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.

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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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Creative Writing Sessions with Tracy Crisp

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Last week’s print of the Abu Dhabi Weekly proffered an exciting opportunity for all creative writing enthusiasts (beginners and novices) to know and get more out of your talent by introducing Creative Writing Sessions with a renowned author and novelist, Tracy Crisp.

Sessions will be held for four consecutive Mondays from 10AM to 12PM at The Space, Park Rotana Offices near TwoFour54. The first session begins tomorrow, Monday 14th April 2014. Total fees for these sessions are AED 400.00 to be paid upfront at the beginning of the session.

For more information to register / reserve your place, contact Tracy via email: tracyqcrisp@gmail.com or call 050-1336697. Don’t forget your notebook.

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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Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

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Brunch. Gourmet. Elegance.

The newly opened Sofitel Luxury Hotel propped at the outskirts of the Corniche recently introduced buffets and brunches at the Lounge restaurant, simply named Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. The indubitable opulence of its interiors and impeccable sophistication can quell a first timer at the grand entrance. We were promptly attended to by a Guest Relations Officer who directed our steps to the extravagant brunch.

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This was the Friday Brunch Special, and the food as I observed, was a generous array of Lebanese and French themes, and a few Asian main courses. The arrangement can appear a little discordant, so it is advisable to peruse the buffet settings prior to starting your meals so as to avoid skipping a valuable course.

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A brief list of the ostensible varieties would include: Salad bars, Cheese and Assorted Bread bar, Cold cuts and a dedicated Seafood counter, Live Sushi Station, Mixed grills, Hot preparations of rice and gravies, Baked Servings of Salmon, Quail and meats. I would advise that you request for hot and freshly prepared / grilled meats in order to avoid them turning up on your plate cold and unchewable.

The ambiance boasts of a mollifying demeanor, that overlooks the shores of the Corniche. The charm of the restaurant, amidst its pompous elegance lies in its fastidious arrangements of interiors, lounge and table seats, cutlery and fountains. We were briefly entertained by a live band who delivered a remarkable performance perfectly adjunct to the weekend atmosphere.

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The eminent feature of this spread would have to be the Desserts. I simply loved the Eiffel Tower of cupcakes, cake pops, candies and pastries of sorts. Notably, I must appreciate the explicit service rendered to us by all the attendees, hostesses and manager alike, who assiduously looked into our requirements and comfort. Definitely recommended for gourmet enthusiasts.

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