Showing posts from February, 2015

Chocolate Gallery Afternoon Tea - Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi

The Chocolate Gallery has been a  favourite with local media since it opened its doors a few years ago. It has been a year since my last visit, when in fairness, I was underwhelmed. In trying it again, I was hoping to see just what the hype was about.

Afternoon Tea offers three options, with a different set served each day. I am curious to get feedback on this, and I ask the in-house chocolatier if this works. He responds by saying he has guests who come in on a certain day because they know how the cycle and that each guest has identified his her favourite set. What I like about it as that each set has raisin scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam as standard. The variation comes in the sweet and savoury components. On this day, it will be Afternoon Tea Set 3. There is a choice of around 80 teas to choose from; very impressive. Guests also have an option to make it a bubbly experience by having Valdo Prosecco added to their set. My daughter, meanwhile, has  a look at the…

The Terrace Brunch - Zaya Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi

As I have noted before on numerous occasions, brunches have a tough task trying to differentiate themselves from the other brunches. In fact, brunches are so similar, that out of ten, I find myself remembering 2 or 3. With Zaya Nurai Island introducing its brunch, it was an opportunity to see how they would fair in offering a brunch that stands out from the rest.

Arrival The experience starts at the Zaya Nurai Welcome Centre on Saadiyat Island. A cosy and comfortable waiting area where our reservation is confirmed and we are told that the speed boat to take us to the island will leave soon. Once on board, we are given life jackets. The boat trip is around 15 minutes. Quite surreal knowing we are taking a  boat to have Friday brunch. The waters are beautiful. Turquoise. On arrival, we are escorted to a reception room where we are offered a  wet towel and a welcome drink. It is a miserable and dusty day, but this does not detract from the obvious beauty of the island. 

Concept Keep it simpl…

Namm Spa - Dusit Thani, Abu Dhabi

On a recent stay at Dusit Thani, I indulged in one of the spa treatments at Namm Spa. The moment you walk in, the name of the spa is brought home to you: namm, Thai for water, is evidenced in the soft blue and white colour scheme. Water, with its ability to heal, is an appropriate name for a spa as it is one of the essential elements in life.

I am greeted with a wet towel and glass warm ginger tea. Potent and cleansing. I look at the spa menu and choose Thai Harmony massage. After formalities of filling in forms are out of the way, my Thai therapist leads me to the treatment room. As I am guided to the room, I feel an overwhelming sense of clam - it is quiet and tranquil. On my way, I glance in at one of the other treatment rooms.  A milk bath immediately catches my eye - next time, I reflect to myself.

In my room, the low lighting and ambient music continue the sense of serenity I had earlier. The room is minimalist and with earthy colours dominating, there are few distractions. I am s…

Indian cuisine at Ushna - Souk at Qaryat Al Berri, Abu Dhabi (next to Shangri-la)

Ushna, one of the most decorated Indian restaurants in the city in terms of awards and  accolades, is currently part of Abu Dhabi Gourmet, a celebration of restaurants and food in the city.  Chef Sandeep Ai has specially created  a menu that is designed to take patrons across the different regions of India. To the uninitiated, all Indian food is the same. However, Chef is trying to make people aware of the regionality of Indian cuisine. So, Ushna celebrates that diversity as well as the subtleties in variations which occur sometimes, as well as the more overt differences. It was in this context that I visited Ushna a few nights ago. 

My journey starts with one of the specially created cocktails from an extensive list - the Delhi 6; a mix of tequila, grapes, sour mix and the highlight, or the twist if you please, masala chaat powder lining the rim of the glass - the chaat powder a popular ingredient in cooking in Delhi. There is something surreal about this drink, a microcosm of how Ush…

Mint Leaf of London new menu - DIFC, Dubai

The last time I visited Mint Leaf of London in Dubai was during Ramadan when I tried out their Iftar menu in July 2014. It was the concept of the bar-lounge-restaurant that really made an impression, in addition to the food of course. You can read that review here:

On this ocassion, I was thrilled to be trying the new menu, just launched. At the end of a night that saw me driving back to Abu Dhabi at 22h30, I came up with a few reasons why this is an outstanding way to spend the evening. This says a lot if you consider the myriad of options in Dubai.

1. Still in love with the concept
When Mint Leaf opened, it generated a lot of buzz because of its concept. Granted, it was not ground breaking, but it was noteworthy because its centred around Indian cuisine. But more than that, it actually works. On this visit I saw people at the bar or in the lounge who were not there for dining, while I also witnessed people who transitioned from the bar to the dining area. This tell…