Steakhouse Review of Abu Dhabi, 2017

It has been a monumental undertaking and even then there are still steakhouses that have not been covered. Having said that, I believe there are only two not covered by this round up that would warrant interest. We really are quite lucky that in a small market like Abu Dhabi, we have an array of excellent steakhouses. Like last time, steakhouses will be ranked alphabetically, culminating in my picking the top 5 steakhouses in the city. I have also done another thing not done before - Included in my round up is a concept which involves buying steak from a premium butchery, picking up some wine and having a steak dinner at home. The round up, I believe, offers something for everyone, with me having included a dry steakhouse housed in a mall. Note that two other popular steakhouses, Nusr-Et on Maryah Island and The Forge at The Ritz Carlton have not been included in here but I hope to include them in my next Steakhouse Review. 

Blue Grill


The buzz words here are variety and affordability, with 17 cuts available 
to choose from. It is very accessible in terms of price, with a New Zealand grass fed ribeye starting at 140AED. This variety is extended to the wine, where they offer around 25 by the glass options. It means your evening needed not be overly expensive, with wines starting around 40AED per glass. Blue Grill has a very relaxed atmosphere and is a;so very family friendly.






Wow factor - it has to be the variety of cuts and by the glass wines. Even if you choose a bottle of wine, you will find the best priced wines here, with my recommendations being the Kanonkop 2015 Pinotage or anything high end from South Africa.
Must try -Definitely the  Pan seared foie gras - I described it as  'probably the second best foie gras dish I have had in the city. It asks questions of the brain thanks to being accompanied by beautifully textured granola'. Also, have the the Tomahawk, at 1000g it is a  huge piece of meat and at 290AED it seems foolish not to try it. 
Budget - tremendous value for money. You could get away with a 3 course dinner for 500AED excl drinks. 

The Essentials

Blue Grill,

Yas Rotana,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 6564000
email: fb.yasisland@rotana.com



BOA Steakhouse

BOA Steakhouse has long been a favourite of mine. As non-descript as the bar/lounge is, it is always a great way to start the evening with a glass of something. The character may have changed somewhat over the last year, but the menu remains the reason you go to this steakhouse. Their Table side classic Caesar  is an institution and has been copied by a couple other restaurants. Furthermore, their menu features several dishes you will not have at any other steakhouse in the city. Finally, if their a la carte menu is too expensive for you, definitely try the brunch - one of the ten best in Abu Dhabi. 






Wow factor - In cooler months, the terrace cannot be beaten and is highly recommended. 

Must try - the Goat cheese baklava has remained on the menu since the restaurant opened 4 years ago. It has all these opposites in texture and flavours, and one dish ina . steakhouse with a bit of a Middle Eastern touch that actually works. Also, the Halibut carpaccio is sensational. Thirdly, dry aged Black Angus grass fed beef is a signature staple at BOA Steakhouse, but I would recommend the Australian Mayura Wagyu beef striploin with a marbling of 9+. Priced at 345AED, it is of the best value Grade 9+ options in the city, considering the full size. 

Budget - It can be expensive, but with entry level steaks, you can get away with 700AED for 2 excl drinks. 

BOA Steakhouse
Eastern Mangroves Promenade
http://www.boaabudhabi.ae/
+971 2 641 1500

Capital Grill

This steakhouse at Dusit Thani in Abu Dhabi surprised all when it walked away with What's On's Steakhouse of the Year 2017 award. The menu is succinct, with about 11 cuts of beef from which to choose.This venue offers great value for money with entry level steaks starting around 160AED. It is not inconceivable to have a main and a glass of wine for 200AED. Capital Grill combines sensible pricing with an intimate venue, with seating not more than about 60-70. Service is warm and personable - make sure you have a chat with the manager during your dining. he has the right idea of how to connect with his guests. 






