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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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.

Dome Cafe @ Al Wahdah Mall

Grilled Hamour Fillet in Cream Sauce

Grilled Hamour Fillet in Cream Sauce @ Dome Cafe

What’s stylish, delicious and economical? If you feeling like you want to binge on some classy food, and at the same time you seem tight on your budget then visit your nearest Dome Cafe which is located in 2 malls – Khalidiyah Mall (over looking the Khalidiyah Street), and Al Wahdah Mall (no scenic seating, but still enjoyable). They have daily specials, make sure to try the dishes from the Hot Kitchen Menu. They also serve breakfast, beverages, cocktails and desserts.

Chicken Supreme @ Dome Cafe

Chicken Supreme @ Dome Cafe

Price for two people: 2 Main Courses + 2 Soft Drinks + 1 Small Mineral Water – AED 75.00

The Cafe @ Park Hyatt Hotel, Saadiyat Island

Chili Prawns Linguine

Early morning..fresh breeze…pleasant weather conditions..beautiful drive to Saadiyat Island. I have many memories of this place as a kid. The only route to this island would be via motorized dhow, and reservations for the onboard hotel would need to be done in advance. I don’t remember it being on a 5 star level, and we would stay in chalets along the beach, but the hotel was overall great and a major tourist attraction back in 80s and 90s until it was closed for tourists.

Today the place is accessible by road, and we reached as quickly as 15 minutes with my sister’s car. The place is transformed into a beach paradise with 2 super luxury 5 star hotels and numerous villas for residents on lease / ownership basis in several pockets over the island. There seems to be still scope for more as we noticed many sites under construction and boards displaying upcoming hotels.

We had Entertainer Vouchers for The Cafe @ Park Hyatt Hotel, which is at the last end of the island. Getting there is easy as long as you follow the tourist directions on the side of the road. The entrance of the hotel looked simple and quiet and we almost thought we were the only customers venturing into the hotel, but we came upon more guests later at the restaurant.

The Hotel is beautifully designed in white marble, wood and metal colors, with quiet exquisite fountains in every corner. The central glass window is the first attraction you will see as soon as you enter which boasts with the full display of the pools and the beach beyond.

Pools and Beach: Park Hyatt Hotel

Pools and Beach: Park Hyatt Hotel

The restaurants: The Park & The Cafe are located on the ground floor, opposite each other.

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We went into The Cafe (we had seen the menu before hand in The Entertainer Book, and I was in the mood for some Italian food), The Park opens only for dinner. We were greeted by Mr. Patrick, who was very courteous and hospitable, and accommodated us on the pool view seats. I ordered the Chili Prawns Linguine, while my sister ordered the Fish & Chips with tartar sauce. Both dishes were perfect, and served within no time. The waiters checked on us from time to time and went out of their way to make our dishes an absolute delight.

Chili Prawns Linguine

Chili Prawns Linguine

Fish & Chips @ The Cafe

Fish & Chips @ The Cafe

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng

Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng

We also ordered dessert, which was a little too tempting to miss – Tiramisu.

Tiramisu @ The Cafe

Tiramisu @ The Cafe

At the end of the fab lunch, we took a tour around the restaurant, which was a charming place with its numerous fountains, pools and the grandeur of the beach. My sister did not feel she was at Abu Dhabi as the island had restored its place as a tourist spot. This place is surely worth a visit on the weekends.

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Price for two people with Dessert & Mineral Water – AED 350.00 to AED 500.00

All items are subject to 10% Service Tax and 6% Tourism Fee.

Jimmy’s Killer Prawns

Yippee…weekend again!

Been a long and stressed filled week…was supposed to be at a night club last night, but couldn’t find the energy to move after returning home from and putting down my bags…so I just tossed myself to sleep.

Didn’t have much household chores for today & besides, did not have any part-time either, and…oh yea! forgot to mention…yesterday my folks purchased The Entertainer Abu Dhabi edition, where each of us as family members had to contribute equally. I think for all of you foodies out there in Abu Dhabi, The Entertainer is a brilliant saver for AED 395. It gives you and your accompanied companion a chance to afford food ranging from high class gourmet spreads, to the simple hamburgers for the price of one. And this year’s edition comes with an awesomely fantastic offer for one night’s complimentary stay at Ten selected 5 star hotels / resorts, with the purchase of one night’s booking! The book is available at all leading bookstores. I recommend you get your copy from Borders, as you will earn a AED 60 voucher on further purchases.

Anyways, making best use of the offers and vouchers we selected a place to dine out tonight and shortlisted another seafood delight…Jimmy’s Killer Prawns @ Mushrif Mall.

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Often we have past this place, and have been very tempted to get inside, but I’ll be frank…I couldn’t afford those platters for me and my sis. Today’s voucher made a huge difference to our wallets as we shared the price of one platter 😀

I underestimated the crowd at the mall! It was like the entire city was right there. After thorough searching we managed to squeeze our car into one of the slots in the basement parking. My mind suddenly dreaded the thought of not finding seats at the place, but my sis assured me we’d find a table for two easily. She was right.

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The ambience was perfect. Plush and clean interiors & the aroma of cooked shrimps filled the zone as soon as you entered. The staff were very professional in seating, waiting and recommending the best – promptly. So no limitations where service was concerned.

As usual we couldn’t possibly miss the Calamari for our appetisers. We had a choice of grilled or fried. Other similar first courses included garlic bread, seafood salads, soups, etc. I must mention the freshness of the calamari as both the fish as well as the batter melted in your mouth promptly.

My sis chose the Prawn & Calamari platter for her main course, which included grilled calamari and grilled prawns with some rice that tasted like paella.

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Mine was a similar platter with grilled fish & prawns, served with rice, french fries and fried veggies.

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As you can notice, the portions were large making it absolutely worth its price. Each of these platters ranged between AED 70 – 150 depending on ingredients. We were also served with sauces – spicy tobasco, butter & mustard. A waste bowl was also placed on the table for ridding your prawn shells, etc.

The entire set up was fantastic. Non-seafood eaters who wish to treat your seafood-eater-counterpart could also enjoy traditional steakhouse dishes like rib-eye steaks and grilled chicken. We were too full to manage any desserts, but yes they were available.

Overall experience was good, though I must advise to take your own mouth freshners (unless its not date night or it doesn’t make any difference to you), as well as your own wet tissues in case you have used your hands to shell your prawns. Bon Appetite.