Brasserie Angelique - Jumeirah Etihad Towers

My visit to Brasserie Angelique was filled with anticipation. In fact, I tweeted that morning that it had been my most anticipated restaurant visit in recent weeks. After previous visits to restaurants like Bord Eau at Shangri-la and Catalan at Rosewood, the comparisons were inevitable as I stepped into the restaurant. After all, Brasserie Angelique is the reigning Timeout Contemporary European Restaurant of the Year in Abu Dhabi, Bord Eau the current Restaurant of the Year and Catalan has already created so much buzz in its first year that it is being tipped for great things.

Intimate and not crowded, despite the number of seats.

Stunning ceilings
As the glass doors opened, I saw another, more rustic feeling wooden door on the inside and opened this to reveal a sumptuous dining area. Black, white and grey greeted me, as did magnificent chandeliers. Grand. While my last visit to Paris was more than 10 years ago, I told my daughter that this felt so Parisian as we were led to our seats. The music, the waiters and waitresses in their black and white uniforms, the ceilings, chandeliers - classic French. Even the Jean Paul Gaultier cushions were not out of place. Would the menu live up to the classic tradition already conveyed through the restaurant's decor?

Rouille prepared for the beef tartare.
As tasty as it was theatrical, my beef tartare.

After being warmly welcomed by Nicolas Cauphin, the affable and infectiously charming restaurant manager, we were shown menus. The menu, a single A3 sized one, is simple enough. For our entrees, I ordered two starters, the beef tartare and Burgundy snails, and my daughter ordered oxtail consomme. 

Everything was well presented, but kudos for the presentation and preparation of the beef tartare. It was brought by trolley to the table, and it was then prepared. I watched as Nicolas added ingredients including egg yolk, dijon, tomato sauce, salt, a bit of tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to a bowl. Afterwards, the USDA prime beef was added to the sauce (Rouille) and mixed. This was theatre. The end result? Delicious. The sourdough bread and pickled vegetables were just as tasty, but this was about the beef tartare. The snails were much simpler, prepared with parsley, garlic, salt, butter and puff pastry.

The lamb with fennel, onion puree and butternut.  
My daughter's superb duck. 

Sides of asparagus and roasted almonds and potato gratin!
For my main I ordered the sumac crusted lamb loin. While I waited, I finished off my Chablis, which was beautifully paired with my starters. Light, fruity and with citrus notes, it was a perfect accompaniment to my entrees.

My main course, the sumac crusted lamb, could not have been better cooked. The gorgeous pink colour as it was placed in front of me was testimony to that. Sumac, a North African spice used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking, worked surprisingly well. It took a fine piece of New Zealand lamb and made it even better. The flavors were complex thanks to the sumac, the onion puree and the subtle garnishing of cress. My daughter, on the other hand, had another French classic dish, the slow cooked Soulard duck breast. The carrot emulsion was divine, as was the intense Aigre douce sauce. Again, well cooked.

My wine pairing was a full bodied Paul Jaboulet, Gigondas Pierre Aiguille 2010, a spicy wine with berry notes that gets much better as it breathes. Again, well done to Nicolas!

One of many highlights , the crepe suzette.
I have written often of the sheer pleasure it is when you simply leave things to your host/waiter and say 'Dessert, uhmm, surprise me'. In fact when he asked my daughter, that is exactly what she said: Surprise us. And it was indeed a surprise. If the preparation of the beef was theatre, then this was show-stopping theatre. Again a trolley rolled in and Nicolas prepared another French classic, crepe suzetté. Watching him caramelise the sugar and butter, add the orange pieces was something. However, the highlight was undoubtedly watching it served flambe! We also had a raspberry soufflé. Yes, raspberry. Perfectly puffed up with just the right amount of gooeyness. I liked the fact that the raspberry did not overwhelm. Another winner by Chef Niels!
Pretty, oh so pretty.
My dessert wine, expertly aired with the crepes suzette and soufflé. 
Brasserie Angelique is a very special restaurant. Do not be fooled by the 140+ seats in the restaurant. It feels intimate, largely due to the closely spaced tables and chairs. However, it is not cramped. This is where the intimacy is created, brasserie style. If you need more privacy for that special occasion, there are seating options that will afford you this. Staff are knowledgeable and service checks all the required boxes: engaging, unobtrusive,  and staff are able to anticipate needs of guests. Brasserie Angelique will satisfy that craving you may have for classic French fare, and this comes at a very good price too. It is unpretentious and this allows it to focus on presenting dishes that will either take you back to your previous trips to Paris, or if you have not been, will evoke in you a desire to visit.

At the end of the night, comparison to Bord Eau and Catalan seemed irrelevant as I realized that Brasserie Angelique was different. In fact, each of these restaurants mentioned here had something very unique. Rather, I celebrated the joy at having been able to be part of a gem of an experience.

The low down

Brasserie Angelique
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
02 811 5666

Starters 45-115 Dhs
mains 135-260 Dhs
Dessert 40 Dhs
Sides 20-25 Dhs

Brandon Stoltenkamp