Lebanese at Sambusek - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
|The entrance to Sambusek.|
A common feature in Rosewood's glorious restaurants is the emphasis on natural light. This continues at Sambusek. Again, magnificent floor to ceiling windows allow you a view of the water, and at night time it really is quite pretty as the lights of the island flicker away. Curtains are designed in a way too that allows maximum natural light. Muted colours dominate, with greys and greens evident. Arabian touches are there, but very subtle. Everything is done very tastefully.
|Very stylish and chic.|
|Baba ganouj with a generous amount of pomegranate.|
|The olives and pine nuts - yum.|
Soon the cold mezze is brought. It is a substantial and colourful spread. For the uninitiated, the set menu is a perfect introduction to Lebanese cuisine, and all the classics are there. lemon, the basis of a lot of the flavours in the cold mezze permeates the air. It is very aromatic. The parsley and mint smell make me feel I am in a garden. The freshness is intoxicating. The parsley and mint from the tablouleh fills the air. Fresh. The same applies to the hummus and the fatoush, Lebanese staples.
|Potatoes - part of the hot mezza|
|The delicious mixed grill - flavours aplenty.|
|A beautiful Bordeaux.|
Dessert is a gorgeous and colourful affair. They are not sweet. A big plus for me. The halawa bi jibn is creamy, cheesy and fragrant with a gratifying crunch, again from pistachios. Next, I have the ashta with honey, which has the same base as my first dessert - the ashta cream. The two dishes are too similar, though, and on reflection, I think i should have got just the one. I also have a fruit platter, simply but elegantly presented. Natural sweetness. I love it..
|The ashta cream motif in both meant two fairly similar desserts, albeit different textures.|
After dessert, I take my coffee and move out on to the terrace and enjoy the view across the water. It is not too hot. Just right. I reflect on my dining experience and I am left with a feeling that the food wowed, and then some. Kudos to the chef.
But as exceptional as the food was, I found the service underwhelming.There were just too many basics that the staff did not deliver on. Service was not as attentive as I expected and staff often just disappeared. At one point I had had no contact with waiting staff for 20 minutes. Those of you who have been following my blog will know how exceptional the service was at the other three principal Rosewood outlets - Aqua, Catalan, Spice Mela - and those experiences made the service here even more glaringly average. A definite area of potential growth here.
As I head back inside, I am already looking forward to my next visit 6 months later to see if the service has become as slick and attentive as the other distinguished outlets at Rosewood, so that the Sambusek will be talked of with no 'howevers', so to speak. It will be a place where service levels meet the high quality of dishes produced in the kitchen. Rosewood Hotel is a marvelous dining venue with an obvious commitment to things exceptional. I know that 6 months later I will experience the Rosewood service touch at Sambusek.
The low down
Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi
02 813 5578
Sannin Set Menu 275 Dhs