Showing posts from June, 2014

El Sur Saturday brunch - The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina

I had no intention of writing about my last brunch before Ramdan as I walked in to The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort.  I simply wanted a peaceful afternoon with no pen, paper and food porn. However, as I looked around  the restaurant, I remained committed to not taking out a pen and paper, but I had to take pics and would blog from memory. So readers, forgive this post if it lacks the details you come to appreciate in food writing.

  The sculpture at the entrance immediately and simply tells you where you are.  A sculpture made of wire and cloth depicting a half man-half bull matador holding a muleta serves to contextualise the restaurant on so many levels: contemporary, simple and cool. A quick glance around the room reveals a hanging garden, a number of natural oak wood tables, wooden floors and a great deal of natural light - the natural theme is very strong here and as I was to discover, would be reflected in the emphasis on natural ingredients on the menu.

As I am shown t…

French Bistro night at Giornotte - Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi

As I am greeted at Giornotte, RitzCarlton with a welcome drink on arrival at their French bistro night, I have no idea how significant this night would be for me.  On a previous visit to Giornotte I experienced their Friday brunch and was surprised on so many levels. In that post I commented briefly on the excellent staff to guest ratio. The engagement by the chefs that night was also something worth noting.

This would be a different occasion though. While brunches are usually packed and have a buzz and an energy about them, weeknights are usually quiet and low on atmosphere. This evening, on the other hand, promised much. There was nothing like it in the city. I had one leading question in my mind as I was lead to my seat by the elegant hostess - elegant and cultured hostesses a Ritz Carlton trademark: will Giornotte succeed in making me feel that I was experiencing some elements of  a bistro in what is an opulent and grand setting? A bistro, by definition, is a…

Li Beirut - Jumeirah At Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi.

Hummus. Tabouleh. Fatoush. Baba ghanoush. The grills. Baklava. Mamoul. Kunaffa. I know that my evening will include these dishes, all typically Lebanese. I know what to expect as I am greeted by the hostess and then Mohammed, the assistant manager and shown to my seat. First impressions. They get how valuable it is to engage the guest the moment he or she walks through that door. Nice.

Li Beirut is sumptuous. The gorgeous floor to ceiling windows offer a clear view of the water outside. The parquet floors create warmth. The restaurant is all elegance.  Crisp white table cloths are balanced with reds and maroons. Exquisite china and cutlery. Everything is very tastefully done. Nothing gaudy or kitschy here.

I am handed the elegantly presented menu in black with simple gold script on the cover. Stylish. I am also given an ipad with the wine list. That moment there served as an early indicator of what Li Beirut is all about. My waiter for the night is Marlon. While he is the head waiter, …

Ushna - Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

Contemporary Indian cuisine. That is how Ushna markets itself. It is part of the Qaryat Al Beri complex in Abu Dhabi, and as I approach the restaurant, a couple of questions float through my mind. Is it not hurt by the fact that it is a stand-alone restaurant, without the backing of a big brand hotel? In going for a contemporary take on Indian cuisine, does it succeed? Does it live up to the name 'Ushna'? As I am greeted at the door, my questions are answered to a large extent. I can't help noticing the countless awards it has won. Ahead of me I see a bar with the mixologist holding a cocktail shaker, creating a drink. To my right I see a cosy sitting area with a cabinet holding cigars. Before even being seated, I have a very strong impression of Ushna. A few questions remain unanswered, but I am welcomed and shown to my seat.

Orange and red predominate. Paintings reflect the same colours. Oh, definitely 'Ushna' I think to myself - It is indeed warm and welcoming. …

Hotel stay - Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Tranquil. That is the word that enters my mind as I arrive at Rosewood Hotel in Abu Dhabi for a stay. Peaceful. That is the word that imposed itself on my mind as I check in to my Premier Executive room. An oasis of calm. That is the expression that sticks as I am offered a refreshing cool towel and equally refreshing drink at check in. Gorgeous, low key lighting sets the tone for that feeling of calm. The hushed tones of the staff reinforce that. Our butler greets us in the lobby and takes us to our room. He explains that along with a team of butlers, he will  be ensuring that we have a great stay. Understated elegance. That is my thought as we enter the room. Soft and warm tones continue the subtle arrest of the senses that started in the lobby.

The Arabic influences, is so subtle and stylishly shown - the Islamic star, the iconic  symbol of the Rosewood Abu Dhabi brand is used in the room. The view. Ah the view. Expansive. The near ceiling to floor windows with its sumptuous views,…