French Bistro night at Giornotte - Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi
|The accordionist - nice touch.|
The chefs are integral to the success of the evening. Every meal is a chance to educate the guest. It is not just about food. It is usually the role of the waiting staff to to be the ones who engage the guest. However, this is changing at number of hotel restaurants as they seek that X-factor that will bring guests back. Giornotte is one of those restaurants where chefs, with their vast knowledge, can interact directly with the guests. Chef de Cuisine, Christian Antoine, did his rounds and epitomised exactly this.
I could go through all the dishes I had, but you what the outcome will be - exceptional. This is the Ritz. However, it would be amiss not to mention a few of the dishes. Firstly, the fin de claire oysters, again superbly shucked and served by Chef Ashley. After the oysters he presents me with some mussels which are just so memorable. They are different to the usual interpretation of mussels and garlic. Yum. Mussels and fries, typical of Northern France due its proximity to Belgium - very nice indeed. My waiter for the night, Abhilash, is very efficient and times everything well. A finger bowl is delivered with perfect timing - still one of few all day dining restaurants where you are given a finger bowl - kudos to Giornotte.
There are times I forget I am at a buffet, and this accentuates the bistro feeling. Waiters are on hand with note pads and pens to get you anything, meaning you need never get up from your seat. Bistro-like. Nice. This is crucial, and it works so well. On the table is an oversized glass cum beer mug with knives and forks. Very bistro-like. My waiter brings me another serving of mussels. Just as I am about to finish the mussels, Chef Antoine brings a palate cleanser. There are two things that strike me about this. First, the impeccable timing. Second, again breaking down the barrier between the guest and the chef. As for the palate cleanser? While it is supposed to be functional, I revel in the taste!
|A palate cleanser that is more sumptuous than it is functional.|
|Frisse & poached egg with crispy turkey bacon.|
I notice a number of managers on duty. I also realise a few of them are French. Logical. Who better to guide guests through the evening than managers who know French cuisine? I have the good fortune of being guided by Thomas, a Nice native, whose passion and enthusiasm for the dishes is so infectious. His eyes light up as he recommends dishes.
|Patae en Croute and Duck rillete|
In quick succession I try the foie gras, pate en croute and the duck rillette. No disappointment. The potato and truffle gratin with blue cheese dressing follows next and I must say the bite added by the dressing elevates an already wonderful dish. The ratatouille is as Provencal as it gets and is a fitting inclusion in so far as it adds to the bistro feel of the evening.
|I nibbled on my tarte Tropezienne before I could get a pic.|
|Oeuf en neige - the white island.|
However, I will look back at 24 June when this perception changed dramatically. The impact made by staff like Chef de Cuisine Antoine and Chef Ashley, Thomas and my waiter, Abhilash, was far-reaching for me. I fell in love with the Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi.
As I passed two hotel hostesses clad in their elegant evening work dresses, greeting guests, I could not help but reflect on the power that staff in the hospitality industry have to sway the mind and heart of a guest - be that staff member a chef or a waiter. It was supposed to be a bistro evening, but it ended up being more, so much more.
The bottom line
French Bistro Night Wednesdays
Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 818 8282