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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
View and surroundings: Excellent
Restaurant decor: Excellent
Presentation: Good, OK
Value for money: Not sure.