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.

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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Russo’s New York Pizzeria

Pizza. Pasta. Tiramisu

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This would be my standard definition for typical Italian cuisine, and very rarely does a restaurant manage to surpass this combination amongst the existing Italian dining options in the city.

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A month ago I had been awestruck by the sheer size of a pizza being delivered from this restaurant, in a fairly gigantic box right across myself and a group of friends after having enjoyed a movie. The size did arouse my curiosity then, and after a great vacation this was the first restaurant I had to try. As seen before, Russo’s New York Pizzeria is all about sheer size! The gigantic masterpiece I was referring to is a 28″ pizza, with topping options catering to all kinds of preferences.

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The restaurant is part of the Gourmet Republic food plaza located in the extension of Al Wahdah Mall, and true to its promise, this place does not fail to seduce. The staff are very friendly and prompt in assisting with your seating and orders. The tables by the window offer you a view of the Al Wahdah Football lawns and stadium, a good entertainment seat if there were a match in progress for the sports connoisseurs.

Coming straight to the order, we selected Pesto Chicken Pizza (gluten free options also available), along with a fabulous Shrimp Tortellini Pasta. If it hadn’t been for just the two of us at the pizzeria that day, I would have loved to try several picks from their great menu options, but perhaps I’d have to save it for another definite visit.

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We were well attended to, and service was impressively prompt. Complimentary bread with pesto and tomato dips were also served. The food was profoundly delicious, and attendees made sure our order was satisfactory and enjoyable. I trust my pictures are ostensible enough for your judgement.

As always, the Italian trilogy is never complete without the Tiramisu, which was a delightful combination of mascarpone cheese and coffee dipped fingers. (Yet again) we were offered a generous portion, good enough to be shared by 4 persons. One doesn’t need to go too far in Abu Dhabi for worthwhile Italian cuisine, when it’s right at the heart of the city.

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While you enjoy the dining experience, do take a good look around the restaurant with it’s graceful lamp shades and pictures of New York and Italy that ornate the walls. My compliments to the efficient staff for making our experiences always momentous and looking forward to more visits soon.

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Branches also located at Dubai (Jumeirah Centre) and Sharjah (Sahara Centre Extension).

Cost of Pizza (Medium) – AED 55

Cost of Pasta – AED 55

Tiramisu – AED 28

Radisson Blu Resort: Fujeirah

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Lord of the Sea & Sky

You don’t need to travel too far to experience the trilogy of wind, water and rocks, when you can enjoy it at Radisson Blu Beach Resort, Fujairah. The room’s best stand-out is its view: a grasping abyss of pristine blue waters, over a horizon of rain clouds and mountains. All rooms have sea-overlooking balconies fitted with comfy chairs, thus making for a cozy coffee conversation. The beach is well maintained, clean and covering a lengthy expanse.

*Oops!* Seems, like I rushed the readers straight out the balcony, without mentioning the hotel. Being from an established group of Resorts, Radisson Blu does not fail to impress the guest with its quality location, interiors, comfort and value for money. Importantly, its the ambiance and Guest-relations that counts, and surely the hotel was not complacent on their delivery. From the time of your arrival to your departure, you are well taken care of by the Concierge, Receptionist and Housekeepers. At the lobby, after you have received your welcome drink, take a quick look around the hotel’s facilities. Some of the key attractions being:

  • Library: A cozy study room by the beach side equipped with divans, study tables and chairs, magazine desks, coffee tables, a large cabinet with selected novels, and a PC.
  • Spa: Facilitating both indoor spa and beach massages for the guest
  • Lounge: With a bar, Billiards table for smokers and non-smokers.
  • Kids Section: For parties and children’s access.
  • Dining Restaurants: all of which overlook the beach.

Even while you are escorted to the rooms, you can stop and enjoy the valley view from the corridor lounges: bright and well placed divans with coffee tables. The hotel has really invested in it’s guest luxury.

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Our package included a night’s stay with breakfast. We dined at Breeze for breakfast and lunch. This restaurant is known for its extensive outdoor seating, and delicious buffet spreads of continental and Arab cuisines.

Breakfast spread included: Egg station, pancake and waffle station, Fouls Mesdames, Hash browns and Sausages, cold cuts, cheese counter, assorted breads, muffins and cakes (including Christmas Stollen!), an array of fresh juices, cereals. I observed they also served low calorie breakfast specials available in the a la carte menu.

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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Cheese and Cold Cuts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

For lunch, we ordered from the menu, and the chef – Mr. Kant, was kind enough to accommodate our request for special diet food, making sure it was served as specified. My order was a Grilled Salmon cured with potato puree.

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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All through our stay, I’d like to appreciate the hospitality of Mr. Savio D’Souza, who went out of his way to ensure our comfort at all times. The complete room reservation (even though it was at the last minute), to the food arrangements, as well as check-out was carried out with gracious and professional incumbency.  Mr. Savio, allow me to say that we shall be regular guests as long as you’re around.

Mr. Savio D'Souza

Mr. Savio D’Souza

This resort, is worth the long drive from other Emirates, for its scenic location, great service and awesome views. Make sure to book your next holiday at the place.

