Romano’s Macaroni Grill

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Italian delights at the WTC

For those who have not yet ventured into Abu Dhabi’s own World Trade Centre, you have aptly missed the next big thing of the Emirate. The building or rather structure has been beautifully constructed in contemporary style stretching over Hamdan and Khalifa Street. A magnificent foray of international stores with infinitesimal brands line the insides of this place. There’s a dedicated dining floor catering to various cuisines, and we have been intently waiting for the opening of Romano’s Macaroni Grill for some Italian delightful presentations.

So what’s different about the restaurant?
After you have been escorted to your table, you will observe it has been topped with blank chart paper. Your attendant will introduce him/herself by inscribing her name on it with crayons. Feel free to write / draw or even comment upon it.

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Next, somewhere in between the entire staff get together and break into a pleasant song!

It’s simply inadequate for us to get into a restaurant and avoid ordering Calamari Fritti (pictured above) from the menu. We thus indulged ourselves into a generous serving of the crispy snack served crackling hot with tomato salsa.
For main courses, we were recommended pasta Farfalle and Grilled Chicken with spaghetti.

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And of course the Tiramisu, which my sister marveled upon. It was prepared very conventionally,  which made it more hard to resist and we scraped the dish clean in no time.

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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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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.

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

Ikea Restaurant: Yas Island

Sometimes the best dishes can be got at the simplest of places at the most affordable prices.

After my tryst at a hotel restaurant at the same place – Yas Island, the experience at
Ikea Restaurant was a lot more satisfactory. A large area of the top floor is occupied by the restaurant which works on self service, plus the seating area has a couple of kid play spots.

A choice of vegetarian & non-vegetarian main courses are available along with cold starters, fresh salads, soups and a few desserts. The portions are a lot more happier** with a new menu everyday.

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So be it shopping at one of the largest furniture stores in the middle east, or a visit to the Ferari theme park / Yas Waterworld, you could always drop by at this kid-friendly economic restaurant.

What NOT to miss:
Unlimited beverages from the soda fountain / coffee machine.
**portions large enough for 2 persons