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.

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18 degrees @ Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel

18 degrees @ Hyatt Capital Gate

18 degrees @ Hyatt Capital Gate2013-09-30 14.27.21-6

We have stayed at the hotel a few months ago, and enjoyed a beautiful experience at the well architectured Capital Gate Hyatt boasting of an inclination of 18º, therefore leaning more than the Tower of Pisa at Italy. The design is urban chic, and to coincide with its standing feature, the restaurant is located at the 18th floor, and is named 18 º. The view hereafter from any restaurant or room is splendid, placing the whole of the Abu Dhabi city in a showcase. Each visit has been a worthwhile experience.

We had a dining voucher, which included a complimentary 3 course meal for 2 persons, plus adding an Entertainer® Voucher which would render one free main course for one, left us eating the best gourmet dishes at the price of just one.

With regard to taste, I’ll be as brief as possible here, and let the food pictures do the talking.

Oven Fresh Bread

Oven Fresh Bread

Appetizers: Grilled Stuffed Calamari

Appetizers: Grilled Stuffed Calamari

Grilled Tiger Prawns with Sumac Tomato Salad & Olive Aioli

Grilled Tiger Prawns with Sumac Tomato Salad & Olive Aioli

Spaghetti with Shrimp & sundried tomatoes

Spaghetti with Shrimp & sundried tomatoes

Grilled Salmon Fillet with dill in white sauce

Grilled Salmon Fillet with dill in white sauce

Desserts: Chocolate Fondant with Ice cream

Desserts: Chocolate Fondant with Ice cream

Desserts: Painter's Pallette

Desserts: Painter’s Pallette

In my opinion, the Painter’s Palette of petit-fours was one of the best surprises this restaurant could offer. It had a little bit of everything: a slice of chocolate cake, Madeleines, berries, mousse, fruit and more. A total delight for the senses.

Overall the staff was very friendly, they checked to make sure we had a fabulous time and that everything in our spread was perfect; and very accommodating (they packed us an extra loaf of the oven baked bread when my Dad requested for it). The portions were gracious, and we had to pack the extras. The desserts however were too seductive to resist and we managed to gorge them all. The restaurant was well lit, perfect ambiance, great music, prompt service, and had customers enjoying themselves until late into midnight. This place is really worth it for the view, great food and impeccable service.

Dress Code: Smart Casuals

Price for 4 persons: AED 2500 – 3000. [With vouchers just AED 240.00]

Indoor & Outdoor seating available.

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

Alba @ The Ritz Carlton Hotel

It’s been a week only, and we decided to re-visit the Ritz Carlton for some of our very favorite Opera Cake (something that my sister spotted in the menu). The valets apparently recognized us and gave us a friendly “welcome back!” I guess I must admit, I’ve gotten used to the addiction of fine dining. Sometimes, I hoped that I would be given the opportunity of a food critic where I could visit such glamorous restaurants sans my guilt conscience. *sigh*

The night scene at the hotel was very dim, candle-lit and quiet. The enormously long chandelier-ed corridors reminded me of the earlier castle like experience. Not creepy, but not bustling either to prep up a relaxed holiday  mood. Anyways, as decided we proceeded to Alba – a typical tea-lounge within the lobby level. Finely upholstered and dimmed, we were greeted to some fine pastries and gourmet chocolate bars at the counter. Even though they were out of Opera pastries, they managed to arrange some from the high tea miniatures, which I felt was very polite of them, since not having to do so would have left me and my sister feeling disappointed.

Opera Minis

Opera Minis

Alba Tea Lounge @ The Ritz Carlton

Alba Tea Lounge @ The Ritz Carlton

We seated ourselves in front of a television screen which played one of the Charlie Chaplin classics – this I felt was in conjunction with the ambiance of the place. I quickly gulped my cappuccino and the pastry, while taking out some pics of the lounge. Frankly, there’s nothing much to say about the place, but nevertheless the staff, pastries and service was absolutely flawless. I would recommend this place for those looking for some quite or solitary time with their cuppa.

Price for Opera Miniatures – AED 45

Price for Cappuccino – AED 15

(All items are subject to 10% service tax & 6% tourism fee)

Urban Kitchen & Dolce

And so the much awaited day!!!!!

Whew what a milestone achieved! I’ll be frank…I’m a bit insecure about turning 30 – I’m not confident about my job yet, my MBA certification is still stuck at the University, my marriage is not yet confirmed and I still weigh 78.6 kgs. Shucks!

On the other hand, since I look forward to every day with much positivity I plan on remembering what I have achieved successfully so far, without letting myself into unnecessary comparison. I am by far a more firm and outspoken person unlike before and try not to panic on petty issues if it can be helped. I’m glad I have a job, and someone to love immensely for today. Tomorrow will see for itself.

Leaving it to that, I must inform that right now me and my sister are enjoying the independent freedom of home-alone kids (our parents are on vacation)…hehe not that we’re kids anymore, but the spinsterhood shows all over the house. Its the time when the laundry is over-piled, so also the dishes in the sink; cooking and cleaning is done once a week, trash is thrown in the morning and our work clothing is hanging about all the chairs and sofas. My sis however still keeps the discipline of sleeping early at night, I drowse myself with unlimited TV sitcoms.

