Frankie’s @ Fairmont, Bab Al Bahr

Perhaps the name is a bit too casual?

If you’re looking to experience a succulent Italian dinner, gourmet style and in a posh ambience you must head to the beautiful hotel of Fairmont, located between the bridges. The opulent works at the grand entrance will surely engage you into exploring the premises, especially at day when the pristine waters of the pool and sea will behest you to stay.

Beyond the lobby, a descending staircase will lead you to several doorways – restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and hangouts, from which Frankie’s was one of them in the corridor to the right. The name, is a collaboration between the horse jockey – Frankie Dettori and Marco Pierre, the latter of which is well known and respected in the culinary world. The entrance is plush, and well-mannered attendees present you with their assiduous service. I do not know how they manage to boast of an open pizza kitchen while maintaining a well air conditioned restaurant. The pizza premise is an open invitation for all those who would swap their pastas for a mouth-full of pizza I suppose. Either way, it was fun to watch, with the chef meticulously rolling out his dough, glazing it with sauce and toppings, only to put it in the oven for few minutes and pronto! you have a steaming aroma of goodness among bubbling hot mozarella. Hungry yet?

Organ music promptly followed midway through our meal. Clearly, as we surveyed the customers, this was a quiet place for lovers, young and old romantic couples alike. Our order was Fried Calamari for appetizers, followed by Seafood Platter for the main course – the special for the day.

Fresh bread was served along with our starters with three of our favorite dips – olive, pesto and tomato. Calamari Fritti was served with tartar sauce and salad cream.

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Our main course was a generous spread of Grilled Calamari, Jumbo Shrimps, a cube of Grilled Salmon and some Scallops, along with steamed asparagus and some fried potato wedges. The taste was as excellent as the service.

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As I always say, never exit an Italian place without tasting the true essence of Italy – Tiramisu. I have heard much about its famed preparation: The Tiramisu Trio as it is known, and has three glassed servings of awesomeness – Amaretti, Classic (for chocolate lovers) and Amarena (rum lovers). The experience was ever fulfilling.

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It is recommended to reserve a table in day in advance, as the place can get crowded on weekends, and definitely you do not wish to miss this dessert. The Seafood platter is AED 225 excluding service tax and tourism fee (16%). Wine and spirits are also served at the restaurant.

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.