Frankie’s @ Fairmont, Bab Al Bahr

Perhaps the name is a bit too casual?

If you’re looking to experience a succulent Italian dinner, gourmet style and in a posh ambience you must head to the beautiful hotel of Fairmont, located between the bridges. The opulent works at the grand entrance will surely engage you into exploring the premises, especially at day when the pristine waters of the pool and sea will behest you to stay.

Beyond the lobby, a descending staircase will lead you to several doorways – restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and hangouts, from which Frankie’s was one of them in the corridor to the right. The name, is a collaboration between the horse jockey – Frankie Dettori and Marco Pierre, the latter of which is well known and respected in the culinary world. The entrance is plush, and well-mannered attendees present you with their assiduous service. I do not know how they manage to boast of an open pizza kitchen while maintaining a well air conditioned restaurant. The pizza premise is an open invitation for all those who would swap their pastas for a mouth-full of pizza I suppose. Either way, it was fun to watch, with the chef meticulously rolling out his dough, glazing it with sauce and toppings, only to put it in the oven for few minutes and pronto! you have a steaming aroma of goodness among bubbling hot mozarella. Hungry yet?

Organ music promptly followed midway through our meal. Clearly, as we surveyed the customers, this was a quiet place for lovers, young and old romantic couples alike. Our order was Fried Calamari for appetizers, followed by Seafood Platter for the main course – the special for the day.

Fresh bread was served along with our starters with three of our favorite dips – olive, pesto and tomato. Calamari Fritti was served with tartar sauce and salad cream.

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Our main course was a generous spread of Grilled Calamari, Jumbo Shrimps, a cube of Grilled Salmon and some Scallops, along with steamed asparagus and some fried potato wedges. The taste was as excellent as the service.

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As I always say, never exit an Italian place without tasting the true essence of Italy – Tiramisu. I have heard much about its famed preparation: The Tiramisu Trio as it is known, and has three glassed servings of awesomeness – Amaretti, Classic (for chocolate lovers) and Amarena (rum lovers). The experience was ever fulfilling.

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It is recommended to reserve a table in day in advance, as the place can get crowded on weekends, and definitely you do not wish to miss this dessert. The Seafood platter is AED 225 excluding service tax and tourism fee (16%). Wine and spirits are also served at the restaurant.

De Thali Restaurant & Peppermill

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For the love of Indian dishes:

Indian food is eaten from thalis or large plates, whereupon portions of the prepared dishes are served. A typical thali may include two or more gravies (one of which may be lentils), either rice or flat bread called roti (thin) or chapati (thick) or puri (fried); curds and optionally a sweet dish. Conventionally, the steward is required to serve the portions into the thalis as soon as it has been prepared, and that may be precisely why I did not have the fortune of taking the fresh shots as they arrived.

With limited photographs, I decided to combine two popular Indian restaurants, both of which graciously satisfy the curry appetite:

De Thali Restaurant:

Located at the food court of Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, the menu is inspired from popular Indian must-haves – snacks and main course. We chose two favorites: Jhinga Nisha (Tandoor cooked Jumbo Prawns with a mint chutney); and Babhi Murgh (a kind of chicken gravy). Total cost inclusive of drinks came to AED 100 for 2 persons.

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Peppermill Restaurant:

The restaurant has two outlets in Abu Dhabi: one at Al Wahdah Mall extension and the other at the exotic Eastern Mangroves Promenade. This fine dining ambiance allows you to explore contemporary gourmet dishes within ornately decorated surroundings. It’s Raj style service is impressive and meticulously executed. They were able to cater to my mother’s request for special dietary requirements as well as recommended the most congenial dishes in line with the rest of our palettes. I managed to get a picture of some mouth watering starters, and I would recommend any of the ‘dum’ biryanis (slow cooked) for main courses. Featured are:

Calamari Gymkhana: – pictured at the top.

Karare Palak Chaat: (crispy batter fried spinach)

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The total cost for 5 persons, inclusive of drinks and condiments was AED 735.00. This place is recommended for its outdoor view, serene surroundings and commendable service.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

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Italian delights at the WTC

For those who have not yet ventured into Abu Dhabi’s own World Trade Centre, you have aptly missed the next big thing of the Emirate. The building or rather structure has been beautifully constructed in contemporary style stretching over Hamdan and Khalifa Street. A magnificent foray of international stores with infinitesimal brands line the insides of this place. There’s a dedicated dining floor catering to various cuisines, and we have been intently waiting for the opening of Romano’s Macaroni Grill for some Italian delightful presentations.