Pearls & Caviar @ The Shangri-La Hotel

Pearls and Caviar is one of the fine-dining seafood restaurants located at the Shangri-La Hotel, Abu Dhabi on the far end of the hotel premises. The restaurant boasts of its exclusive view and surroundings, immaculate dinner service and mouth watering delicacies by a renowned chef, making the visitor’s experience of seafood truly worthwhile. Which is why I decided well two months in advance to visit this place and experience my seafood ecstasy for myself.

The plan was to dine alone, owing that my any time dining partner and sister would not be present during these Eid Holidays, and I tried to look forward to enjoying my own solitary company. However, there was a change in plans during the days nearing to this occasion. My best friend decided to accompany me, and offered to review the restaurant, this time from his own standpoint. I welcomed the initiative, especially since this was his first fine dining experience, and looked forward to it.

However, now the restaurant was faced with a challenge: My best friend is not a seafood person – he only enjoys the hammour, or the kind of fish that does not leave an overpowering fishy aftertaste. He’s normally the fast-foodie, does not understand why gourmet food comes in such small samples, does not enjoy veggies and cannot eat veal meats for religious reasons. His non “eatables” covered the rest of the entire menu. Therefore I requested the restaurant to present something that he would enjoy, and if it were possible to accommodate the out-of-menu preparation. They were happy to confirm it, while I looked forward to what they had to offer.

He is a simple and precise person, so this review will be largely objective and unbiased as conveyed to me, since this is his first. He found the service very friendly, and requested for an outdoor seating owing to the pleasant temperatures. The attendant introduced herself, and confirmed the special order request. I had reviewed the online menu much earlier, and set my taste-buds upon the many options from the Treasures of the Sea (3 course set menu). Unfortunately, when I got the menu card, I found that the items had been modified, and this revision was not updated online. For example, I looked forward to the Tiramisu and petit fours for dessert, but that was replaced. On a positive note there were several additions like Fish & Chips. Had I known earlier, I would have recommended it for my companion, and saved the chef of his special preparation.

We were both served an amuse-bouche: chilled sweet gazpacho having a distinct seafood flavor. Luckily my friend liked it, and had it with the assorted breads that were provided and refilled later.

Assorted Breads

Assorted Breads

Amuse Bouche @ Pearls & Caviar

Amuse Bouche @ Pearls & Caviar

My next course was appetizers:  a trio gourmet serving of – scallops served in cauliflower puree finesse, smoked salmon with grated beetroot, grilled octopus with fried fish finger. My friend found the finger tasty – well fried, succulent, and overall well presented.

Appetizers @ Pearls & Caviar

Appetizers @ Pearls & Caviar

For main course, I selected the grilled Halibut, while my friend was given a grilled chicken thigh with baked potato wedges and a sauce. While my halibut looked and tasted fantastic (it was cooked and served in a corn based cream sauce garnished with cornflakes; which I would say is very innovative, even my friend had a bit and loved it), my friend’s chicken was a sad surprise. The meat was cooked to dryness, and had there not been a sauce, the dish would’ve been hard to chew and unpalatable. Understandably, this does not belong to the menu, but still it could have had a nice and juicy finish. Some of the potato wedges were over cooked to a puree state.

Grilled Halibut in corn cream sauce and cornflakes

Grilled Halibut in corn cream sauce and cornflakes

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Tiramisu and petit fours were ofcourse not on the menu any longer, and the attendant suggested the Pearls and Caviar Chocolate Pot – a chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. Here again, we were disappointed that the fondant turned into a total ‘fondue’ instead and there was absolutely no cake or crumb. It simply liquefied with a single spoon touch, leaving us with a single scoop of ice cream [even the dessert spoon was uncleaned and had dried stains over it].

Pearls & Caviar Chocolate Pot

Pearls & Caviar Chocolate Pot

Anyways, so while I had my good moments in the appetizers and halibut, my best friend’s only recourse of the main dish and dessert were a tragedy. He definitely found the charge (AED 598) a bit too pricey for nothing that he could enjoy, and especially that this was his first time, and probably the last time he’s fine dining. However, he did convey his compliments about the service and the staff’s friendliness upon arrival.

His rating: 6 out of 10.

My rating:

View and surroundings: Excellent

Restaurant decor: Excellent

Service: Good

Presentation: Good, OK

Taste: Good

Value for money: Not sure.

La Mer @ Sofitel Hotel

Seafood Platter for 2 @ La Mer

Seafood Platter for 2 @ La Mer

Sofitel Hotel is located by the Corniche, one of the newest properties to feature the coastline, and adjacent to the Sheikh Khalifa Energy Complex. Getting there can be slightly complicated, but the best route is by taking the road to Al Ain Palace Hotel (everyone in Abu Dhabi knows where this is!), and then following the ‘Brown Board’ directions.

