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  • Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Stratos at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi is the only rotating restaurant in the UAE capitalWith so many restaurants opening in Abu Dhabi over the past year, it’s never been more important to stand out from the crowd. However, consumers are becoming more and more demanding, and they are starting to lose interest in the usual innovations, such as being associated with a celebrity chef, achieving Michelin-star status, or selecting an off-the-beat theme. So, what’s next?

    Although rotating restaurants are not a new concept, they have a fantastic track-record across the world, with famous examples in Los Vegas, Seattle, Tokyo and Cape Town, amongst others. The concept arrived in the UAE capital some time back with Al Fanar, a European restaurant located at the top of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. And following a major one-year revamp, it was re-launched with much fanfare in September 2014 under a brand new name, Stratos.

    Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliersEager to find out more, AroundTheUAE.com decided to visit the upscale lounge bar and grill for our latest review. As you might remember from our recent lunch at Amalfi – dubbed the best business lunch in Abu Dhabi (read the review here) - we’re already fans of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, so expectations were high!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After being seated at our table for dinner, we took a few minutes to admire the stylish décor. Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishing to create an ultra-luxurious setting, almost like the private members clubs that are popular with the rich and successful in Europe.

    Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishingOn the one side, dinners can watch the open kitchen as dishes from the menu are prepared under the watchful guidance of Executive Head Chef Justin Galea and Chef De Cuisine Grant Ballinger. However, the real highlight is the exquisite revolving view of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape on the opposite side of the restaurant.

    In total, it takes around an hour for the restaurant to complete its 360-degree rotation, with a variety of different settings to be enjoyed along the way, from downtown Abu Dhabi and the corniche, to Lulu Island and the Arabian Gulf. Apparently different speeds have been tested out and this was found to be the optimal for enjoying the views and avoiding the feeling of motion sickness.

    ALSO READ: IS INAKAYA THE MOST AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN ABU DHABI?

    The Strawberry Posset consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamicAnd let’s not forget about the food! Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliers. For starters, there are around seven options in the a la carte menu, and we tried a little bit of everything, from the yellow fin tuna and parmesan gnocchi, to the lobster mac and cheese. YUM!

    The mains are essentially a grill selection and if you’re not sure where the start, the helpful staff will be more than happy to provide guidance. Between us, we tried the John Stone Grass Fed Rib Eye with Green Peppercorn Sauce and the Wagyu Tenderloin with Stratos Original BBQ Sauce. These were accompanied by a delicious range of sides, including Paris Mash, Creamed Sweet Corn, Hand Cut Chips, and our personal favourite, the Slow Braised Carrots with Mandarin Oil.

    Stratos transforms into a trendy after-dark venue with various DJs playing music until the early hoursAbu Dhabi has some amazing grills, which still give Stratos a run for their money, but on the whole we were left feeling satisfied and extremely full. If fact, we almost passed on dessert (most unlike us!), but were eventually convinced to try the Strawberry Posset, which consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamic. We were informed this is lighter on the stomach and provides the perfect ending to a meal… we couldn’t agree more!

    All-in-all, we recommend a visit to Stratos for the unique 360-degree views it offers over Abu Dhabi. And even if you don’t fancy a dinner there, other options include a gourmet afternoon tea, a sunset during cocktail hour, and a trendy after-dark atmosphere with various DJs playing music until the early hours.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Stratos, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  6:43 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Stratos at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi is the only rotating restaurant in the UAE capitalWith so many restaurants opening in Abu Dhabi over the past year, it’s never been more important to stand out from the crowd. However, consumers are becoming more and more demanding, and they are starting to lose interest in the usual innovations, such as being associated with a celebrity chef, achieving Michelin-star status, or selecting an off-the-beat theme. So, what’s next?

    Although rotating restaurants are not a new concept, they have a fantastic track-record across the world, with famous examples in Los Vegas, Seattle, Tokyo and Cape Town, amongst others. The concept arrived in the UAE capital some time back with Al Fanar, a European restaurant located at the top of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. And following a major one-year revamp, it was re-launched with much fanfare in September 2014 under a brand new name, Stratos.

    Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliersEager to find out more, AroundTheUAE.com decided to visit the upscale lounge bar and grill for our latest review. As you might remember from our recent lunch at Amalfi – dubbed the best business lunch in Abu Dhabi (read the review here) - we’re already fans of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, so expectations were high!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After being seated at our table for dinner, we took a few minutes to admire the stylish décor. Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishing to create an ultra-luxurious setting, almost like the private members clubs that are popular with the rich and successful in Europe.

    Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishingOn the one side, dinners can watch the open kitchen as dishes from the menu are prepared under the watchful guidance of Executive Head Chef Justin Galea and Chef De Cuisine Grant Ballinger. However, the real highlight is the exquisite revolving view of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape on the opposite side of the restaurant.

