Avasa Indian Kitchen - Saadiyat Collection, Abu Dhabi
I think it is easy to go overboard when creating a high end Indian dining establishment because Indian culture is as old as life itself and there are so many aspects that can be included in the decor. I am pleased to say that Avasa Indian Kitchen strikes that balance between creating an Indian ambience without going the gaudy route. The restaurant retains a simple feel thanks to the wicket furniture outside, but as you go inside you will see a marriage of the simple and decorative with gorgeous furniture. On one of the walls is an opulent gold plate - no, again not gaudy - it is juxtaposed by 8000 Indian bangles of various colours dangling in front of it in a piece that could have been taken from an art exhibition at Manarat Saadiyat, a nearby art gallery complex. Finally, the explosive colorful paintings create a sense of a restaurant embracing both the past but also grounded in the present, creating a very contemporary restaurant experience.
|Inside seating is bright but tasteful.|
|Colourful abstract pieces set Avasa very much in the present.|
We started off with an amuse bouche that was essentially a lentil dumpling stuffed with yogurt and mint sauce, with tamarind sauce on top with a bit of coriander garnish. This was a celebration of subtlety in taste and a continuation of my journey of understanding Indian cuisine.
For starters we ordered palak and cheese tikki which is a flat croquette of cottage cheese and spinach, the Punjabi fish tikka, which is a North Indian spiced fish that is charcoal grilled and also the potato samosas. While we enjoyed all three, the fish and samosas stood out. They were tantalizing. The fish was not too spicy, allowing you to appreciate the natural taste of the fish, while the samosas showed how much one can do with potatoes. Delicious indeed.
|Lentil dumpling amuse bouche.|
|The pic does the potato samosa no justice.|
It proved to be a perfect accompaniment to my main which included the Dhaba style lamb, a typical street style curry and the intriguing pomegranate lamb chops, described on the menu as lamb with 'sour pomegranate, saffron mashed potatoes and sweet house chutney'. My daughter tried the Kashmiri mutton korma (parents take note) because it was less spicy than the other main dishes. And just for good measure, we also had to taste the Goan prawn curry. Finally, our waitress surprised us with a dish she described as Hyderabad style mutton biryani. She felt it was a dish we had to try. As I write this, I realise that we ate a lot! That was the problem. Avasa has so many inviting dishes on the menu that I wanted to try everything.
|The Sula Shiraz surpised me by its intensity.|
The verdict? My favourite undoubtedly the Dhaba style lamb which had a bit of kick to it. Lamb beautifully cooked. The biryani had the most interesting presentation - Chef covers the dish with flatbread dough and cooks it, allowing the taste and aroma to be trapped inside. At the table, the waitress then removed the bread and served it. Loved it.
|The biryani with a bit of curry from the Dhaba lamb and mutton korma.|
|Kulfi with fruit caviar.|
|No it's not coffee - masala chai. Loved the cup.|
So, the decor and the food excellent were both superb, how did the service measure up? From my blog posts you will know how big I am on service: serve me a stone but do so with grace, elegance and knowledge, and I will return! The first thing struck me about our waiting staff was how well spoken they were. Mayank and Angie moved around effortlessly, bringing our dishes and engaging us on a variety of topics. They both made entrances and exits at the most appropriate of times, and were adept at sensing our needs. In addition, Angie was very good with Mitsuki (7 years old), making her feel at ease and encouraging her to explore the menu. She did not over-do it though, which I think is a hard balance for waiting staff to strike as they try and engage young diners. Angie and Mayank made me feel I was indeed in a kitchen with familiar people talking over a meal, while all the time delivering very professional service.
|This diner looks shy, but was thrilled to meet Chef.|
The low down
Avasa Indian Kitchen
The Collection at St Regis on Saadiyat,
02 674 2221
Starters 40-85 Dhs
Soups and Green 35-43 Dhs
Tandoor 58-120 Dhs
Sweets 32-42 Dhs
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