Stills Restaurant & Bar - now much more than a bar - Crowne Plaza Yas Island, Abu Dhabi


When I heard that Stills Bar & Brasserie was relaunching not only a new menu but also adopting a  new name and indeed vision, naturally I was curious to see how they would manage this. It was my understanding that it was looking at being seen as more of  a restaurant with a strong bar culture than the other way around, hence the name Stills Restaurant & Bar. How true to their new philosophy would my experience turn out to be?  After my visit, three key points emerged.



1. A delicate balance bringing in the new and letting go of the old

It would be easy to throw out the paper place mats if you will and replace them with linen. Similarly, it would have been just as easy to create a brand new menu with all new dishes that reflect a 'higher' cuisine. However, Stills is a popular venue and regulars want the tried and tested. Looking at the menu, I see a decent level of respect for the tested and more significantly, it is still a bar as well. My experience showed me that the delicate line is nicely walked. I believe people who enjoyed bar bites will find everything still in place. But be very clear, this is no 'Let's finish a keg and burp loud'  kind of place - I think we have enough of those in the city. 





2. Drinks very much still alive

Expect a wine list with 9 by the glass options, including a value for money Nederburg South African sparkling wine, more than adequate for an affordable bubbly evening. Two standout by the glass choices come from Torres with the reliable red Ibericos Crianza and one of my favourite affordable wines of recent times,  the easy drinking and delightfully fragrant Vina Esmeralda - both are sold by the glass and you will not be disappointed considering they are part of a selection of wines priced at 37-63 AED per glass. 


But if you are looking for cocktails, a drinks menu that includes specially crafted cocktails is one of the additions to the new Stills. My pick of the night is the Ginja Ninja, which turns out much better when I suggested a bit more ginger. Do try it. I think ginger is one of those ingredients we need more of in food and drinks.


3. ...and of course, the menu

There are only 6 starters. I like this. It means that the starters you see are really believed in  by the chef. It also allows the chef, in theory,  to change his starters every quarter. Some of the starters have anything but a bar feel to them, with pricing of 55-85 AED also reflecting this. The US Prime beef carpaccio is classic stuff and you will not be disappointed while I find the Mozzarella burrata just ok, with the outer casing a bit chewy. However, the Baby spinach salad is my top recommendation.  For me it is more a halloumi salad but I get why they haven't called it that. Candied walnuts, sundried tomatoes, strawberries, radish and a sweet sour vinaigrette make this a must have - balance of flavours!





For mains, there is quite a beautiful selection. It is good to see though that they have a choice of burgers which includes a vegetarian option - it is a menu that takes into account the latest wave of 'healthy and picky' eaters as I call them. But for my main, the Wagyu pie with puff crust is a no brainer. It is a dish that reminds me of a pub without taking me to a pub. Don't be intimidated by the pastry; it is indeed quite puffy. However, the veal bacon atop the mashed potato served with this is an, unwelcome  distraction. 

Finally, you are going to love the presentation on this one - I am not saying what is in the glass on the side. My guest's Prime US tenderloin is one of three steak options, all three generously sized portions at 195AED - we are talking steakhouse quality cuts here. By the way, nice touch on the 4 choices of mustard. 





Stills Restaurant & Bar, quite popular with local publications, will continue to be so. Its graduation to a menu that reflects greater emphasis on dishes without dismissing old favourites and their bar bites menu, should find a new market. We live in a city where to have a drink one has to go to high end hotels which are invariably fancy or we have to go to grubby pubs. There were times during my evening when I forgot I was in a hotel. Of course, the terrace seating had a lot to do with it,  with gorgeous greenery adding to that sense. However, the indoor space is very spacious and in the hotter months, will fill up too. Finally, with value for money the buzz expression, Stills Restaurant & Bar can offer a high end dining  experience  allowing you to get away with a three course meal for 200AED excl drinks ,depending on what to choose - in expensive Abu Dhabi that is a good deal. But more than that, what I tried tastes really good!

Essentials

Stills Restaurant & Bar
Crowne Plaza Yas Island
Golf Plaza
Abu Dhabi
Crowne Plaza Yas Island
+971 2 6563000

Menu
Starters 55-85 AED
Mains 65-195 AED
Desserts 45-55 AED



Disclaimer: I was invited by the hotel to try the new menu. All view are my own.

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