    In total, it takes around an hour for the restaurant to complete its 360-degree rotation, with a variety of different settings to be enjoyed along the way, from downtown Abu Dhabi and the corniche, to Lulu Island and the Arabian Gulf. Apparently different speeds have been tested out and this was found to be the optimal for enjoying the views and avoiding the feeling of motion sickness.

    ALSO READ: IS INAKAYA THE MOST AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN ABU DHABI?

    The Strawberry Posset consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamicAnd let’s not forget about the food! Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliers. For starters, there are around seven options in the a la carte menu, and we tried a little bit of everything, from the yellow fin tuna and parmesan gnocchi, to the lobster mac and cheese. YUM!

    The mains are essentially a grill selection and if you’re not sure where the start, the helpful staff will be more than happy to provide guidance. Between us, we tried the John Stone Grass Fed Rib Eye with Green Peppercorn Sauce and the Wagyu Tenderloin with Stratos Original BBQ Sauce. These were accompanied by a delicious range of sides, including Paris Mash, Creamed Sweet Corn, Hand Cut Chips, and our personal favourite, the Slow Braised Carrots with Mandarin Oil.

    Stratos transforms into a trendy after-dark venue with various DJs playing music until the early hoursAbu Dhabi has some amazing grills, which still give Stratos a run for their money, but on the whole we were left feeling satisfied and extremely full. If fact, we almost passed on dessert (most unlike us!), but were eventually convinced to try the Strawberry Posset, which consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamic. We were informed this is lighter on the stomach and provides the perfect ending to a meal… we couldn’t agree more!

    All-in-all, we recommend a visit to Stratos for the unique 360-degree views it offers over Abu Dhabi. And even if you don’t fancy a dinner there, other options include a gourmet afternoon tea, a sunset during cocktail hour, and a trendy after-dark atmosphere with various DJs playing music until the early hours.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Inakaya is located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand CanalTrying a new restaurant can be a hit or miss experience, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. On the one hand, you might discover a hidden treasure, where the food, service and ambience not only meet your expectations, but exceed them.

    And on occasions, it’s the complete opposite, with a culinary journey so bad, you promise never to return. Luckily, our visit to Abu Dhabi’s recently opened Inakaya fit into the first category and we couldn’t be happier.

    Located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, the ‘Inakaya’ brand might ring a bell for some readers. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which opened its doors in the UAE less than two months ago, has been operating with much success in both New York and Tokyo for some time.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    It seems that loyal patrons in both cities were besotted with the authentic, theatrical Japanese dining experience on offer at Inakaya. But would that same offering work in Abu Dhabi? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes!

    AroundTheUAE.com was treated to a delicious selection from the menu, including the black cod filletAt the heart of Inakaya’s distinctive dining experience is ‘robatayaki’, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance for guests. Upon arrival, our group was welcomed by enthusiastic staff in kimono and happi coat-style uniforms. We instantly noticed that the décor has a traditional and homely feel, but at the same time, offers a modern, stylish and upscale setting.

    We were seated facing the yakikata (grill-masters), who chanted a Japanese welcome to us in perfect unison, which was somewhat overwhelming but actually a really nice touch. Between our seats and the yakikata was a display of fresh fish, vegetables and other produce, allowing guests to know exactly what they’re ordering. After selecting from the menu, the dishes are cooked by the yakikata and passed directly to customers on traditional 1.2 metre-long paddles.

    ALSO READ: WHY ABU DHABI'S NEW JONES THE GROCER IS WORTH A VISIT! READ OUR REVIEW!

    Inakaya is more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holidayThe team are led by Executive Chef Keneth Kim, who has 20 years of culinary experience in establishments such as Nobu in London, Sushico in Istanbul, and Honyaki in Dubai. We were treated to a delicious selection from the menu, from the tofu salad, miso soup and steamed vegetables for starters, and onto the black cod fillet and various chicken and meat dishes, all cooked to perfection.

    We thought the food was high on taste, without being too heavy on the stomach. In fact, we still had enough space to try the traditional ice cream, which proved a great way to end our extremely satisfying meal.

    Sanbon jime, a rhythmic clapping ‘thanking’ ceremony, offered an authentic and peaceful conclusion to the meal. If the timing is right, diners can participate in the mochi pounding ceremony – a New Year’s tradition that is a nightly occurrence at Inakaya.

    At the heart of Inakaya’s dining experience is robatayaki, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance
    The ceremony sees a lucky guest (yes, on this occasion it was us!) tasked with using a giant mortar-and-pestle to pound hot, cooked sticky rice into a delicious sweet rice cake; celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, have previously taken part in the tradition at Inakaya Tokyo.

    This highlights the fact that a trip to Inakaya offers more than the routine dining experience. It’s more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holiday. It’s a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene and we cannot wait to return in the future.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Inakaya, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  4:25 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Inakaya is located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand CanalTrying a new restaurant can be a hit or miss experience, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. On the one hand, you might discover a hidden treasure, where the food, service and ambience not only meet your expectations, but exceed them.