Wow - A 2012 Meerlust Merlot for 390AED is just wow. 
Must try - Roasted pumpkin soup, it is hard not to love that burned pumpkin flavour.  For a splurge, have the Master Kobe Grade 9, but please make sure it is at least medium rare.
Budget - 500AED for 2 without drinks


The Capital Grill,
Dusit Thani Hotel,
Abu Dhabi

Capital Grill
+971 2 698 8888

Dining on a  budget
3 Kelly Oysters 45AED
Australian striploin 120 days grain fed 145AED
Glass of wine 35AED

Splurging
Salmon Duo 65AED
Master Kobe Tenderloin grade 9 MB 595AED
2012 Meerlust Merlot 390AED



Chamas Churrascaria & Bar

Everyone loves Chamas. While not purely a steakhouse, it does offer a lot of beef, churrascaria style. With about 16 different kinds of cuts brought to your table, I love that one cut can usually cater for all temperatures, something not easily done. They also offer drinks packages, with incredible choices, from house beverages to champagne., all offering great value. Vegetarians stay away for while there are salads, this place is for meat lovers. 








Wow factor - Definitely the heart and soul of Chamas, Cuban band  Los Hidalgos have been playing there for a couple years now and it is very hard to imagine Chamas without them. Classy, joyful and entertaining. There is something delightful about having such variety of  beef cuts while listening to Latino tunes by  a genuinely professional act. 
Must try - everything!
Budget - 249AED-519AED++ Tremendous value.

The Essentials
Chamas Churrascaria & BarIntercontinental Hotel, Abu DhabiChamas+971 2 666 6888


Entrecote Cafe de Paris


This is a firm favourite of mine. Located in the Souk at Qarayt al Beri, next to Shangri -la Hotel, this restaurant has been the mark of consistency since it opened about 7 years ago. It is unique among all the steakhouses in that it has a set menu - salad, main and dessert. There is variation in the main you can have with three choices of beef usually available. Similarly, you can choose from a dessert menu for your final course.  This is one of those hole in the wall experiences you cannot really have in the city. Finally, there is an undeniable charm to this venue which is based on the original which opened in Switzerland many moons ago. 








Wow factor - it is so unknown and stands alone, not part of a hotel. There is a something quaint and endearing about this little restaurant that you simply must experience. 
Must try - there is no great variety on the menu, so go with any of the three beef options - the New Zealand grass fed beef offers the best value. But for dessert, have the Chocolate fondant, still the best I have had in Abu Dhabi. 
Budget - 550AED for 2 excl drinks

The Essentials

Entrecote Café de Paris,
Souk Qaryat Al Beri,
Abu dhabi
+971 2 5576508


The Foundry

A steakhouse very dear to my heart. When many people were confused when this then-little  known restaurant walked away with the first of several awards, I had a moment of vanity knowing I had seen it coming. A former multiple award winner of Best Steakhouse titles, it remains highly recommended. The Foundry is proof that to be among the best, you do not have to be the biggest.  Housed in Southern Sun Hotel in the Mena area, it is big on well plated dishes, inventive menu items and service that is honest, warm and sincere. Creativity extends to their Thursday evening concept with unlimited steaks as well as one of the nicer Friday brunches around. 








Wow factor - it still amazes me that this is an all day dining restaurant in the day time. To get the full effect, go for breakfast and then try some steak at night. 
A must try - Yasa caviar beautifully presented on ice, for that feeling of luxury but at an affordable price I also recommend, if you are slightly daring, the Beef carpaccio with sweetbreads - an unusual treat, the latter. Then, continuing the splurge, skip the entry level Karan beef and have the Australian Blackmore Grade 9 which, for 300g, is the cheapest in the city. 
Budget - anywhere from 500AED for 2. 

