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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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

Orient Treasures Restaurant

“What do you prefer to eat?”

Two years ago, when she asked me the question, I hesitated to answer. I knew that if I had said fish…or soup…or chicken, she would make that phone call, and voila! I would have a dish in front of me. Back then, I had just relocated to the office where my senior management were all present. Getting lunch was a challenge I thought, as I was used to the restaurants around the old office. My senior colleague, was a co-owner of a newly opened Filipino restaurant, that was the nearest from where I was. Being calorie conscious, I held an ignorant doubt that like most Asian platters, pinoy food too would contain either too much oil or too much spice. She pressed the question again, adamant that I should try.

“Do you have anything light?”, I finally asked back,

“What do you mean by light?”, she asked, resounding the vagueness of my question;

“Light…non-greasy, and non-spicy..?”

“All of our foods are light in that context, spice is an option ofcourse.”

Finally I said “chicken”, and waited till the dish came. It was a silog dish – Chiksilog. Silogs are dishes served with garlic rice, fried egg and pickled papaya strips called achara. Not only was this dish light, it was delicious. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the rice was portioned just right, and together with a fried sunny side up the meal was simply beautiful. With a dish so simple, and so conveniently available I was confident that the other dishes were as awesome as this. Of course, I had Filipina colleagues who gave me suggestions from time to time, and guided me across the food names. A guide through the silog list would be:

Chiksilog – Chicken, fried rice, fried egg

Longsilog – Sausages, fried rice, fried egg

Daingsilog – Fried fish (milkfish), fried rice, fried egg

Tapsilog – Cured beef, fried rice, fried egg

Tocilog – Honey barbeque sauced chicken, fried rice, fried egg (my personal favorite)

Cornsilog – Corned beef, fried rice, fried egg

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Chicken Mamee with Fried Tofu

Chicken Mamee with fried Tofu

Chopsuey

Chopsuey

Orient Treasures by now has gained a reputed name all over Najda Street for their home-style cooked dishes, delivery service and new innovative additions to their menu. The restaurant manager – Ms. Relly is an over all talented lady both in and out of the kitchen. Whether its food presentation, delivery and even menu design and photography, she’s the best to rely on. The kitchen also has a team of efficient cooks behind the counter. It is preferred to enjoy the casual ambiance of the restaurant, but free delivery service is also provided for the sake of customer convenience. The restaurant is located at the heart of Najda Street, near to National Hospital. One of its best features is the budget meal service, which is available on a monthly contract basis, and has affordable hot meals served at your office desk. This restaurant is guaranteed to satisfy any nationality or varied foodie types with their choice of food. Just name your favorite, and like me you will get it hot on a platter.

Assorted Condiments

Assorted Condiments – Self Service

The restaurant has come up with Daily Buffet starting from today, and priced at AED 30. Combo meals are also available for AED 12. I recommend that one should check what this restaurant has to offer and meet the talented staff. I was also fortunate today to have tasted their ‘Taho’ – a light dessert made from soya milk custard, sugar, and tapioca. Its a specialty and a must-eat!

Fresh steaming Taho

Fresh steaming Taho

I’m looking forward for Orient Treasures to become the next big name in Abu Dhabi when it comes to daily meals / budget meals as they have been the only enterprise so far to have managed this so successfully and beautifully. Watch out for their progress on Orient Treasures Facebook page.

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The Village: One to One Hotel

Entertaining Spread…that’s about the best two words I could think of as soon as I saw the restaurant.

Those who are arriving here for the first time, will have some difficulty finding the location, therefore make sure to ask for the directions in advance and to be on time for the Friday Brunch outlaid between 12 pm – 4 pm. I was not expecting a large crowd, so I could call myself and my brunch companion really fortunate to have found a table. The Village is a large shisha tent, with indoor and outdoor seating arrangements, and we were recommended to sit inside so as to catch some entertainment that was being arranged for the customers.