    And on occasions, it’s the complete opposite, with a culinary journey so bad, you promise never to return. Luckily, our visit to Abu Dhabi’s recently opened Inakaya fit into the first category and we couldn’t be happier.

    Located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, the ‘Inakaya’ brand might ring a bell for some readers. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which opened its doors in the UAE less than two months ago, has been operating with much success in both New York and Tokyo for some time.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    It seems that loyal patrons in both cities were besotted with the authentic, theatrical Japanese dining experience on offer at Inakaya. But would that same offering work in Abu Dhabi? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes!

    AroundTheUAE.com was treated to a delicious selection from the menu, including the black cod filletAt the heart of Inakaya’s distinctive dining experience is ‘robatayaki’, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance for guests. Upon arrival, our group was welcomed by enthusiastic staff in kimono and happi coat-style uniforms. We instantly noticed that the décor has a traditional and homely feel, but at the same time, offers a modern, stylish and upscale setting.

    We were seated facing the yakikata (grill-masters), who chanted a Japanese welcome to us in perfect unison, which was somewhat overwhelming but actually a really nice touch. Between our seats and the yakikata was a display of fresh fish, vegetables and other produce, allowing guests to know exactly what they’re ordering. After selecting from the menu, the dishes are cooked by the yakikata and passed directly to customers on traditional 1.2 metre-long paddles.

    ALSO READ: WHY ABU DHABI'S NEW JONES THE GROCER IS WORTH A VISIT! READ OUR REVIEW!

    Inakaya is more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holidayThe team are led by Executive Chef Keneth Kim, who has 20 years of culinary experience in establishments such as Nobu in London, Sushico in Istanbul, and Honyaki in Dubai. We were treated to a delicious selection from the menu, from the tofu salad, miso soup and steamed vegetables for starters, and onto the black cod fillet and various chicken and meat dishes, all cooked to perfection.

    We thought the food was high on taste, without being too heavy on the stomach. In fact, we still had enough space to try the traditional ice cream, which proved a great way to end our extremely satisfying meal.

    Sanbon jime, a rhythmic clapping ‘thanking’ ceremony, offered an authentic and peaceful conclusion to the meal. If the timing is right, diners can participate in the mochi pounding ceremony – a New Year’s tradition that is a nightly occurrence at Inakaya.

    At the heart of Inakaya’s dining experience is robatayaki, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance
    The ceremony sees a lucky guest (yes, on this occasion it was us!) tasked with using a giant mortar-and-pestle to pound hot, cooked sticky rice into a delicious sweet rice cake; celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, have previously taken part in the tradition at Inakaya Tokyo.

    This highlights the fact that a trip to Inakaya offers more than the routine dining experience. It’s more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holiday. It’s a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene and we cannot wait to return in the future.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai is located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown districtAfter a hectic couple of weeks, it was time for AroundTheUAE.com to arrange another much-needed staycation to relax, unwind and recharge our batteries. Our chosen venue for the weekend? The Ramada Downtown Dubai, located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown district, next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and other prized landmarks.

    The venue is fantastic – appealing to families on extended holidays, guests looking for a short getaway (like us) and business travellers attending conferences and exhibitions - and the term ‘room with a view’ couldn’t be more apt, but more about that later!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After battling through the local traffic and arriving at the four-star hotel, we made use of the complimentary valet parking and headed to the reception for a fast and pain-free check in service with friendly and helpful staff. What a breeze!

    There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai and guests can choose between a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and even a luxurious four-bedroom penthouse, depending on their requirements. All of them include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtub, plus a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine. As we’re a couple with one young child, we selected the one-bedroom, which had more than enough space and all the facilities that we would need inside the suite for a comfortable stay.

    The first thing you notice upon entering the suite is not the modern and tasteful décor, but the amazing view! We’re talking direct, uninterrupted views of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and, our personal favourite, the stunning Dubai Fountains. There aren’t many properties in Dubai that can compete on that level!

    All suites include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtubWith such a positive start, we were excited to check out the rest of the property, so after quickly unpacking, we visited the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool (one of our favourite hotspots during the stay, especially with the perfect weather at this time of year) and the gymnasium (confession time, we never visit gyms during a staycation, but it will definitely appeal to more active guests). For children, there is a separate kids pool, plus indoor and outdoor play areas, making it a family-friendly option for those with youngsters.

    ALSO READ: Don't miss our review of Al Bustan Centre and Residence, Dubai

    In terms of food, The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means ‘treasure’ in Arabic. The restaurant, formerly known as Orchid, opened around a month back and offers international cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist. Located on the second floor, it can accommodate 60 guests indoors and has 60 outdoor seats with Burj Khalifa views. The red and white interior design is complemented by a stylish wood finish and Arabic ornaments, giving the restaurant a more sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means treasure in ArabicOn top of that, you have countless dining venues within a stone’s throw of the hotel. In fact, everything’s on your doorstep, from world-class shopping to a massive multiplex cinema, and Dubai Metro links you to the rest of the emirate.

