So working for Time Out as a food critic, beauty editor and shopping writer has given me a certain know-how and people often ask me for advice or my favourite of things. So I’m listing them here for future reference. I’ll start with my favourite F&B places.
My favourite cafe – it’s a tie between Nolu’s at Al Bandar and Leopold’s of London on Reem Island. Both have overwhelmingly good home-style food that is creative and delicious. (and they both make a mean coffee though Leopold’s slightly outdoes Nolu’s on the coffee front). Also win awards for my favourite breakfast places. Highly commended – Cafe Armani and Jones – both affordable and delicious too, just not quite as creative.
My favourite brunch – again, a tie. Between Ritz-Carlton and Nahaam at Jumeirah. You see, these oh-so-chic brunches are of epic proportions, beautiful and stylish with fantastic food. Nahaam has around 15 live-cooking stations and the food is consistently good, Ritz has a HUGE brunch that you need a map to navigate, and the fact that the entire of Dolce is the dessert section…well need I say more? NB – for an easy-going Friday afternoon, I love the PJ’s picnic brunch at Le Royal Meridien. It’s Dhs150, chilled out and the awesome band plays outdoors. The food sucks for the most part, but for Dhs150, I don’t care (150 including unlimited booze).
My favourite place I can’t afford – Oh Zuma, you expensive slice of heaven. I’m a qualified journalist and I can’t find the words to do this place justice. You just, you just have to go to understand and DO NOT bypass the Dhs250 dessert platter. Even if you just go for the dessert platter – it’s worth it. It’s Japanese like you’ve never had. It’s quality, in a swanky place and the food is just too good.
My favourite Indian – After visiting India, I can’t bring myself to pay too much for Indian food. I know how cheap it can be so I won’t explore the high-end Indians because you know what? Tandoori Corner on Airport Road can do better. This cheap and cheerful little joint does some of the best curries this side of the subcontinent, plus you’ll only pay around Dhs80 for two people and several courses. Do yourself a favour – and try it.
My favourite Middle Eastern – I only recently discovered this one, but Atayeb at the Yas Viceroy. The food, usually consistently crap at this hotel, is AMAZING. I guess it helps that they have legitimate Middle Eastern chefs in the kitchen, the food tastes homely and hearty and wins over even the most cynical of diners.
My favourite South East Asian – Cho Gao. Without a doubt. It’s a classic on the Abu Dhabi foodie-trail and it’s not going anywhere. The decor is funky, the food is delicious and the service is good (and the prices are reasonable). I like this one for a celebration too.
My favourite pub – Ah controversial, but I can’t go past Heroes. You know why? This smokey dungeon is a black hole – the staff are cool, it’s always busy and the main point – the band is phenomenal. Seriously – International Playboys are the best cover band in the city. Second choice would be either PJ’s or Stills – both have a fun ambiance and beautiful outdoor areas. PJ’s service sucks though – luckily the band, Sweet Chilli Jam also kick ass.
My favourite club – well, I will need to get back to you on this one because I haven’t been to Burlesque yet and People by Crystal is hosting some seriously cool acts soon – but for now, it’s O1NE on Yas. It’s ultra-cool – the 3D imaging, the lit bars and the artistic exterior are so awesome. Pity the drinks are circa-Dhs70 each.
My favourite ladies’ night – Ah one of my favourite parts of living in Abu Dhabi – ladies’ nights. Iris does, by far, the best drinks, fruity cocktails yum yum. Proper ones with proper fruit in them. Stills on Thursdays is a classic I will never get tired of, I love the outdoor area and it’s a Thursday night which is always a plus. Speaking of Thursday night ladies’ nights – I’ve had a good few at Chameleon at the Fairmont too – the cocktails are delicious and there’s an amazing bartender/mixologist that is friendly and makes most of the drinks. The service is a little slow though because they are dishing out free cocktails. And finally, the worst drinks but most wild ladies’ night – The Yacht Club on Wednesdays. It’s a late one – and so much fun – the club fills to the brim by 1am, so get there early.
Hope I haven’t forgotten anything