So what’s different about the restaurant?
After you have been escorted to your table, you will observe it has been topped with blank chart paper. Your attendant will introduce him/herself by inscribing her name on it with crayons. Feel free to write / draw or even comment upon it.

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Next, somewhere in between the entire staff get together and break into a pleasant song!

It’s simply inadequate for us to get into a restaurant and avoid ordering Calamari Fritti (pictured above) from the menu. We thus indulged ourselves into a generous serving of the crispy snack served crackling hot with tomato salsa.
For main courses, we were recommended pasta Farfalle and Grilled Chicken with spaghetti.

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And of course the Tiramisu, which my sister marveled upon. It was prepared very conventionally,  which made it more hard to resist and we scraped the dish clean in no time.

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The Meat Co

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Friday Lunch. Family Reunion.

A recently-turned-twenty-one cousin arrived for a month’s holiday at the desert capital along with her mother last weekend, and we had a lot to catch up on the family. There’s no better way to do this than over some great food at a great location. Qaryat al Beri, the souk / tourist arcade located at Bain Al Jisreen (between the bridges) seems to be the escape route for an exotic yet affordable meal by the canal side. Most of these restaurants have outdoor seating, a meal haven during cooler months.
It was a long drive from Al Shamka, the current residence of my cousin and her family, so by the time they arrived, our indomitable appetites made headway to the most advertised restaurant with all its tempting food posters at every corner.
The South African chain was visibly florid and ostentatious, with a smoking / non smoking seating. Most pompous display of winery I must say. The staff, were very obliging and catered to our orders with ease and precision. Entertainer vouchers were passed around giving us the liberty to choose from outstanding choices of grilled meats and poultry.
For starters we had a large bowl of Garden salad, the presentation of which was unexpectedly akin to a twig pot. The ‘soil’, as Mr. Sinfree (our attendant) explained was olive powder and truly delicious.

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Being in the mood for seafood, I asked for a grilled preparation and was promptly recommended a Red Snapper fish served with truffle Potatoes and prawn veloute (pictured above).
Other dishes in chicken included the Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lentil Salad and creamy garlic and chilli sauce:

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And the Wagyu Burger (200 gms) served with fries and crispy onion rings:

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Mr. Sinfree should be extolled for his effusive presence as well as efforts to proffer food based on our dietary requirements accurately. The experience of the reunion was memorable.

Jones the Grocer, Al Mamoura

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I can’t believe I haven’t blogged on this place yet, as I have been a frequent customer with my standard order of Traditional Fish and Chips since Jones the Grocer opened in the Al Mamoura Area. Several branches in and around the city also make this place a popular hangout.

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As the name suggests, it’s a Grocer’s stop, which means you will be seated among arrays of shelves showcasing organic ingredients and other daily merchandise. Quite an innovative venture for Abu Dhabi, I’d say. Cheese fans will love this place as they serve a delicious platter of your favorite cheese assortments. Check the online schedules for Masterclasses held at the branches too for those who would love to try their hand at cooking. They are also known for their popular “Wagyu Burgers’.

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We ordered a Traditional Fish and Chips and a ‘Jones Grilled Chicken Burger’ followed by Moist Chocolate Cake for dessert. I love this fish, which is fried to a crisp and served smoking hot in a platter with Fries, and ketchup. I know, I should be trying more options since this has been my umpteenth visit, but I simply cannot get passed this temptation from the menu.

A comfortable outdoor seating is also available for those who would like to laze around the sights of the developing area. It was also recently visited by Royalty – yes, the Sheikhs actually stopped over for coffee!

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Urban Bites: Abu Dhabi Airport Road

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What does one do when one stays in Karama Street (or Old Airport Road as its so fondly known) and needs to find a convenient place to relax, read a book or simply meet for coffee…pasta maybe? Head to the mall? Not anymore…read on:

Urban Bites seems to be the answer to my long awaited need for convenience of time and distance, along with good menu options of pastas, salads and soups apart from hot beverages. The newly opened restaurant is located just across the street, a few blocks away from the Adnoc refuelling station (for those going in the direction of the airport). Here’s a bonus point: Healthy food options! My recommendation is to try the ‘Create your own salad’, where you are offered a variety of fresh, delicious options over the counter, and the attendant will mix your choices with a selected dressing. The ingredients are impressively numerous to be listed, and its a must-savor; what’s more is that you don’t have to be a salad-lover to relish this well prepared meal. The portions are generous, and the attendants guided me through the contents to make it perfect.