    As always, our weekend went past way too quickly, and we had a fantastic time. All-in-all, The Ramada Downtown is a winner in our eyes and offers a great product in the four-star hotel category, with equally good service. We’re not surprised that most of the hotel’s guests arrive from GCC countries, highlighting its appeal as a popular choice for business and leisure guests across the region.

    MORE HOTEL REVIEWS: Arjaan by Rotana Dubai Media City - 

    HOTEL REVIEW: Ramada Downtown, Dubai

    Posted at  3:04 AM  |  in  Hotel  |  Read More»

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai is located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown districtAfter a hectic couple of weeks, it was time for AroundTheUAE.com to arrange another much-needed staycation to relax, unwind and recharge our batteries. Our chosen venue for the weekend? The Ramada Downtown Dubai, located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown district, next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and other prized landmarks.

    The venue is fantastic – appealing to families on extended holidays, guests looking for a short getaway (like us) and business travellers attending conferences and exhibitions - and the term ‘room with a view’ couldn’t be more apt, but more about that later!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After battling through the local traffic and arriving at the four-star hotel, we made use of the complimentary valet parking and headed to the reception for a fast and pain-free check in service with friendly and helpful staff. What a breeze!

    There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai and guests can choose between a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and even a luxurious four-bedroom penthouse, depending on their requirements. All of them include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtub, plus a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine. As we’re a couple with one young child, we selected the one-bedroom, which had more than enough space and all the facilities that we would need inside the suite for a comfortable stay.

    The first thing you notice upon entering the suite is not the modern and tasteful décor, but the amazing view! We’re talking direct, uninterrupted views of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and, our personal favourite, the stunning Dubai Fountains. There aren’t many properties in Dubai that can compete on that level!

    All suites include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtubWith such a positive start, we were excited to check out the rest of the property, so after quickly unpacking, we visited the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool (one of our favourite hotspots during the stay, especially with the perfect weather at this time of year) and the gymnasium (confession time, we never visit gyms during a staycation, but it will definitely appeal to more active guests). For children, there is a separate kids pool, plus indoor and outdoor play areas, making it a family-friendly option for those with youngsters.

    ALSO READ: Don't miss our review of Al Bustan Centre and Residence, Dubai

    In terms of food, The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means ‘treasure’ in Arabic. The restaurant, formerly known as Orchid, opened around a month back and offers international cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist. Located on the second floor, it can accommodate 60 guests indoors and has 60 outdoor seats with Burj Khalifa views. The red and white interior design is complemented by a stylish wood finish and Arabic ornaments, giving the restaurant a more sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means treasure in ArabicOn top of that, you have countless dining venues within a stone’s throw of the hotel. In fact, everything’s on your doorstep, from world-class shopping to a massive multiplex cinema, and Dubai Metro links you to the rest of the emirate.

    As always, our weekend went past way too quickly, and we had a fantastic time. All-in-all, The Ramada Downtown is a winner in our eyes and offers a great product in the four-star hotel category, with equally good service. We’re not surprised that most of the hotel’s guests arrive from GCC countries, highlighting its appeal as a popular choice for business and leisure guests across the region.

    MORE HOTEL REVIEWS: Arjaan by Rotana Dubai Media City - 

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Abu Dhabi is home to six Jones the Grocer stores, following the launch of a new branch in Al MuneeraJones the Grocer is fast approaching its second decade of operations – an interesting age when it’s no longer considered a newcomer to the gourmet food sector, but hasn’t quite graduated to veteran status either.

    Still, it's the perfect time to look back at the brand’s impressive growth as “an Australia origin food emporium” (their words, not ours), expanding from its flagship Sydney store to other parts of Australia, and more recently conquering overseas markets such as New Zealand, Singapore, Qatar and the UAE.

    The reason for its success? Jones the Grocer carved a unique (and lucrative) niche for itself by combing a modern day café experience with a premium retail offering for gourmet products. The company embraced open plan layouts for its stores, with cheese rooms, sweets counters and European style delis on display while customers, sitting at communal tables, enjoyed meals prepared with ingredients straight off the shelves.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    This innovative approach has been well received in key international markets, including the UAE, where a growing collection of Jones the Grocer cafés in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been offering modern, fresh, and uncomplicated food since September 2009.

    The outdoor seating has been designed for friends and families to enjoy al fresco diningAbu Dhabi alone is home to six Jones the Grocer stores, following the launch of a new branch in the stunning Al Muneera complex this month. A public celebration was hosted to mark the occasion, which attracted more than double the expected number of attendees, with guests treated to free flowing bubbly and canapés from the menu.