We had 2 Groupon©s for La Mer Restaurant – the seafood fine dining restaurant which offered us a Seafood Platter for 2 persons. The voucher stated an inclusion of Grilled Lobster, Grilled Tiger Prawns, Grilled Fish Fillet & some cooked calamari. The original seafood platter however, has a few more items like grilled Crabs, and some mussels, priced at AED 450.00

We were greeted well at the entrance, and shown our way to the Mezzanine Floor where the restaurant was located precisely opposite the pool bar. An attendant promptly showed us our seats (I had specified my reservation to include the sea-view, which was well arranged).

Now, to the food: we wasted no time in presenting our vouchers and getting the dishes onto our plates. The service was good, we had a dedicated attendant, who brought us assorted bread baskets with 2 kinds of butter – the regular, and butter with sea-weed. What followed was an Amuse bouche: steamed shrimp with salsa. Finally the Seafood platter served with mashed potatoes and saffron aioli, as above.

What I liked most: The fine dining service was perfect – right from the refresher towels at the beginning of the meal, to the hot towels at the end, the Amuse bouche, the bread, the taste, all was perfect.

What disappointed me: To a certain extent, we were downplayed on the seafood platter, so to say the seafood platter was not exactly enough for two seafood lovers, unless you decide to share a piece each of lobster, prawn, fish, etc. The original pricing according to me and Time Out Magazine is overpriced. The ambiance was quite and dim, owing to no other customers even though it was the weekend. The sea-view was unfortunately the dark, yet to be constructed site of the corniche (not the fault of the hotel / restaurant though) and so there was nothing to attract us for another visit in the future. However, the attendant said that they would soon introduce brunches and business lunches for the restaurant (currently it operates during dinner hours only), which might brighten up the place hopefully.

As of now, its not something I would recommend for a fab seafood experience.

Dress: Smart Casuals

Tip: Maybe you would enjoy some good ambiance in the adjoining pool bar.

Rosewater @ Jumeirah Etihad Towers

Lunches have their advantages over dinners. Firstly, you get to enjoy the sunshine and its effect wherever you go, secondly you can eat guilt-free knowing that you could work out the calories for the rest of the day. My pictures at day ironically come out better than the ones I shoot at night, and does not seem to require much editing within the natural light.

So here we are again, driving late to our reserved table at Rosewater – Jumeirah Etihad Towers or better known as JET. The beauty of the place is that it has a separate connecting exit linking straight to the towers, of which one of them is a 5* hotel. This was one of those urban chic exquisitely designed structures – right from the driveway to the restaurant that places you in a “ramp-like” feeling as soon as you step out of the car. I have noticed that the latest hotels delve on chandeliers and carpet work, and JET is no exception. The entrance lounge is high, bright, bustling and crystallized.

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Lobby Entrance @ JET

We were shown our way around to the restaurant which was two floors below the lobby. This confused my sister a bit, who had done her homework of researching the details of the restaurant online, and wanted to avail the sea-view seats. But now that this was at the basement, she lost all hopes of a view, if there ever was one.

Rosewater Entrance

Rosewater Entrance

To our surprise, the structure was designed such that the first floor was way above the average 3-4 storeys. So the P2 floor was still well above the required height for an appropriate view of the pool and the adjoining sea. We obtained our vouchers from Groupon, who has been advertising the restaurant over several months, but this offer was too good to miss. The voucher included 2 house beverages per person, and upon seating we were provided with moist towels and complimentary aperitifs. The restaurant was full of customers, which was a pleasant difference from the otherwise silent and empty fine dining experiences. Since we were already late, we made our way to the buffet which was extensive with several live cooking stations. Sorry I wasn’t able to catch a picture of one of the chefs since they ended it by 3pm, which was around the time I completed my lunch too.

Nevertheless, there were several cuisine options – Thai, Lebanese, Italian, sushi and Indian. Some of the features of this buffet were:

2 house soups

Fresh Salad Bar

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Salad Bar @ Rosewater

Fresh Cold cuts and prepared salads

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Cold Cuts & Prepared Salads @ Rosewater

Thai curries and preparations

Lebanese / Arabic foods like biryani and meats

 Indian specialties like basmati rice, lentils, and tikkas

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Indian Specialties @ Rosewater

Assorted Breads

Live Sushi Counter

Live Pasta Station

Live Noodle Station

Live Manakesh Station

Live Grill Station

Desserts.

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Desserts @ Rosewater

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Fresh Fruits @ Rosewater

The highlight of the buffet was the impeccable Indian dishes which stood out from all the other cuisines that day. Full marks to the chef for each of the preparations – the peas rice, dal, tandoors and tikkas, etc. The Ras Malai in the desserts was the cherry on the cake – sumptuously fulfilling. Other notable desserts included the white chocolate brownies and the crumble tart.

The restaurant has an outdoor seating area which I’m sure will be enjoyable during the cooler seasons with its sea / pool view. Service was excellent, friendly and prompt to customers needs. The hotel has some breathtaking views, so after a hearty meal, don’t miss out on the tour of the place, and as I recommended earlier, its best to savor these sights while the sun is still shining.

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Outdoor Seating @ Rosewater

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Sea View from Rosewater

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Fashion Gallery Exit @ JET

Price per person (incl of all taxes) AED 249.00