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My sister and usual eatery connoisseur, ordered a baguette with Cold cuts, equally fresh and delicious. Options available in wholemeal and brown, brown and rye breads too.

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So what’s different? Traditional Emarati Breakfast, Qastaleeyah. This is perhaps the first place I’ve observed, that confidently serves the Emarati breakfast item and dessert respectively. The interiors are clean, spacious, chic and very urban.

Dear Urbans, thank you for opening so close by!

Other branches in Abu Dhabi: Shining tower Khalidiya, Khalifa City A

Price for Baguette: AED 28

Price for Small Salad: AED 20; AED 30 with protein

Cappuccino: AED 14

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Gastronomic Vacation: Mumbai to Goa in a week

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Vacation with my sister has always been a call for adventure, thankfully without mishaps. Having recently quit my job, and taking advantage of my sister’s annual leave from work, we embarked on a short, one week trip around our 2 favorite places in India: Mumbai and Goa. The experience was momentous, and we covered several locations accomplishing thus, a most satisfying itenary. Some of the most poignant moments (including food ofcourse!) have been captured and put up for recommendation:

7 Kitchens, Palladium Hotel: Lunch Buffet

The sole deciding factor between buffet versus a la carte menu, was my appraisal of the ostensible desserts. 7 Kitchens is a renowned fine dining restaurant of the luxurious Palladium Hotel, situated at Worli, adjacent to Phoenix Mall at Lower Parel. The sophistication of the town, and the grand view of the skyline from the Worli Sea Link Bridge is what makes this trip worthwhile. We were greeted by an unprecedented wet spell that day, making our entrance a little less ostentatious than planned, (not that we were celebrities of any sort, but I believe that good hotels deserve a classy walk-in), nevertheless the intricate works and interiors were finely detailed, polished with much assiduity, and elegance. Atleast we had a plausible excuse to use the tersely polished marble bathrooms before settling for lunch. The buffet won hands down, after I observed their dedicated counter for pastries and my two favorites: Opera and Tiramisu.

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Lake View Cafe, Renaissance Hotel:

It was our lazy day, and so we missed brunch! While we entered the restaurant, the staff were carting away the tables and cloches and I managed to see what I had missed, regretfully. Had we made it for the brunch on time, I’m sure we would have enjoyed a most formidable spread. It was almost sunset, so we enjoyed a pasta dish each, followed by coffee. The place is highly recommended for its serene views of the Powai Lake, lawn and surroundings.

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Cidade De Goa Hotel:

Moving over to Goa, I would always recommend the stay at this fabulous hotel that has been my holiday destination for over a decade. It feels like I grew up here, as it has been the place of many family reunions, occasions and celebrations. Like us, there are plenty of Indian expats who are regular guests at the unchangeable hotel. If you manage to reserve during the peak season (we were informed that we had arrived during the wedding season), the costs could be exaggeratedly high, but you get to enjoy several aspects and locales of the hotel, which otherwise remain closed during the reasonably-priced monsoons. Sapiently, I would recommend you take time to discern how to enjoy your trip here. The entire five star resort is located by the beach, facing the shores of Donna Paula (a famous monumental town), with its water sports and beach activities for guests. Several restaurants, catering halls and cafes, indoor and outdoor are widely dispersed throughout the structure. The service is brilliant, and most satisfactory. Very accommodating staff, so to speak that gave us attention to every detail from our check in, special food orders, spa treatments and transport. The entire hotel was active with weddings, corporate conferences and live entertainments, etc. We never had a single prosaic moment during our stay here, and I know I never will have, hopefully for years to come.

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Mumbai International Terminal 2:

The most raved about terminal had just opened doors to us as we arrived in Mumbai, so a week later the place still smelled of fresh paint. A lot of effort, innovation and creative designs and construction by international designers and private investors have contributed to the florid look of Terminal 2 or T2 as it has been named. For all those who were otherwise used to the dingy predecessor, this sight will surely shake your inhibitions. The change is refreshing, remarkable, while several fine dining options as well as fast food courts have made their establishments. I wish I had more time for a fulfilling exploration of the area, and its many dining options, but we were stifled for time, and made it few minutes before boarding. The airport signboards clearly restrict everyone from photography, yet some obstinate few could not control their urge for selfies.

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