A feast for the eyes

Sa­man­tha Wood tries out a se­lec­tion of Abu Dhabi’s finest restau­rants, which of­fer splen­did views of the Ara­bian Gulf and city sky­line

Business Traveller - - TASTE - Sa­man­tha Wood is founder of restau­rant re­view web­site food­iva.net

The UAE cap­i­tal lies on a T-shaped is­land jut­ting into the Ara­bian Gulf, with hun­dreds of smaller is­lands dot­ted across the seascape. Such a set­ting makes for some stun­ning back­drops, in par­tic­u­lar when the sun goes down – from ma­rina and canal to sea and rooftop vis­tas. Here are eight of Abu Dhabi’s best restau­rants with a view.

CIPRIANI

This Ital­ian in­sti­tu­tion is the restau­rant to pick for a view of the For­mula One Grand Prix race­track from its cir­cu­lar ter­race and win­dow ta­bles. Reser­va­tions for the last F1 event of the sea­son (Novem­ber 24-26) must be made well in ad­vance – oth­er­wise, grab­bing a ta­ble is easy. The lively boat-themed restau­rant perched on Yas Is­land’s ma­rina serves the tra­di­tional dishes Cipriani is known for world­wide – from baked tagli­olini and risotto pri­mav­era to carpac­cio alla Cipriani and egg­plant alla Parmi­giana. Save room for the vanilla meringue – and don’t for­get to start your meal with a Bellini aper­i­tif made with fresh peach purée and pros­ecco, à la Harry’s Bar.

Open 6pm-12am daily. Three cour­ses Dhs 450 (£94). Yas Ma­rina, Yas Is­land; tel +971 2657 5400; cipri­aniya­sis­land.com

BUTCHER AND STILL

Abu Dhabi’s lat­est steak­house, on Al Maryah Is­land in the Four Sea­sons ho­tel, boasts a re­tractable wall that opens up to a pa­tio and a panoramic view across the water to the glit­ter­ing-by-night Cor­niche sky­line. This 1920s Chicago-themed restau­rant echoes the era of Al Capone, com­plete with bul­let cas­ings. The steaks and chops are all USDA nat­u­ral Black An­gus sus­tain­ably sourced from a Kansas farm. Try the 1.2kg Tom­a­hawk rib eye, eas­ily shared be­tween two peo­ple, if not more.

A pre- or post-din­ner cock­tail in the buzzing bar is manda­tory, if only to have the bar­tender knock up a mar­tini in a hu­man-sized “Tan­queray No 10 Im­pe­rial Mar­tini Shaker”, one of only five in the world. A lift de­scends two floors to a pri­vate din­ing room rem­i­nis­cent of a speakeasy, which fea­tures a vin­tage whiskey col­lec­tion.

Open daily 6pm-12am. Three cour­ses Dhs 500 (£104). Four Sea­sons Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Is­land; tel +971 2333 2222; butcherand­still.com

SAMBUSEK

Din­ers can en­joy the out­door ter­race of this pop­u­lar Le­banese restau­rant dur­ing Abu Dhabi’s cooler months, over­look­ing the Al Maryah wa­ter­front and city sky­line. Lo­cated in the Rose­wood ho­tel, it is a pris­tine, el­e­gant space for a quiet lunch, but trans­forms it­self into an up­beat restau­rant fre­quented by Le­banese so­cialites in the evening. As its name sug­gests (sambusek is a mini Le­banese savoury pas­try), the food is tra­di­tional, with the kitchen helmed by a Le­banese chef. Aside from a busi­ness lunch menu, din­ner ser­vice of­fers a choice of four set menus, plus the à la carte. Visit with an empty stom­ach.

12pm-3.30pm, 7pm-12.30am daily. Three cour­ses Dhs 270 (£56). Rose­wood Abu Dhabi; tel +971 2813 5550; rose­wood­ho­tels.com

COYA

The con­tem­po­rary Peru­vian restau­rant with two lo­ca­tions in Lon­don, plus an­other in Dubai, opened in March this year on Al Maryah Is­land. Whether opt­ing for a ter­race or win­dow ta­ble, the views across the cap­i­tal’s sky­line are breath­tak­ing, in par­tic­u­lar at night. The In­can-de­signed din­ing room and sep­a­rate pisco lounge with a Latino band en­cour­ages guests to take to the dance­floor – all adding to Coya’s vi­brancy. The food mim­ics the am­bi­ence, with dishes ooz­ing punchy flavour and play­ful pre­sen­ta­tion, rang­ing from de­li­cious ce­viches, tira­di­tos (raw seafood in a spicy sauce) and tacos to an­tic­u­cho skew­ers and cazuela iron pot dishes.

