Time Out Abu Dhabi April
D+A | Singapore June 2009
Time Out Abu Dhabi March 2009
Multi-purpose spaces frequently fall short in one
department or another, usually featuring great beats and
nondescript eats, but The Yacht Club, a new Pacific Rim
cuisine restaurant and nightspot at the Abu Dhabi
Intercontinental Hotel, is a smooth-running vessel.
Its outdoor terrace is set to become a landing pad for
Abu Dhabi social life, now that the weather has begun to
cool. Outside, overstuffed white sofas with mountains of
cushions bolster lounge lizards while they sip their
drinks across from the Intercontinental’s private
marina. Nautical themes – hardwood floors and
navy-striped canvas cloth – are right out of the Forties
Hollywood classic The Lady Eve.
Stuffed white 'Chill-Out' sofas from
One Degree North Limited with mountains
of pillows make The Yacht Club’s terrace an ideal
place to enjoy the marina view.
The design by Poole
Associates, the architectural specialists behind such decorative
delights as the W Retreat & Spa Maldives, is almost reason enough to go.
[they are also designing W Retreat & Spa Bali, opening 2010] It’s
much more sophisticated than the rococo and gold leaf that seems to
flourish in the Emirates. The only complaint was the bright, disco
lavender lighting behind the DJ booth that seemed to clash with the
teak, navy and white interior.
The flatware was elegant and well-matched to the surroundings. The
dishes, in funky organic ceramic shapes and thick-stemmed water glasses,
were set in a Zen-like formation at only one corner of the dark wood
Though they were still
in the process of ironing out some kinks in the service – a second round
of drinks we wanted to come with our main courses never materialised –
overall, the staff were attentive in the right way. There wasn’t a mad
dash to get the courses to the table, something that’s often a problem
in Abu Dhabi, and the chef made the nice gesture of making the rounds
with diners to inquire about the quality of the food.
Though The Yacht Club
was already out of sashimi and tuna loin when we arrived at 8.00pm,
there were plenty of options still left to choose from. The chicken and
beef satay was scented with coconut and served with a properly savoury –
not sweet – peanut sauce. The seared scallops, perfectly tender and not
overly chewy, were served with tamarind-chilli mayonnaise on a
wafer-thin omelette, as if they were resting on a miniature yellow
However, the smoked
duck breast salad with pickled figs and wilted endive literally fell
flat. Wilted endives sounded like an intriguing concept, but tasted a
lot more like a ruse to mask old produce and the salad was also heavily
overdressed (like a woman wearing an evening gown to Burger King). The
smoked duck sliced on top was the only saving grace, and, if not for the
swamp of endives, could have made a tasty appetiser in its own right.
While pondering the
attractive dinner ware, we were greeted by a huge steaming bowl of
pacific chowder, made of tom yum broth with rice noodles and shrimp and
squid, infused with a balanced blend of both lemon grass and chilli
spice. Switching to something heartier, we marvelled at the rosemary and
garlic lamb loin, cut and plated to look like a skyscraper, and
accompanied by a blue cheese sauce which provided an original twist to
this standard dish.
We took a brief look at
the dessert menu, hoping to get our order in before 10.00pm, when the
restaurant kitchen closes and the DJs power up for a night of dancing.
We ordered the tropical fruit platter, which featured mango, pineapple
and melon (though we’re not sure that melon counts as a tropical fruit),
accompanied by a spiced honey yogurt dip which lent an exotic twist to
this somewhat banal selection of fruits. The baked chocolate and
hazelnut tart with caramel ice cream was really more of a brownie, and
though cloaked in admittedly toothsome ice cream, seemed like the kind
of dessert we’re used to finding in the display case at Starbucks.
Even on a Sunday night,
the crow was trendy, there were only a few couples in the restaurant,
which was not surprising considering that the music drowned out
conversation as the night wore on. Most of the dinner patrons looked
like high rollers conducting high-profile mealtime meetings, but later
on, the crowd diversified to include a broader range of hipsters.
All in all, despite a few blips in food and service, this hot new
establishment is creating a large wave in the placid waters of Abu
Dhabi’s food scene.
The Yacht Club,
Intercontinental Hotel, Marina Hotel, Bainouna Street, Abu Dhabi, 02 666
6888. Average price of a meal for two, Dh320.