A visit to the Abu Dhabi Riviera

It was a Tuesday night and somehow we found ourselves staying at the Shangri-la in Abu Dhabi.  The hotel is located in the Qaryat Al Beri area which is a big waterfront development in the capital.   The nearby souk has a number of food and beverage outlets with alfresco dining terraces that overlook the water.  When we asked people where we should have dinner, the advice came back over and over again – Bord Eau, the French fine dining restaurant at the hotel.   This restaurant is often mentioned at the top of the list of Abu Dhabi restaurants so we decided to see if the hype was warranted.

We made reservations through the concierge desk and arrived shortly thereafter.  While we were warmly greeted it seems that they did not have our reservation.  A few minutes of confusion ensued until we were seated at the predictably half empty (or half full depending on your perspective) restaurant.   However, things immediately turned around for us as we were offered complimentary glasses of champagne to start our evening.

The décor is classic French European with high ceilings, grand lighting and big windows overlooking the strait that separates Abu Dhabi Island from the mainland.  All of this lends itself well to the “romantic” atmosphere that they are trying to create.  The outdoor terrace overlooking the canal is also lovely and allows for smoking.  The only minor complaint about the indoor space is that it’s somewhat cavernous and the music of choice that evening seemed incongruous with the mood and so low that we felt we had to whisper.

The menu – like the space – is classically French but with a contemporary touch that does not disappoint.  We decided on King Crab two-ways and Scallop Ravioli for starters and a duo of meat (Angus beef fillet and T-Bone) as a main that is intended for sharing.  As it turned out, the t-bone part of our main was not available so we settled for two Angus fillets but in true professional fashion the chef presented us with a second course of grilled octopus to ease our disappointment.

The king crab was extremely fresh but needed the acidity of the accompanying avocado lime mouse to bring out its flavour.  The scallop ravioli was divine and could easily have been served as a main at the best Italian restaurants.  Our complimentary course of octopus was flawlessly cooked to give it that tenderness that most kitchens are unable to achieve.  The fillets were similarly well prepared and served with a piece of perfectly seared foie gras though our side dishes of green beans and spinach were unnecessary and frankly uninspired.

Bord Eau lived up to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi. The service was attentive without being overbearing, the food was a very high standard and the ambience was pleasing for an intimate dinner à deux.  If you find yourself in Abu Dhabi and looking for a refined dinner we recommend Bord Eau.

King Crab – 96 dhs
Scallop Ravioli – 92 dhs
Angus Beef x2 – 376 dhs
Green Beans – 20 dhs
Spinach – 20 dhs

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