Abu Dhabi has no shortage of excellent restaurants, although if we had to pick faults we would suggest a shortage of steakhouses. Luckily, for the residents and visitors of the capital, award-winning celebrity Chef Marco Pierre White has brought his culinary expertise to the region in the form of a ‘dining destination’ located in the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi.
The contemporary Fairmont Bab Al Bahr is known for its wealth of excellent food & beverage outlets, from neighbouring Frankie’s Italian to the authentic Cedar Lounge and the ground floor Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill is in good company.
Descending down the feature staircase that takes centre stage at the hotel, the restaurant is nestled into the promenade which houses the majority of the outlets here. Greeted by a stark wood exterior, you’re transported into a sophisticated, moody interior that boasts dramatic interior design. With the restaurant cleverly divided down the middle to make the use of what is a relatively small space, we were seated in front of a black lit ‘flame’ wall that dances and twirls throughout your dining experience, providing a warm backdrop reminiscent of a European city. This location – so we’re told – is the preferred seating position of the restaurant’s regulars, loved for its intimate, romantic feel that seduces diners into the experience. This is not your ordinary steakhouse.
The menu is extensive with signature dishes from other Marco Pierre White restaurants across the world featuring heavily as well as some exclusives. Described as an eclectic combination of innovative grill cuisine and classic English fare, you won’t find it hard to find something you’d enjoy on this menu. Choosing just one dish however, might prove slightly trickier.
Starters range from fresh seafood specials such as the signature crispy soft shell crab (which is easily enough for two people) and the succulent grilled scallops with a fragrant smoked haddock and cauliflower puree, to meaty delights such as the Seared Foie Gras on toasted brioche decorated with a homemade granola and the signature Bone Marrow served with a side of Ciabatta. There is also a selection of Oysters and Yasa Caviar for those with more refined, expensive palettes.
As good as the starter menu is, it’s the main courses that really see this steakhouse come alive. As you’d expect from the name, the focus is on meat, meat and a little more meat. Although dishes such as Asparagus Risotto cater for vegetarians and Beer BBQ Chicken caters for those that desire more pub-grub than fine-dining, it would almost be foolish to visit this restaurant without sampling a big, grilled steak.
With Masterkobe, Wagyu, certified Angus Beef and Prime Beef USA making us the majority of the grill section, diners will be overwhelmed with choice. Luckily, expert staff are on hand to offer recommendations. Opting for a flavoursome, lean Wagyu 200g Tenderloin, my dining partner decided that the 250g striploin Masterkobe was more his steak of choice. All steaks are served with signature triple cooked chips – the perfect contrast between crispy and fluffy potato – and a choice of sauce. From Foie Gras butter and stilton fondue to the more traditional Bernaise and Green Pepper, we advise you ask for a small selection to really set your taste buds alight with flavor. As well as the accompanying triple cooked chips, we dressed our mains with truffle mashed potato (we are somewhat connoisseurs in this area), potato dauphinois and some poached asparagus to balance out the carbs. We did however, experience serious FOMO at the sight of a neighbouring tables giant onion rings. Next time.
The desert menu is small but perfectly formed and if you can still squeeze in a sweet treat the sticky toffee pudding is still being spoken about in our office some two weeks later.
Now, we cannot visit to Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill without mentioning the drinks menu, which is just as impressive as the food itself. The restaurant is honoured with a 2015 Wine Spectator Award for having one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world, and as people who experienced a large proportion of the menu, we can safely commend this deserved award.
From starting your evening with a glass of sparkling Prosecco Edizione Oro Valdo or Laurent-Perrier champagne if you’re feeling flash to a full-bodied glass of Malbec 2011 Catena with its powerful ripe fruity palette to complement your beef, this is a restaurant that focuses heavily on its wine menu.
Something that we need to give the appropriate amount of attention is the Gin & Tonic trolley. As exactly as the name suggests, this is a trolley of gin & tonic recipes that are mixed table side. Fabulously fun, the expert mixologist adds a theatrical element to your evening with the inventive use of ingredients to concoct such delicious gin & tonic infusions – the strawberry version was our favourite!
This restaurant is so much more than a regular steakhouse, it’s occasion dining at its best. From the focal fireplace that crackles away as you eat to the delicious food courtesy of the Chef de Cuisine, this is a restaurant that sets itself exceptionally exacting standards and exceeds them day in and day out. Well worth a visit if you’re in Abu Dhabi.
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