Being famished, we commenced the buffet line and were welcomed to a wide array of assorted breads, salads and lentil soup. The menu was predominantly Lebanese, with a few continental main courses such as Grilled fish, Spaghetti and Sauteed mushrooms. Remarkably kid friendly, with a whole row of foods dedicated to children, lowered dishes of Chicken Nuggets, hot dogs, pastas, sandwiches and popcorn!

Among the main courses were: Grilled meats, assorted Fatayer, Noodles and the winner item: Lamb Rice. This rice is so flavorful, and with the meat well done, it simply melts in the mouth. There was also a Margarita pizza, Cheese stuffed bread and condiments of hummus, gravies and several sauces.

Noodles

Noodles

Assorted Fatayer

Assorted Fatayer

Lamb Rice

Lamb Rice

The entire while of picking up my main course items, I was distracted by the desserts counter. And from the other side, one cannot make out its expanse or contents, but I was looking forward to it especially after seeing another customer with a heap full of chocolate!

My wait was certainly not disappointing. The extraordinary array of desserts made me guilty for having taken a second round for main course, since many of the ones displayed were my all-time favorites: Chocolate Ganache Cake, Opera Cake, Cheese Cakes, Chocolate Mousse, Parfaits, Black Forest Cake, Crème Caramel, Baklava, Macaroons, Chocolate Brownies and much more. These complimented with steaming tea or coffee (also included in the buffet), made me request to see the Pastry Chef for a personal commendation.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

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Crème Caramel

Crème Caramel

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Live Entertainment

Live Entertainment

Chef Ziad, as he is well known in One to One Hotel, has a remarkable patisserie experience of over 30 years. His expert knowledge in chocolate and pastries is the secret behind the divine taste of all those desserts on display. He was humble and forthcoming enough to show me pictures of his works in the field of pastry making. I am confident that his expertise and talent will lead him to more successful heights. As for the chocolate cake, I firmly believe this was the one I have been looking for – the ever perfect complement of moist sponge and ganache.

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.

Pizzeria Olivella @ Fotouh Al Khair

Tiramisu @ Pizzeria Olivella

Coffee Liqueur Soaked Fingers surrounded by Mascarpone heaven: The Tiramisu

 

Its been a while since I had Italian cuisine; ever since its opening, Pizzeria Olivella has never failed to seduce your taste buds with flavorsome hits from Italy. This place deserves publicity as everything on the menu is authentic, fresh, generous and economical.

This place is not your regular pizza and pasta destination, but also hosts a variety of Italian main courses, served in gourmet style in a very casual ambiance.

Me and my sister are regulars at this place whenever we have a craving for this cuisine and the place seems to be conveniently located at the Fotouh Al Khair Centre (Marks & Spencer) on the ground floor.

For starters we ordered the freshly baked Garlic Bread drizzled with mozzarella cheese and herbs. The bread is so crisp and warm, you can feel the melting garlic in every morsel.

Garlic Bread @ Pizzeria Olivella

Garlic Bread @ Pizzeria Olivella

For main course, I normally take my ever-favorite: The Seafood Linguine. I can guarantee you that this dish is worth every penny, and wont be found even in a fine dining restaurant. The sauce is not too overwhelming, neither too rich nor floating in grease; there are generous helpings of scallops, mussels, calamari & shrimp, all fresh and cooked to perfection. I was surprised my sister ordered the same as she usually takes to the chicken dishes. Make sure to request for Parmesan cheese to compliment your pasta.

Seafood Linguine @ Pizzeria Olivella

Seafood Linguine @ Pizzeria Olivella

The star of the restaurant, and a must-have for all dessert lovers is the Tiramisu. I’d say: feel guiltless and gulp every helping of this coffee soaked fingers and mascarpone cheese. And I say it again: No one can make Tiramisu this perfect! There were times when we have come to the restaurant solely for this celebrity.

Price for 2 including drinks and beverages: AED 160.00 (Appetizers, main course, desserts, mineral water and coffee).

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