Top-notch sun­downer spot

Beach Rotana’s out­door lounge gets a makeover

What's On (Abu Dhabi) - - LIFE’S A BEACH -

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.

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