Still more than a steakhouse - The Park Bar & Grill, Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas, Abu Dhabi

It is no coincidence that as I moves into the main dining area at The Park Bar & Grill, that it is the seafood on display that catches my eye. About 18 months ago, this restaurant wanted to be known as more than a steakhouse and the lobster on ice  in front of the open kitchen certainly conveys that. On this visit I am curious to see how staff have maintained the vision of 18 months ago.

While open kitchens are pretty much standard far at steakhouses, the one at The Park Bar & Grill is quite unique in that it offers a much more dramatic viewing experience for guests. 

Dinner starts off with an amuse bouche of Capsicum mousse - a  delight - smooth and balanced. It has that 'dissolve in your mouth' quality. Dinner proper  continues with some Tsarskaya oysters - one of two kinds of oysters available; the other being Belon. This choice serves as a microcosm for the menu here - it is a very succinct with the main courses offering 6 land and 5 sea options. I feel that a  steakhouse should not overwhelm the guest with main options. Spot on here! I have the oysters with a glass of house champagne, the excellent Billecart-Salmon NV Brut. The The Park Bar & Grill, is, incidentally, one of only two restaurants in the city serving this as their house champagne. It is part of a  wine list offering 13 by the glass options and if you are on tight budget, you will find a bottle of Chardonnay at 140AED and a Malbec for 180AED - certainly accessible. 

I follow this up with their Tuna tartar that is a melange of colour that takes me beyond the usual visual aspect of tuna tartar. Avocado, lime and mango bring a different character to this dish without taking away from the core ingredients. 

For my main course, I go for something from both land and sea, but not as a surf and turf. The latter, on a side note, is one of those strange gifts to cuisine that I cannot get my head around. In the words of Kipling. when it comes to being served on one plate, never the twain shall meet! 

Firstly, I have lobster that I can only describe as Lobster done three ways - Grilled Canadian lobster tail , lightly seasoned with butter, garlic, taragon and other spices while the tail is plainly done. Lastly, a lobster ravioli with peas and sun dried tomato makes it a memorable dish. Grilled lobster on its own is just that; nothing to write home about, but when you take this protein and get inventive in this way, it is a thrill. Highly recommended. 

Next, for my land experience, I have something I do not see often in Abu Dhabi, a Striploin bone-in. This USA Angus prime is, notwithstanding the bone, huge at 450g. There is indeed a lot of meat. I am surprised by the rich marbling which I did not anticipate because at 260AED, that marks excellent value for money if I consider the level of marbling that greets me on the plate.


To end dinner. I don't need to be persuaded to order the Chocolate fondant - for me it is pretty much a standard dessert at a steakhouse that I often love trying. The problem with this kind of dessert is that it can be hit and miss. The key is the flowing chocolate. But it cannot flow like a river. It should be more like lava oozing down a mountain side. So, how is mine? I find it the chocolate too thick. so there is no dramatic flowing. It is a pity but the dark valrhona chocolate, raspberry coulis and fresh raspberries and vanilla ice cream come together nicely on the palate. Still, would have been ice to watch the theatre of lethargically flowing chocolate unfold. 

The  Park Bar & Grill, as I bring my evening to a close, succeeds in selling the idea that it is more than a steakhouse. This is objectively reflected in the menu. Also, at a time when people are Dirham pinching, it seems also to have adapted to this reality with most main dishes priced between 135-260AED. The two priciest dishes on the menu are actually good for two people. On another note, relaxed seems to be the buzzword in Abu Dhabi high end restaurants and the music certainly engenders that feeling here but they can take this further by looking at staff uniforms which are still a bit stiff. Overall though, the  Park Bar & Grill hit the right note. It is a smallish restaurant that makes for an intimate, dare I say potentially romantic experience. Finally, a guest-friendly menu, ably supported by affordable prices, in the context of course of steakhouses in Abu Dhabi and  a less is more approach to dining has endeared me to  Park Bar & Grill. 

The Essentials

The Park Bar & Grill, 

Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 407 1234

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to The Park Grill & bar by the restaurant