives in Abu Dhabi - Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi

The entrance to The Grill, the new steakhouse concept at The Marriott Hotel Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi captures the different approach that the restaurant is taking to the traditional steakhouse. It is light and bright, immediately sending out a family friendly vibe.  The bar too is quite bright so it will be interesting to see how The Grill marries what is traditionally a low-lit area to the family friendliness of the restaurant. I sit down at the bar and have one of the restaurant's signature cocktails. But I feel a  bit exposed in the light. 

As I make way to my seat, I am drawn to the open kitchen where I watch the chefs in action. I catch Chef de Cusine Aytekin Ergun as he pours sauce over one of his dishes. The yes. The focus. The passion. I am feeling hungry. 

My guest orders the Beef Angus steak tartar. Rather than the traditional tabasco sauce adding spice, the tomato base makes it lighter on the palate. But my attention is drawn away soon as my Rockefeller oysters are served. Intensely flavoured and still incredibly moist - I derive immense pleasure dipping my fork into the oyster and gulping it down. Delicious. A great start. 

In anticipation of the main course, our wine is decanted. The Meerlust Rubicon 2012 is a beautiful wine and one of the best to come from sunny South Africa. I am excited about having it tonight. An excellent choice by the restaurant manager, Ivan. The wine list, meanwhile, has to be one of the simplest I have encountered a steakhouse and I mean that as a compliment. It is also the best priced I have seen, with a bottle of red starting from 120AED. No, that is not a typo. You read right - 120 AED. By the glass options, 18 in total,  start at 30AED! Definitely not your typical steakhouse. 

The main course is where the evening really comes to life. Chef Ergun comes table side and talks about the bone-in striploin tomahawk he has prepared. At 1.2kg, it is a monster but the price of 475AED makes it the best priced in the city. That is a lot of meat notwithstanding the bone. It is a pleasure watching Chef cut the meat. The precision. Focus. Passion. After Chef has finished, he leaves it on a grill allowing it to stay heated on the table. The fantastic thing though is that he has prepared it a little under my desired temperature so it will not dry out on the grill. 

The Meerlust, it must be said, with its robust nose and palate, is indeed a superb choice and is a perfect alternative to overpriced Bordeaux wines. Look no further than this gem of a  wine. 

Chef tops it with parmesan and rocket while he puts baguette slices on the edges. Finally, he pours his signature Robespierre sauce. Now, I am very traditional with beef. I never have sauce or any seasoning, but when I try this, I look over at my guest with a look that says - this is fabulous. He has managed to create something unique in the city, so important to distinguish itself from other steakhouses. 

For dessert, I have the Double Crusted Apple pie. This is easily the best I have had in Abu Dhabi. Generous, chunky pieces of apple make me forget the many occasions I have had apple pie where pastry interferes with apples. It should really be about apples and it does not disappoint. 

The Grill, despite some teething challenges like music and some service issues that will no doubt be sorted out, already has an identity that will allow it to compete with other steakhouses in the city. Yes, the hotel maintains it is not a traditional steakhouse, but the public will call it a steakhouse regardless. The presentation of the tomahawk steak emphasises the family style sharing concept the restaurant prides itself in. The steakhouse market has blossomed in Abu Dhabi and the last year alone has seen three venues open, so a clear defined identity is vital. Finally, a night at The Grill need not be expensive which is a definite positive. The sharing concept and well-priced wine ensure that, in theory, a night out for three people can cost around 800AED - amazing value for a venue of this quality. All in all, The Grill is a steakhouse that brings something new to the city. 


The Grill
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 201 400

Brandon Stoltenkamp