The Essentials

The Foundry, 
Southern Sun Hotel, 
Abu Dhabi  
The Foundry
+971 2 8184888

The Grill

They insist on calling this a grill over at Marriott Al Forsan, but I am calling it a steakhouse! Yes, it is well lit and family friendly, but every Jane, John and Ali will call it a steakhouse. It is expansive with a well appointed open kitchen. The Grill is incredibly affordable while the feel of quality is clearly visible. A look at the menu will show that quality is not compromised. The Grill is simply challenging the prevailing trend of expensive beef. The same can be said of the wine list. Where else can you get a bottle of wine for 120AED? Even their high end wines are great value. 
 




Wow - the wow is also a must try item. The Bone-in-ribeye tomahawk is a monster. At 1.2kg, it is good for a family of 4 which is noteworthy in its own right but when the bill is under 500AED, that is where I go 'Wow!' again. Watching Chef de Cuisine Aytekin Ergun carve it tableside and present it is theatre of the highest order. But there is nothing flamboyant or showy about the way he does it - he allows the attention to stay on the meat he has prepared. Because you are making such a saving on your meal, the 2012 Meerlust Rubicon, one of my top 2 wines, is worth the relative splurge. 
Budget - 400AED for 2 excl drinks. There is a 90AED entry level Hanger steak. 


The Essentials             

The Grill
Marriott Hotel Al Forsan,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 201 400

Home Cooking


People gawk at the prices charged for a steak when they visit a steakhouse for the first time. So did I. In places like Japan, you can pick up nicely marbled beef for a fraction of what it costs here. A small fraction! The same can be said of wine. I habitually tell friends that my favourite wine, De Toren V is available in South Africa for about 100AED. At a hotel in Abu Dhabi? 850AED! Thus was born the idea of doing an article on stopping by a butchery and alcohol dealer and having a  steak evening at home. Of course the luxurious setting of the penthouse suite at the recently refurbished Al Maha Arjaan made for an extra beautiful evening, but the principle is the same - cooking at home. 









Wow factor - you get to impress your friends with great beef and wine while paying significantly less than that a restaurant. An evening that included a 3 courses and 10 bottles of wine, at cost came to 270AED per person. If we had the same evening at a  steakhouse, the cost would have been around 800AED per person. 
Budget - Two cuts  of ribeye from La Carne butchery, a bottle of quality red from Gray Mackenzie & Partners and groceries from Fulfilme.com 300AED for 2. 

The Essentials             



The Meat Co.


There is much appeal in stand-alone steakhouse. The Meat Co, the South African steakhouse is housed one of a handful steakhouses in my round up that is not part of a hotel. The menu is expansive here, with some of the most expensive steaks in the city. The menu also boasts the widest selection of beef cuts and bragging rights once again belongs to The Meat Co. for being the only steakhouse to offer Japanese beef as part of its regular menu, with Japanese Ohmi Wagyu and Hokkaido Crossbred Wagyu among the priciest in the city, but if you love that buttery feel of highly marbled beef, it will be worth it.






Wow factor - there are only two restaurants  worth celebrating your birthday and this is one of them. Allow warm African hospitality to create a really special evening with song and drums. Of course, this is a meat place, so having Japanese beef on your plate in Abu Dhabi must rank as an incredible wow. 
Must try - There is a South African flavour in places on the menu. Nothing is more South African than the Boerewors sausage - served with a South african classic, pap and tomato gravy. Also try any of the two Japanese beef items on the menu - it will be unforgettable. 
Budget - 700AED for two excl drinks. 

The Meat Co.
The Souk at Qaryat Al Beri between the bridges,
Abu Dhabi

The Meat Co
+971 2 558 1713

Park Bar & Grill

The Park Bar & Grill has experienced a bit of a renaissance in the last year or so with the culinary team really upping the ante on all fronts. The team seems to be clear now on what they want the restaurant to be, in terms of an identity. The restaurant offers a very strong surf and turf menu, adept at doing either one really well. Like  a few other steakhouses here, there are some strong romantic elements, not least of all the positioning of certain tables to create that intimate dining experience. I am excited about the culinary team that has been in place for a short while now. This restaurant is one to watch in the next year. 





