Page 40 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine VI

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international, to Emirati, and more besides. We’d heard a lot of good things
about them and we wanted to see what they were like. We weren’t sure if we
could get around to trying all of them, but we were certainly going to try our
But when we got to the hotel, we first took our time to have a look around the
extravagant surroundings. Because although it undoubtedly looks amazing from
the outside, you can’t fully appreciate the Emirates Palace until you go in. There
may be a lot of impressive hotels around but the interior here is exceptional. To
stand in the marble atrium and look up to the exquisitely decorated ceiling is an
extraordinary experience. The building has a deep sense of proportion and
history. It’s soothing and inspiring just to be here.
Beautifully simple
We could have stayed there all day, but there was work to be done! Once we’d
settled in we decided that for our first evening here we would dine at Mezzaluna,
on the ground floor. Mezzaluna means ‘half-moon’ in Italian – so you won’t be
surprised to learn that the food here is from that country. The decorations here
are very tasteful – there are some lovely Venetian murals, motifs, and scenes of
Venice. In fact, we felt we’d stepped into a different country rather than a
restaurant! Italian food is all about the ingredients – gorgeous fresh vegetables,
pastas, and meat lovingly crafted into beautifully simple dishes. And that’s what
we encountered here.
In this restaurant it’s all about the details, about not sparing on anything: it’s
about simple things done brilliantly well. When the bread they serve is this good,
for example, you have to be careful not to eat so much that you spoil your
appetite! We had some juicy olives as an appetiser, and after these I chose to go
for a tender vegetable stew (very healthy!), while Jordana opted for pumpkin
ravioli. In both dishes, the combination of flavours and depth of texture was
just superb. We had sorbets and a rich espresso to round off the meal. A truly
exceptional experience, but I haven’t yet mentioned one of the best things - the
service. Our waiter was incredibly friendly and attentive, happy to help with
any query, and with a great sense of humour that immediately put you at ease.
Again, it’s the little things like that that make you realise you’ve come to a great
place, where people really want you to enjoy yourself and make the most of
your stay.
The very best ingredients from across the world
So, what can follow that? Our meal had been as good as we were expecting, but
I have to confess that I was really looking forward to our next stop on our dining
tour: the fish restaurant Sayad. It’s one of the most talked-about restaurants in
Abu Dhabi, and no wonder: it’s run by Shaun Anthony, who’s a three-star
Michelin-trained chef with 14 years of international experience. Anthony has
worked in some of the most highly-rated restaurants across the world: in
Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East. Three Michelin stars! Getting one
is hard enough, but we were in a place where being very good is simply not
good enough: the standards are so high that only the exceptional will do.
The first thing you notice at Sayad is that the decor is really striking: it’s all cool
turquoise and pristine white, evoking the vibrant colours of the Arabian Gulf,
and with some fun fish tanks around too, it sets the tone for a place which is all
about - you guessed it - fish. And just in case you didn’t twig what they specialise
in here, you should know that ‘Sayad’ is Arabic for ‘fisherman’. I’d deliberately
not had any fish the previous day – even though Mezzaluna’s dishes looked
mouthwatering – because I thought that this is the place to eat it.
And we certainly weren’t disappointed. I ordered the house special, the Emirates
Black Cod. Demonstrating that the restaurant will go to the farthest-flung places
in order to source the very best ingredients, the fish is caught on the shores of
Alaska and flash-frozen to preserve its freshness. When you have an ingredient
of this quality, you want to do as little as possible to it. The cod is simply poached
‘sous-vide’ for a short while with a touch of clarified butter, and then served
with some vegetable accompaniments (artichokes, fondant potatoes, and
cauliflower) as well as almond soil, buerre noisette powder, and sorbet. And
Sayad – Poached Black Cod, shades of
cauliflower,almond soil, brown butter
Mateo Ragongan dressing a dessert - Mezzaluna Restaurant
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