7 Courses to conclude a birth week - Bord Eau, Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi
“You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,' [Chef Bugnard] said. 'Even after you eat it, it stays with you - always.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France
It is very hard to write about something you have just fallen in love with. Even more so when you have already written fairly extensively about your most recent experiences there. Eventually too, your readers start grumbling, going, 'But he has already said that'. So when I visited Bord Eau at Shangri-la a few days ago, the plan was not to write, but to enjoy. Nothing cerebral for the night. However, when I walked in, sat down and looked at the excitement on my daughter's face across from me, I reached for the pen. It was the conclusion to her birth week celebration and she at least deserved a mention. Furthermore, how often do you have a 7 Course Degustation menu? No, it had to be written.
The greeting at the door really sets the tone. We are met by the restaurant manager Peter-Paul who engaged us in a bit of meaningful conversation before leading us to our table. My daughter's eyes are immediately captured by the beautiful chandeliers that provide the perfect light for the evening. Soft, just like the rest of the colours, just like the music. Romantic. It is no surprise that it is currently regarded as one of the top 5 romantic restaurants in the city by Timeout Abu Dhabi.
The evening that lies ahead is explained and my daughter declares that she will have small portions but will also attempt the 7 course menu, like a father. A tender moment hearing that, I must say. PJ says he will make it fun. We will have to guess some of the dishes. My wife, who decides on the 4 course menu, is on board. My daughter is thrilled. PJ believes that it is his duty as a waiter to educate guests too, and he loves the blind tasting approach.
We start off as usual with the tomato consomme soon followed by the now familiar amuse bouche of salmon carpaccio and crème fraiche. The asparagus soup follows and leaves you wanting more; silky smooth and rich in taste.
As I prepare for my first course, I notice that my daughter has dropped her napkin. However, relying on that incredible instinct of his, PJ moves in to replace it. Anticipating diners' need again. For my first course, I have the foie gras with a beautifully paired Riesling, Robert Weil Trocken Tradition, Rheingau 2012. Despite hailing from South Africa where the Riesling is quite popular thanks to the large German population, I have never really warmed to it. However, the benefit of an open mind is shown again - it works so well with the foie gras.
|The foie gras|
|Veal cheek - tenderness redefined.|
My own excitement is on the rise because the next three dishes would be dishes not tried before. First, the line-caught seabass is brought. My wine is a glass of Louis Jadot, Pinot Noir Bourgogne, Cuvee Jacobins, Bourgogne, a 2010 French wine. Another interesting choice for me. Accustomed to full bodied and robust Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and of course red Bordeauxs, this Pinot Noir has a medium intensity and is smooth, but not so full. However, as an accompaniment to the seabass, it works out beautifully. It does not overpower the seabass at all. The seabass is perfectly light, but my focus shifts to my glass as I sip some more. It is growing on me. Thank you Peter, I think. I request a top up.
|Sea bass with matelote sauce.|
|The Wagyu striploin|
|The truffle brie - pleased to see figs so prominent.|
|Managed to sit through 5 courses.|
My foray into the unknown continues as I am given the lemon tarte 2014 with pianeapple and strawberry coulis, probably the only false note for me, but might be more a reflection of me - I found it too sweet, despite the lemon character of it. However, for me it is saved by the dessert wine, the Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a vivacious sweet wine from the Rhone region. I enjoy it, but I feel unsatisfied. When that happens people I back to the tried and trodden paths, so I request the dark chocolate Extravaganza.
|The lemon tarte 2014|
Thus ended my 7 course degustation journey. It was an evening that left Bord Eau entrenched in my mind as a restaurant you simply have to visit. From my first two posts you could see that service was never quite where I expected it to be. However, this visit and the last have shown me how a waiter or waitress can make or break an evening. The common denominator in these two visits was PJ, and at the top of all of this, or in the background rather (because he is so genuinely modest) is Peter-Paul.
As we walk, out, my daughter is asleep on my shoulder. A thought comes into my mind - am I one of those parents who cruelly takes a child to an 'adult' restaurant? But then a counter thought - her fascination with Bord Eau, which arose out of passing there often and becoming curious about it, can now be put to rest because she has tried it and she can continue her childhood, one year wiser. I recall Julia Childs, and think that yes, the beautiful things she ate this night, will stay with her. A thing of beauty does not fade. Bord Eau will stay in her childhood memory.
Shangri-la, Abu Dhabi.
+971 2 509 8888
7 course degustation 625 Dhs excl wine