Wow - the location. The Park Hyatt is one of the most underappreciated hotels from an aesthetic point of view. Its understated elegance and earthiness fills one with a sense of tranquility as one walks into the lobby. Secondly, the display of seafood as one walks into the restaurant fills one with a sense that this is more than a steakhouse. 
Must try - Lobster ravioli. Even better, have the Grilled Canadian lobster tail which gives you lobster done 3 ways, including a bit of lobster ravioli. Also, the house champagne, Billecart-Salmon NV Brut - one of the two best house champagnes in the city. 
Budget - expect to pay around 600AED. The Tenderloin bone-in  at 450g sells for 200AED!

The Essentials

The Park Bar & Grill, 
Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas
Abu Dhabi

Park Bar & Grill
+971 2 407 1234


Rodeo Grill

While steakhouses are traditionally manly, Rodeo Grill takes it to the nth degree. The seats really make you feel you are in a steakhouse. Luxury is, as is the case with a  few other steakshgisues in the city, what greets you as you walk in. In terms of adding value to the guest's experience, there is a cabinet with personalised steak knives of regular guests - nothing unique in that this happens at one or two other restaurants, but what is cool about it is that it is on display. Secondly, the meat master is something you will find only here - different cuts of meat are brought to your table and explained. 






Wow factor - definitely the meat master coming around and introducing the cuts. Also, the feeling of luxury is an under stated one. 
Must try - the Sea scallops with veal bacon, peas and pear would be a great way to start your dinner. For your main, the Ranger Valleys  450 days grain fed wagyu is one of the best value steaks on the menu with a marbling of of 9+ and selling for under 400AED. Finally, the biggest selection of by-the-glass wines and like Blue Grill, offers high end wines at a lower price than all other steakhouses. 
Budget - 800AED for 2 excl drinks.


Essentials

Rodeo Grill,
Beach Rotana,

Abu Dhabi
Rodeo Grill
+971 2  697 9000


Stratos Revolving Lounge Bar & Grill


This has to be the most under valued steakhouse in the city. Stratos has  a really good menu and has shed its title as most expensive steakhouse in the city, unfairly given to it when it launched. It has nonetheless become more accessible. It is a very low lit restaurant, something that you will either love or hate. But it is that low light that creates the ambience. Don't expect any jazz - resident DJ Lola Nova mixes things up. You will find more John Stone Irish beef options here than anywhere else in the capital, but don't worry, you can also get grain fed beef. On a final note, a new Executive Chef has just joined the hotel and I predict this place will come back even stronger with its new menu and possibly concept. 





Wow factor - need I say it? A revolving restaurant is always going to have a wow appeal. The city lights at night  are, to use a cliche, just so pretty. Start your dinner at 8 and you will be able to go around twice. 
Must try - Loch fyne oysters, not common in the city, at 120AED for a dozen. This is a no brainer. If like me you want your beef with high marbling, the Master Kobe Ladies cut goes for 325AED, an offer that cannot be beaten. 
Budget - 700AED for 2 excl drinks

Essentials
Stratos Revolving Lounge Bar & Grill

Le Royal Meridien, Khalifa Street,
Abu Dhabi 

Stratos
+971 2 674 2020

Texas de Brazil


Who can resist a concept that was brought to Abu Dhabi by Chamas a few years ago and is now a home in the city's largest mall, Yas Mall. It is family friendly and with it being unlicenced (no alcohol), you are likely to see a whole new demographic of restaurant guest. Service is hectic and they get through a  ton of meat. Make sure to watch the Passadores as they get the meat ready. Finally, the salad bar has a dedicated waitress who ensures it stays refreshed. Overall, it is super fun and an inexpensive way to treat the entire family to a night out for meat, meat and more meat. 






Wow factor - how many times have you seen a 235-seat restaurant packed in Abu Dhabi? Go on a Thursday  and Friday night and see the lines of people. Also, at 165AED on weekend, this is superb value for a Churrascaria
Must try - the Filet Mignon and  Braised Beef Ribs. Also, try the funky cool drinks. 
Budget - 330AED for 2 excl drinks.


