Spice Mela is an Indian-inspired restaurant with romantic views of the Arabian gulf. The dishes aren’t limited to one region in India, which has created a satisfyingly varied menu. Before the meal, customers are served a bowl of deep fried vegetable crisps instead of the usual poppadums; with a mix of purple potato, sweet potato, taro root and banana crisps, it is a delicious start to an even more satisfying meal. The dishes come from various regions such as Rajasthan and Punjab, as well as the southern Indian regions. Menu recommendations include chef Siddharth’s konkan green chicken, which is a succulent chicken prepared with fresh green herbs, cashew nuts and hot green chillies.
For those looking for an Indian restaurant which is more regional in its approach, Indigo is ideal. Cooking up North Indian cuisine, the traditional dishes are combined with a modern, avant-garde approach to cooking. For two people to share, the sikandari raan comes highly recommended, consisting of a pot roasted leg of lamb, stuffed prunes, pickled onion and cheese baked under the ‘purdah’ pastry and served with roast gravy. Diners can also find contemporary favourites on the menu such as biryani, kebabs and chaat.
Vasa Vasa is an authentic Italian gelateria located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Muneera residences, with stunning views of the Al Raha Beach. The ethos behind Vasa Vasa, is to create products made of 100 percent natural ingredients, with ingredients imported from Italy. Using Cattabriga machines is what sets Vasa Vasa’s ice cream apart from the run-of-the-mill scoops, as the machines make ice cream softer and creamier. The gelateria serves a variety of chocolate, vanilla, pistachio and hazelnut flavours. The pistachio ice cream is slightly yellow in appearance which is down to the company not using any artificial additives.
Vasa Vasa, Al Muneera, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, +971 2 555 6484
Villa Toscana mixes the rusticity of hand-crafted, regional Italian specialities with panache in a modern and sophisticated setting, with the inspiration behind the regional dishes coming from Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna. Despite offering a wide range of tasty pizzas for takeaway, it is the a la carte menu in which they excel: try the veal rolls stuffed with porcini mushrooms, and the cheese stracciatella, Milanese style, served with mashed potatoes and green pepper veal jus. The menu is twinned with a sophisticated and thoughtful wine list.
Award-winning Rodeo Grill at the Beach Rotana is not only Abu Dhabi’s first steakhouse; it is also widely regarded as the best. The high-backed emerald green leather chairs give the restaurant a truly intimate and cozy feel. The various cuts of meat are some of the most tender and tasty you will find in the whole of the Emirates. Ranking as one of the most popular dishes on the menu, the Blackmore 9+ is a superior Wagyu steak. The cattle is grain fed for a minimum of 600 days, which creates a minimum marble score of grade 9+ and will be one of the finest steaks you will ever have the chance to try. As well as steaks, the restaurant also has an offering for other tastes and requirements, including their famous Tijuana-style Caesar salad.
As it name suggests, Marakesh is a sophisticated Moroccan restaurant located in the center of Abu Dhabi. Even if there were a number of Moroccan-inspired restaurants in Abu Dhabi (which there isn’t), this restaurant would still rank amongst the best. Its interior is a very opulent and resembles a banquet hall. Every day, there are a number of post-dinner entertainments such as belly dancers, singers and Moroccan bands. The menu consists of a Moroccan classics like tagines, along with North African-inspired salads, fish, seafood and meat grills.
Bord Eau is an extremely decadent restaurant in the heart of Abu Dhabi, and the number one destination for any lovers of French cuisine. The restaurant was commended as the Restaurant of the Year in the BBC Good Food Awards 2013. Assiduous in its use of haute cuisine techniques, Bord Eau combines fine ingredients with just the right amount of creative flair. An example of this is the pan-seared venison tenderloin with William pear, brussels sprouts, figs and cassis reduction, which is simply divine. Only the best ingredients imported straight from France will suffice, making Bord Eau one of the most celebrated restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
Living up to its name, Al Maqam is Arabic for ‘gathering place’. The restaurant is set in the Arabian Nights Village, a cultural area in the desert just outside of the Emirate. Customers can choose whether they want to sit at dining tables or in a more traditional fashion, on low sofas, or traditional floor cushions. The guests can also choose whether they would like to dine in the spacious hall with fire pits in the winter months, or the palm-thatch terrace with romantic views of the desert. From the traditional local Emirati and Arabic recipes to classics of international cuisine, Al Maqam also offers a full culinary experience, including bread-making lessons.
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill
Marco Pierre White is one of the world’s best chefs, having been awarded three Michelin stars, and his Steakhouse and Grill certainly lives up to expectations. The restaurant is certainly a carnivore’s dream, serving some of the best steaks in the city. Although the menu is big and tasty, the restaurant stands proudly amongst the more elegant fine dining restaurants in the city. Try not to miss the Master Kobe, pure bred Wagyu cattle with a marble score of 9+. Although excelling in steaks, the extensive menu also accommodates other tastes and includes a wide selection of seafood, with Kelly oysters, Scottish salmon and Devon and Alaskan crab soup on the bill.
Still a newcomer to the city’s cuisine, Catalan opened in 2013 but has already affirmed itself as one of the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi. Anyone unfamiliar with the cuisine of Catalonia will be in for a surprise, as the dishes are simply delightful. The interior is styled on a rustic European 20th-century salon, with the décor not dissimilar to that seen in Barcelona. Michelin-starred chef Francisco Sanabria hand-crafts the interesting menu, aiming to merge ‘the traditional and contemporary to shape a unique gourmet experience for even the most sophisticated palate’. Guests can choose from paellas, beef tenderloin, veal cheeks and marinated red deer, among other menu highlights. The restaurant’s slow-cooked milk-fed lamb shoulder with creamy potatoes, dates and dried tomatoes is a Catalonian dish inspired by the restaurant’s Arabic setting.
By Jake Setterfield