    AroundTheUAE.com missed the rush and visited the store for dinner a few days later. Parking spaces are readily available, although be warned, there is a five minute walk from the car park to the restaurant, but it's a pleasant one, as you pass the water fountain and landscape gardens that surround the restaurant’s outdoor seating area.

    The outdoor seating has been designed for friends and families to enjoy al fresco dining, and the opening has been well timed to coincide with the cooler months ahead. Inside, the interiors are stylish, modern and classy… we have visited a few Jones the Grocers over the years, and this one is perhaps the best designed. It makes the most out of the store’s available space and features an open kitchen, seating area, and cheese and charcuterie section. A selection of retail products are also available, including groceries, home ware, gifts and hampers, cookbooks and a growing range of cooking accessories.

    ALSO READ: DOES AMALFI OFFER THE BEST BUSINESS LUNCH IN ABU DHABI? READ OUR REVIEW!

    Like all Jones the Grocer outlets in Abu Dhabi, the Al Muneera store is licensed to serve alcoholic drinks, subject to terms and conditions, which should be a draw from some of the expatriate community, as the options in the Raha Beach are somewhat limited.

    Jones the Grocer combines a modern day café experience with a premium retail offering for gourmet productsWe started our dinner with the signature ‘dips & bread’ entrée, which consisted of various types of toasted breads, served with a selection of dips and spreads. The portion was huge, more than enough for two people, but be careful not to fill yourself up.

    For the mains, we selected the ‘mac and four cheese’ (a medley of shropshire blue, garana padona, mimolette and aged cheddar, served with garlic croutons, escalivada and mixed green salad), while our guest went for the ‘chargrilled harissa chicken’ with couscous salad and red pepper emulsion. Both received the thumbs up, especially the mac and cheese, which is perhaps the best we’ve tried in Abu Dhabi to date.

    And finally for dessert, there we almost too many options (which is sinful to say, considering our sweet tooth), but after much contemplation, we selected the Raspberry and White Chocolate Tart, as well as the Chocolate Duo Cheese Cake, both of which were devoured within minutes, leaving us completely full and very satisfied!

    If you’re a fan of Jones the Grocer and find yourself in the vicinity of Al Muneera in Abu Dhabi, then this store is certainly worth a visit. And if you haven’t tried the restaurant chain yet, the opening of this branch could be the perfect opportunity to give it a try!

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Jones the Grocer, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  11:50 PM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Abu Dhabi is home to six Jones the Grocer stores, following the launch of a new branch in Al MuneeraJones the Grocer is fast approaching its second decade of operations – an interesting age when it’s no longer considered a newcomer to the gourmet food sector, but hasn’t quite graduated to veteran status either.

    Still, it's the perfect time to look back at the brand’s impressive growth as “an Australia origin food emporium” (their words, not ours), expanding from its flagship Sydney store to other parts of Australia, and more recently conquering overseas markets such as New Zealand, Singapore, Qatar and the UAE.

    The reason for its success? Jones the Grocer carved a unique (and lucrative) niche for itself by combing a modern day café experience with a premium retail offering for gourmet products. The company embraced open plan layouts for its stores, with cheese rooms, sweets counters and European style delis on display while customers, sitting at communal tables, enjoyed meals prepared with ingredients straight off the shelves.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    This innovative approach has been well received in key international markets, including the UAE, where a growing collection of Jones the Grocer cafés in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have been offering modern, fresh, and uncomplicated food since September 2009.

    The outdoor seating has been designed for friends and families to enjoy al fresco diningAbu Dhabi alone is home to six Jones the Grocer stores, following the launch of a new branch in the stunning Al Muneera complex this month. A public celebration was hosted to mark the occasion, which attracted more than double the expected number of attendees, with guests treated to free flowing bubbly and canapés from the menu.

    AroundTheUAE.com missed the rush and visited the store for dinner a few days later. Parking spaces are readily available, although be warned, there is a five minute walk from the car park to the restaurant, but it's a pleasant one, as you pass the water fountain and landscape gardens that surround the restaurant’s outdoor seating area.

    The outdoor seating has been designed for friends and families to enjoy al fresco dining, and the opening has been well timed to coincide with the cooler months ahead. Inside, the interiors are stylish, modern and classy… we have visited a few Jones the Grocers over the years, and this one is perhaps the best designed. It makes the most out of the store’s available space and features an open kitchen, seating area, and cheese and charcuterie section. A selection of retail products are also available, including groceries, home ware, gifts and hampers, cookbooks and a growing range of cooking accessories.

    ALSO READ: DOES AMALFI OFFER THE BEST BUSINESS LUNCH IN ABU DHABI? READ OUR REVIEW!

    Like all Jones the Grocer outlets in Abu Dhabi, the Al Muneera store is licensed to serve alcoholic drinks, subject to terms and conditions, which should be a draw from some of the expatriate community, as the options in the Raha Beach are somewhat limited.