Essentials

Texas de Brazil,
Yas Mall,
Yas Island,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 563 1424


Here are my Top 5 steakhouses for 2017

5. 55 & 5th, The Grill

Simply the most exquisite steakhouse in the city. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful restaurants, period. The sense of tasteful luxury and elegance is inescapable. While regarded as an occasion restaurant in the past, it has shed that label and is more accessible now. So, while this would be my pick for treating your partner to a dinner to have a celebration, it is now more than that. You will not find dishes more beautifully plated than at this steakhouse. If you deem the fine setting intimidating, the terrace is much more relaxed, but be assured of the same high end experience. 





Wow factor - other than the aesthetic appeal of the restaurant, they offer one of the best wine service, with a tradition of pairing wines with dishes. Simply leave the restaurant to do the pairing for, regardless of your budget. 
Must try - The Foie gras mille feuille. While foie gras is a staple at a  steakhouse, the combinations here are to die for - pear panna cotta, Port wine and poached pear. For your main course, look to the Tajima Australian wagyu tenderloin , with a marbling of 7-8 and sold per 150g. At 280AED for 150g, highly recommended. If like me, you need more firmness in your beef, try the John Stone Dry aged ribeye, grass fed for 28 days. 
Budget - 3 courses excl drinks for 2 people about 800AED

The Essentials 

55&5th, The Grill
St Regis Saadiyat Island,
Abu Dhabi
55&5th
+971 2 498 8888
4. Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill


Luxury. That is the feeling one will have when visiting this restaurant. It is an intimate restaurant with no more than about 60 guests. Through clever use of space the restaurant feels even cosier. There is no terrace. Also, lightning plays a significant role in the restaurant's ambience. Luxury is conveyed with the amuse bouche - a Kelly oyster flanked by three blinis with Ysa caviar. A restaurant manager is worth 5 guests a night I say and MPW has for a long time had a tradition of excellent managers - this continues with their latest manager. Finally, MPW has the best wine list of all the steakhouses, something that has long been acknowledged by The Spectator. 






Wow - being in a celebrity chef branded restaurant that has actually made it in Abu Dhabi. I have seen quite a few come and go, but this one has remained. It is fine and worthy of that special occasion. 
Must try - The Soft shell crab is a highlight. It is what you call a classic on the menu and no matter what else changes, this remains. Also, their Oysters are well thought out as is the presentation. I recommended 1/2 dozen Kelly oysters served naturally. As far as beef dishes go, there is alot of choice. Finally, the MPW Sticky toffee pudding is legendary. 
Budget -  Conservatively, budget around 800AED for 2 without drinks. 


The Essentials

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill
Fairmont Bab Al Bahr,
Abu Dhabi
MarcoPierreWhite
+ 971 2 654 3333 


3. Ray's Grill

What a gorgeous setting for this steakhouse, on the 63rd floor of the opulent Jumeirah owned property, offering 360 degree views the city. It is very child friendly without being a kids' restaurant, if you know what I mean. You will find the second largest selection of beef choice in terms of cut and size, with great value steaks too - the entry marbled beef of 6-7 starts at 125AED! It affords them flexibility of changing the menu and introducing Chef's specials periodically. While Coravin wine technology is not unique to them, they certainly offer some of the most memorable labels. Added value items like a beverage trolley that includes champagne and a fantastic salt and mustard service. 