Back to my birthday….I waited impatiently for midnight as Jaan was the first to call up and wish :), followed by his mom 10 minutes later! This is the first time she called for my birthday and that too by midnight. The plan was to dine the next day, as my sister was looking forward to a much awaited outing after a couple of weeks, and what more better way to compliment it than with Entertainer Vouchers. I wanted to try the new hotel – The Dusit Thani and so we used corresponding coupons. We had a single voucher for Friday Brunch at Urban Kitchen and managed to wake up on time to dress and arrive at the lunch hour.

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Dusit Thani Lobby Front

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The entrance to the place was splendid, and so was the lobby. Beautiful, clean, exquisite and spacious. The restaurant was located at the lobby level just behind the coffee lounge. The buffet spread was marvelously awesome and seemed unlimited! The restaurant respected the word brunch and therefore put up breakfast as well as lunch items mostly patronising the Thai cuisine along with other international dishes. We were greeted by desserts at the entrance, which I found peculiar, owing to being the last course. My sister however explained that she found the idea more attractive than a typical salad welcome. Point noted!

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After the endless array of mouth-watering pastries (I noted they had the suddenly popular opera pastry), puddings, Indian and Lebanese sweets, fruits and creme brulees, was the egg station (for breakfast), followed by a live cooking station for dim sums and appetisers. Parallel was the American breakfast items of pancakes, waffles, cereals, breads and cold cuts. We were then shown into the next phase – which was more like an adjoining room that kept the fruit juices and cocktails, followed by the opposite table for live sushi preparations and salads.

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The main course was divided into the larger table hosting rice and grilled preparations, and a small table for the kids with french fries, fish fingers and pasta. Another room at the back of the corridor had the live roast stations – for duck and meats. The kids had their own dark and milk chocolate fountains. Coffee and other hot beverages were not included on the buffet menu, but since I saw the coffee machine I inquired into it, and the waiter was kind enough to provide me and my sister complimentary drinks. Perhaps it was because we did not take advantage of the other house beverages.

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After lunch we took a quick tour of the place and noticed the lobby was way bigger than what it seems from the outside. There were several more restaurants on the same level including a Grill bar and a Royal Thai Restaurant. A beauty salon was also located on the opposite end beside the restrooms. An escalator led you to the Ballroom at the basement which was huge and lavish. Altogether the hotel experience was wonderful.

After this we drove off to The Ritz Carlton, for picking up a Birthday Cake that I had ordered at Dolce – a chic coffee lounge with bright orange colors. Overall the place looks like a bright candy house and I’m sure will be the kids favorite. The pastry chef definitely has some distinct tastes when it comes to pastries.  The Resort by itself is grand and lavish with several valets at your service at the entrance. When they came to know of my birthday I was greeted with a complimentary pastry from the staff. That was too sweet!

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Dusit Thani:

Ambience: Grand, Quite, Posh, Executive

Dining Experience: Urban Kitchen, Thai Cuisine, Friday Brunch Special

Price: AED 225++ per person, excluding house beverages.

The Ritz Carlton:

Ambience: Posh, Grand, Awesome.

Dining Experience: Dolce – best for tea and candy.

Price: As ordered.

The Noodle House

Nasi Goreng with Chicken Satay @ The Noodle House

Just completed a wonderful 3 day weekend on the occasion of Prophet Mohammed’s (p.b.u.h) birthday which was fortunately set upon Thursday. With the ongoing Dubai Shopping Festival in town, the malls and shopping centers were thronged with locals and tourists, especially the Electronics Showrooms.

I managed to keep some savings aside for a good meal as I enjoy fine dining with my sister. We shortlisted The Noodle House as we were in the mood for something oriental.

Even though we have been here before, it was our first time at the outdoor verandah, as the weather was wonderfully permitting. The ambience was serene, and the staff was swift with service. They provided us with a comfortable seating, precisely above the beach front.

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There are 2 branches in Abu Dhabi for this restaurant; while one is located at Al Wahdah Mall, on the ground floor of the shopping complex. The one we visited was located at Qaryat al Beri, away from the hub of the city at the creek precisely opposite the Great Zayed mosque. Alongside, you will also find Shangri La Hotel, Traders Hotel, and some distance further, The Fairmont.

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Opposite stands the Ritz Carlton – you could catch the glory of all its light works after sunset, with its magnificient reflection in the creek waters.

Anyways, back to the food. We ordered Salt and Pepper Calamari for starters (Oriental recipe or not, I leave you to be the judge of that) but we travel far and wide to savor this dish served with a spicy tangy & nutty sauce.

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Our main course orders were simple – Nasi Goreng: served with a mouth watering fried egg place above the rice, along with chicken satay and some prawn crackers.

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For the side was some Chinese styled Cashew Chicken, which was cooked to tender perfection and just enough spicy sauce. Specially recommended for all those Chinese / “Manchurian” food lovers.

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I particularly enjoyed the Curry Laksa – which is a noodle based coconut gravy soup served with steamed chicken and shrimps. The fresh herbs give it additional texture…it was marvelously awesome.

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There are a lot more exciting options provided on the menu, and if you are a first-timer, do not hesitate to ask your attendant, who would be happy to guide you based on your tastes. The total bill for 2 persons inclusive of beverages and service charges came to between AED 200-350.