Open daily 12.30pm-5pm, 7pm-12am. Three cour­ses Dhs 300 (£62). The Gal­le­ria, Al Maryah Is­land; tel +971 2306 7000; co­yarestau­rant.com

CATCH

As the name im­plies, this restau­rant over­look­ing Abu Dhabi’s main white sandy beach and turquoise waters is all about seafood. Motherof-pearl in­spi­ra­tion em­bod­ies the UAE’s age-old div­ing tra­di­tion, and en­hances a mod­ern in­te­rior with a glass-en­cased open kitchen and a pa­tio. Dishes are Mid­dle East­ern with an Asian twist. Apart from typ­i­cal fish and seafood dishes, the se­lec­tion also in­cludes sushi, sashimi, caviar and oys­ters – with plenty of meat op­tions for car­ni­vores, too. The jumbo crab tartare with a yel­low tomato and lime dress­ing bal­ances tex­ture with flavour.

12pm-1am daily. Three cour­ses Dhs 320 (£67). Na­tion Riviera Beach Club, Abu Dhabi Cor­niche (op­po­site the St Regis); tel +971 2611 0909; catch.ae

ASIA DE CUBA

Sit­ting next to Catch in the same beach club is Lon­don and New York con­cept Asia de Cuba. The view across the Ara­bian Gulf may be sim­i­lar, but the ter­race is much more ex­pan­sive with a cock­tail bar, beach deck and ca­banas that din­ers can choose to eat in. The flavours and cooking tech­niques de­vel­oped by the Cuban-born global cor­po­rate chef marry Asian with Latino. Ce­viche, small plates, sal­ads, sig­na­ture wok dishes and main cour­ses make up an in­trigu­ing à la carte menu. View aside, the shrimp chur­ros and Cuban chicken bao buns are worth a visit alone.

Open daily 6pm-12am, plus 12pm-3pm Fri-Sat. Three cour­ses Dhs 270 (£56). Na­tion Riviera Beach Club; tel +971 2699 3333; asi­ade­cuba.com/abu_d­habi

RAY’S GRILL

The 360-de­gree wrap­around views of Abu Dhabi and the Ara­bian Gulf en­sure this con­tem­po­rary steak­house on the 63rd floor of Jumeirah at Eti­had Tow­ers is a prime lunch and din­ner bucket list venue. At night, the city’s twin­kling lights make a mes­meris­ing ac­com­pa­ni­ment to the steak cuts.

The meat is sourced from around the world – from Ar­gentina and Aus­tralia to New Zealand, France and the US, with all cuts dry-aged for 28 days and char­grilled. On top of the steak, a top menu pick is the beef tartare pre­pared ta­ble­side.

Open 7pm-11pm daily. Three cour­ses Dhs 400 (£83). Jumeirah at Eti­had Tow­ers; tel +971 2811 5666; jumeirah.com

INAKAYA

The cap­i­tal’s Vene­tian Vil­lage, part of the sprawl­ing Ritz-Carl­ton com­plex, mim­ics a charm­ing neigh­bour­hood with Renaissance-style build­ings. Restau­rants dot the court­yard, one of which is the Ja­panese trans­plant from Ja­pan and New York, Inakaya. Its quaint ter­race of­fers un­in­ter­rupted vis­tas of the canal and the rip­pling waters. Round the cor­ner and you may just glimpse the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in all its glory, a stun­ning ar­chi­tec­tural mas­ter­piece that ri­vals the Taj Ma­hal.

Din­ing at Inakaya is in­ter­ac­tive theatre. The fo­cus is on ro­batayaki – the Ja­panese art of grilling, which is as much about per­for­mance as it is about cooking style – as well as sushi and sashimi rolled and sliced by the chefs mas­ter­ing their knife skills.

Open daily 12.30pm-11pm. Three cour­ses Dhs 260 (£54). Vene­tian Vil­lage, Ritz-Carl­ton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal; tel +971 2404 1921; vene­tianvil­lage.ae/inakaya

Above: Cipriani

Above and left: Butcher and Still Be­low: Sambusek

Above and above right: Catch

Above and left: Coya

Above and right: Inakaya Be­low left: Ray’s Grill

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