    Jones the Grocer combines a modern day café experience with a premium retail offering for gourmet productsWe started our dinner with the signature ‘dips & bread’ entrée, which consisted of various types of toasted breads, served with a selection of dips and spreads. The portion was huge, more than enough for two people, but be careful not to fill yourself up.

    For the mains, we selected the ‘mac and four cheese’ (a medley of shropshire blue, garana padona, mimolette and aged cheddar, served with garlic croutons, escalivada and mixed green salad), while our guest went for the ‘chargrilled harissa chicken’ with couscous salad and red pepper emulsion. Both received the thumbs up, especially the mac and cheese, which is perhaps the best we’ve tried in Abu Dhabi to date.

    And finally for dessert, there we almost too many options (which is sinful to say, considering our sweet tooth), but after much contemplation, we selected the Raspberry and White Chocolate Tart, as well as the Chocolate Duo Cheese Cake, both of which were devoured within minutes, leaving us completely full and very satisfied!

    If you’re a fan of Jones the Grocer and find yourself in the vicinity of Al Muneera in Abu Dhabi, then this store is certainly worth a visit. And if you haven’t tried the restaurant chain yet, the opening of this branch could be the perfect opportunity to give it a try!

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Yas Mall will host over 370 retail, F&B brands and entertainment offeringsTo say we’re excited about the opening of Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi is a major understatement. The large-scale shopping centre will transform the emirate’s retail offering, with several brand new concepts being launched for the first time by leading regional and international stores.

    Yas Mall will host over 370 retail, F&B brands and entertainment offerings, all within easy reach of the capital and only 45 minutes from Dubai. Attached to the world’s largest indoor theme park Ferrari World, it completes the Yas Island proposition, which already boasts popular attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld, Yas Links, along with a large choice of hotels. 

    Yas Mall’s developer and operator Aldar has unveiled 10 key features that AroundTheUAE.com readers can expect once the mall’s doors are finally opened next month, including “the world’s biggest rollercoaster restaurant”! Intrigued? Check the list out below:

    Yas Mall’s design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of height, light and space
    1) Accessibility: Yas Mall boasts nearly 10,000 covered parking spaces, with direct access to the highway and only five minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, 15 minutes from the Abu Dhabi city centre, and 45 minutes from Dubai.  Visitors will also have easy access to other Yas Island amenities, including Ferrari World, via an elevated footbridge.

    2) Design: Yas Mall’s design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of height, light and space. A series of streets, avenues, boulevards and squares makes Yas Mall easy to navigate for visitors.

    3) Unique Store Concepts: Yas Mall aims to bring many distinctive brands under one roof.  All the stores are being encouraged to launch outlets, which are unique in design or offering.  Chalhoub Group, known for managing retail outlets and building brands, is creating their first own brand department store. The mall will also house the largest Debenhams outside of the UK in which shoppers will have access to a personal stylist.

    Visitors will also have easy access to other Yas Island amenities, including Ferrari World, via an elevated footbridge4) New Retail Brands: Yas Mall will house the first Hamley’s, Hollister, Brook’s Brothers in Abu Dhabi, and first Lego Store, standalone Under Armour store, two-level Go Sports store and Joe Fresh in UAE and the first Geant Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi. 

    5) Town Square: At the heart of Yas Mall, this central space represents the largest enclosed gathering space of any shopping centre in the Middle East, reinforcing the mall’s important role in the community. Its naturally-lit spaces surrounded by greenery and water features were specially designed to bring the outdoors indoors.


    There will be over 60 F&B outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and cafes spilling out onto Town Square
    6) Cinema: The 20 screen Vox Cinemas will boast the biggest MAX screen in Abu Dhabi at 24.5 metres wide. Along with three Gold Cinemas, its 4DX technology will engage all five senses and make audiences feel as if they are part of the feature.

    7) F&B: There will be over 60 F&B outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and cafes spilling out onto Town Square. Rogo’s, the world’s biggest Rollercoaster Restaurant, will break the mould on how food is served by sending orders to diners on roller coaster tracks. Other brands to look forward to include: The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, Shakespeare and Co., Angelina, Jamba Juice, Champions League Café, Pie Face and PAUL.

    8) Entertainment: Yas Mall is a place for families to spend time together and caters to children of all ages. Offerings include the first Fun Works in the UAE, the region’s largest adventure play system, with a 60,000 square foot area dedicated to playful learning and ‘edutainment’ with activities ranging from science and arts to theatre and construction. The mall will also cater to adults looking for some active fun, with the region’s first Softair Battlezone in which they can experience the thrill of competition.