Wow factor - the widest range of champagne by the glass, anywhere in the city. There is something about having a glass of bubbly at night with the view from up here. On the beef side, you will find beef from the USA, France, Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. 
Must try - A glass of bubbly in the highest restaurant in the city at the bar. Follow this up with  a choice of several dishes that you will not find anywhere else in a steakhouse in the city. Finally, go for a selection of Ray's top cuts consisting of three different cuts at 225AED - perfect for those wanting to explore the different flavours and qualities of beef. 
Budget - 600AED for 2

The Essentials
Ray's Grill,
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Abu Dhabi

Ray's Grill
+971 2 81115666


2. Butcher & Still

No other steakhouse listed here is as popular with locals as Butcher & Still. Larger than life Chef de Cuisine Marshall is charismatic and areal people person. There is a magnetism about him that endears him to guests. It is one of few steakhouses with a well thought out concept that runs throughout the restaurant - 1920s Chicago. It is a real experience. There are very few restaurants where as expats we can dine with locals - you will finf expats outnumbered more often than not. Finally, a very high staff to guest ratio speaks volumes of the emphasis that is placed on service here. 






Wow factor - many, but it starts at the bar. Super slick and charismatic bartenders who express themselves while serving free flowing water of your choice - the only bar that serves water free of charge. The hotel sommelier hangs around mostly at this venue; there are not many steakhouses in the city with a sommelier in the restaurant.
Must try - The Oysters Rockefeller. While not exclusive to them, it is superb. Then,  The Porterhouse is definitely one to get if you are two. Finally, anything on your table that brings Chef Marshall out to you. He is a genuinely nice chef. 
Budget -  800AED for 2 excluding drinks. 

The Essentials

Butcher & Still 
Four Seasons Hotel,
Al Maryah Island,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 3332600


1. JW Steakhouse


My pick as the best steakhouse in the city. This is a steakhouse that started off very slowly with no distinct identity and was riddled instead with cliches. I wrote after my first visit: On the other hand, as a restaurant offering a 'contemporary take on a classic American steakhouse', I want to see more pizzaz, for want of a better word - it is the x-factor I mentioned in my opening remarks. It does everything solidly, but I need a stronger identity especially if you look at the competition. 



How it has grown. The restaurant is very intimate and I could say small by steakhouse standards. It is a comfortable 'small', though. The team that looks after guests is one of the lightest you will find in the city,  but is a team that works very well, in the open kitchen supporting Chef Stephan and on the floor supporting the restaurant manager. 1960's-1970's soul music sets the tone while the Bourbon Trolley moves around. The a la carte menu is quite succinct, with Northern Irish and Canadian Angus beef unusual items. But the experience at JW is so much more than the individual parts. 




The idea of a chef coming out to a guest's table is nothing new. But at JW, Chef de Cuisine Stephan Benkendorff elevates the simple things ingredients potato and leek. It is really smart. It is also during his Tasting menu that he creates an experience that you are likely to remember for a very long time. Creativity. So many chefs have this but are often not given a platform to show it. Chef Stephan is allowed, through his Tasting menu, to wow the guest. I have never been as excited about a Tasting concept as his. Technology, Drink pairings that challenge ideas we have of pairings and dishes that confound the senses - that is just part of this surreal experience.  










Wow factor - watching Chef Stephan take those simple ingredients and get you excited about once again appreciate the non-descript details in life. It would have been easy for him to poetically slice beef in front of the guest, but beef should speak for itself. The lowly potato, for example, needs a voice. Of course, the Tasting menu is just something you have to experience to believe my hype. Finally, how does one say this without sounding patronising, but I love that idea of a woman running  steakhouse. Peppiina Pentti,a Finnish native, brings a gentle but uncompromising attitude to her staff. 
Must try - the Tsarskaya oyster as part of your amuse bouche; you will resent it for being only an amuse bouche! Then, start with the Heirloom tomato and burrata that showcases the subtle variations of tomato. Next,  for your main try the Northern Irish beef. Finally, end the evening with the best cheesecake in the city. Of course, you have to try the Tasting menu first!
Budget - A la carte 700AED for 2 people excl drinks. 8 course Tasting menu 700AED for 2 as well. 

The Essentials

JW Steakhouse
Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi
JW
+971 304 7777




Brandon Stoltenkamp
https://instagram.com/bmstoltenkamp/

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