Top-notch sundowner spot
Beach Rotana’s outdoor lounge gets a makeover
The revamped and renamed outdoor terrace reopened in mid-October at one of the capital’s older but still vibrant hotels, the Beach Rotana. It’s clearly still a favourite place to hang out – there wasn’t a spare chair to be had for long during the two hours we dined there on a recent Wednesday night. The setting is the very description of idyllic, with tables and lounge areas surrounding the massive fountain in the hotel’s courtyard, tall palm trees providing a gorgeous canopy. The purple lights of the Cleveland Clinic augment the buzzy atmosphere, boosted by the sounds of diners at the bustling outdoor patios of Brauhaus and Prego nearby.
This is really more a venue for a shisha, some mocktails and shared bites than a sit-down meal, although when we dug into their menu we were quite happy with what we turned up. As it was still quite warm, we stuck to selections from the cold appetisers section.
The avocado baba ghanouj (Dh33) topped with walnuts and served with flatbread isn’t something you see very often, despite the ubiquitous nature of the pear-shaped fruit. And we think we know why: it doesn’t really work. The creamy, mild avocado, normally perfect for so many things, acted like a wet blanket for the rich, smoky flavour of the aubergine. The fattoush salad on the other hand, was perfect: the radish, tomato and lettuce were crisp and bursting with flavour; the dressing, unlike so many other versions, provided just the right tartness. As the weather was still quite warm outside, we couldn’t muster our stomachs up for any of the heavy lamb and chicken options on The Grills section, so we took to the sea. The grilled jumbo prawns (Dh155), served with some pale, undercooked French fries we didn’t pay much attention to, were buttery and meaty, flayed open and cooked to perfection. The salmon fillet (Dh115), though, was the star of the meal: tender, juicy and with the most delicately sweet soya and sesame glaze. It was served with a light wasabi mayo, the spice offsetting the sweetness perfectly; the dish was accented with a tiny pile of fresh seaweed salad. For dessert we stuck to the kunafa nabulsieh (Dh40) and it was magnificent: the slight saltiness of the warm, soft cheese mingled with the crisp shredded dough, all married together with rich drizzles of sugar syrup.
The service at La Shorfa is a little hit-or-miss, however, mostly due to staff being run off their feet. Perhaps a few more bodies would help and these things usually iron themselves out once a venue has hit its operational stride. The harried waiters and managers dashing about resulted in a few missed connections (our water never arrived, for example). But whenever we were being taken care of by the kind and capable fellow who seated us, things were perfect: he was not only exceedingly attentive and friendly, but knew his stuff. If you can get a table, Al Shorfa, despite a few kinks, will provide you with a tasty and lively evening out.
Al Shorfa, Beach Rotana, Tourist Club, Abu Dhabi, Mon to Sun, 10.30am to 12am. Tel: (02) 6979100. Rotana.com