    The food court at Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall9) Art: Acclaimed international Artist Marco Cianfanelli, known for his work in South Africa’s Freedom Park, will be designing three distinct sculptures, which will be strategically placed in and around Yas Mall. The mall also features spectacular hanging paper fibre art, designed by Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar who specialises in paper art, with many of his sculptures displayed in various cities around Europe. There are also plans for temporary exhibitions to entice art aficionados.

    10) Sustainability: Yas Mall is built around green principles. 80% of steel and 50% of wood used in construction has been recycled or sustainably sourced. In addition, 20% of all materials have been procured locally.


    SHOPPING REVIEW: Top 10 Reasons You Will Love Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi!

    Posted at  11:08 PM  |  in  Shopping  |  Read More»

    Yas Mall will host over 370 retail, F&B brands and entertainment offeringsTo say we’re excited about the opening of Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi is a major understatement. The large-scale shopping centre will transform the emirate’s retail offering, with several brand new concepts being launched for the first time by leading regional and international stores.

    Yas Mall will host over 370 retail, F&B brands and entertainment offerings, all within easy reach of the capital and only 45 minutes from Dubai. Attached to the world’s largest indoor theme park Ferrari World, it completes the Yas Island proposition, which already boasts popular attractions such as Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld, Yas Links, along with a large choice of hotels. 

    Yas Mall’s developer and operator Aldar has unveiled 10 key features that AroundTheUAE.com readers can expect once the mall’s doors are finally opened next month, including “the world’s biggest rollercoaster restaurant”! Intrigued? Check the list out below:

    Yas Mall’s design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of height, light and space
    1) Accessibility: Yas Mall boasts nearly 10,000 covered parking spaces, with direct access to the highway and only five minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, 15 minutes from the Abu Dhabi city centre, and 45 minutes from Dubai.  Visitors will also have easy access to other Yas Island amenities, including Ferrari World, via an elevated footbridge.

    2) Design: Yas Mall’s design is integral to the visitor experience, with a strong sense of height, light and space. A series of streets, avenues, boulevards and squares makes Yas Mall easy to navigate for visitors.

    3) Unique Store Concepts: Yas Mall aims to bring many distinctive brands under one roof.  All the stores are being encouraged to launch outlets, which are unique in design or offering.  Chalhoub Group, known for managing retail outlets and building brands, is creating their first own brand department store. The mall will also house the largest Debenhams outside of the UK in which shoppers will have access to a personal stylist.

    Visitors will also have easy access to other Yas Island amenities, including Ferrari World, via an elevated footbridge4) New Retail Brands: Yas Mall will house the first Hamley’s, Hollister, Brook’s Brothers in Abu Dhabi, and first Lego Store, standalone Under Armour store, two-level Go Sports store and Joe Fresh in UAE and the first Geant Hypermarket in Abu Dhabi. 

    5) Town Square: At the heart of Yas Mall, this central space represents the largest enclosed gathering space of any shopping centre in the Middle East, reinforcing the mall’s important role in the community. Its naturally-lit spaces surrounded by greenery and water features were specially designed to bring the outdoors indoors.


    There will be over 60 F&B outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and cafes spilling out onto Town Square
    6) Cinema: The 20 screen Vox Cinemas will boast the biggest MAX screen in Abu Dhabi at 24.5 metres wide. Along with three Gold Cinemas, its 4DX technology will engage all five senses and make audiences feel as if they are part of the feature.

    7) F&B: There will be over 60 F&B outlets, including outdoor dining on Cascade Walk and cafes spilling out onto Town Square. Rogo’s, the world’s biggest Rollercoaster Restaurant, will break the mould on how food is served by sending orders to diners on roller coaster tracks. Other brands to look forward to include: The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Changs, Shakespeare and Co., Angelina, Jamba Juice, Champions League Café, Pie Face and PAUL.

    8) Entertainment: Yas Mall is a place for families to spend time together and caters to children of all ages. Offerings include the first Fun Works in the UAE, the region’s largest adventure play system, with a 60,000 square foot area dedicated to playful learning and ‘edutainment’ with activities ranging from science and arts to theatre and construction. The mall will also cater to adults looking for some active fun, with the region’s first Softair Battlezone in which they can experience the thrill of competition.

    The food court at Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall9) Art: Acclaimed international Artist Marco Cianfanelli, known for his work in South Africa’s Freedom Park, will be designing three distinct sculptures, which will be strategically placed in and around Yas Mall. The mall also features spectacular hanging paper fibre art, designed by Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar who specialises in paper art, with many of his sculptures displayed in various cities around Europe. There are also plans for temporary exhibitions to entice art aficionados.

    10) Sustainability: Yas Mall is built around green principles. 80% of steel and 50% of wood used in construction has been recycled or sustainably sourced. In addition, 20% of all materials have been procured locally.


    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Amalfi's Business Lunch Menu, created by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Sfara and the hotel’s Executive Chef Justin GaleaDemand for business lunches in Abu Dhabi seems to be increasing by the day, and restaurants are desperate to tap into the lucrative market. However, while the capital boasts a wide range of options, we’ve struggled to find a venue that offers the perfect combination of ambience, menu selection, and quality of dishes… until now!

    AroundTheUAE.com booked a table at Amalfi, located in the prestigious Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, to savour its Business Lunch Menu. The restaurant has been named after a beautiful coastal town in Italy, which is a tourism magnet for the rich and famous due to its stunning beaches, amazing weather and delicious cuisine.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Thankfully for Abu Dhabi residents, being rich and famous is not a prerequisite to visit the Amalfi restaurant at Le Royal Méridien, and the Business Lunch Menu, created by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Sfara and the hotel’s Executive Chef Justin Galea, offers dinners a culinary journey to its namesake town without having a book a plane ticket.

    There’s something for everyone at Amalfi in Le Royal Meridien Hotel Abu DhabiThe menu, which includes homemade pasta, wooden oven-baked pizza, freshly made bread and scrumptious desserts, is available from midday until 3pm. A two-course meal is offered for AED 90 or three-course meal for AED 120, both of which can be served within an hour. This is perfect for the corporate crowd, who might be strapped for time but want to impress a client, sign a deal, or catch up with the team.

    It’s evident that a lot of thought has gone into the menu. There’s something for everyone and the combination of flavours within each dish, while unique in many instances, perfectly complement each other. For starters, we tried the tomato soup with mascarpone cheese and basil, and moved onto the pan fried sea bass with annurca apples, sautéed spinach and candied lemon zest for mains…. delizioso!

    Amalfi in Abu Dhabi's popular Creative Tiramisu dessertFor dessert, we struggled to decide between the valrhona white chocolate panna cotta with saffron and orange blossom, and the caramelised sheets of puff pastry layered with lemon custard, black cherry and illy mocha powder… in a gluttonous move, we decided to try both, leaving us extremely full, but completely satisfied!

    In conclusion, we would happily recommend the Amalfi Business Lunch Menu and this review would not be complete with a couple of special mentions. First, the staff were friendly, polite and truly added to our experience. Second, the stylish and modern interiors are very pleasing to the eyes and made a fantastic setting for our lunch. We sat indoors, but the outdoor area is also being opened as the weather improves in the UAE, which is reason enough for us to visit again in the near future!

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Peppermill at Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi - 

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  8:52 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Amalfi's Business Lunch Menu, created by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Sfara and the hotel’s Executive Chef Justin GaleaDemand for business lunches in Abu Dhabi seems to be increasing by the day, and restaurants are desperate to tap into the lucrative market. However, while the capital boasts a wide range of options, we’ve struggled to find a venue that offers the perfect combination of ambience, menu selection, and quality of dishes… until now!

    AroundTheUAE.com booked a table at Amalfi, located in the prestigious Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, to savour its Business Lunch Menu. The restaurant has been named after a beautiful coastal town in Italy, which is a tourism magnet for the rich and famous due to its stunning beaches, amazing weather and delicious cuisine.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    Thankfully for Abu Dhabi residents, being rich and famous is not a prerequisite to visit the Amalfi restaurant at Le Royal Méridien, and the Business Lunch Menu, created by Chef de Cuisine Pascal Sfara and the hotel’s Executive Chef Justin Galea, offers dinners a culinary journey to its namesake town without having a book a plane ticket.

    There’s something for everyone at Amalfi in Le Royal Meridien Hotel Abu DhabiThe menu, which includes homemade pasta, wooden oven-baked pizza, freshly made bread and scrumptious desserts, is available from midday until 3pm. A two-course meal is offered for AED 90 or three-course meal for AED 120, both of which can be served within an hour. This is perfect for the corporate crowd, who might be strapped for time but want to impress a client, sign a deal, or catch up with the team.

    It’s evident that a lot of thought has gone into the menu. There’s something for everyone and the combination of flavours within each dish, while unique in many instances, perfectly complement each other. For starters, we tried the tomato soup with mascarpone cheese and basil, and moved onto the pan fried sea bass with annurca apples, sautéed spinach and candied lemon zest for mains…. delizioso!

    Amalfi in Abu Dhabi's popular Creative Tiramisu dessertFor dessert, we struggled to decide between the valrhona white chocolate panna cotta with saffron and orange blossom, and the caramelised sheets of puff pastry layered with lemon custard, black cherry and illy mocha powder… in a gluttonous move, we decided to try both, leaving us extremely full, but completely satisfied!

    In conclusion, we would happily recommend the Amalfi Business Lunch Menu and this review would not be complete with a couple of special mentions. First, the staff were friendly, polite and truly added to our experience. Second, the stylish and modern interiors are very pleasing to the eyes and made a fantastic setting for our lunch. We sat indoors, but the outdoor area is also being opened as the weather improves in the UAE, which is reason enough for us to visit again in the near future!

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Peppermill at Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi - 

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