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Yachting the Night Away

sound track : 'J'taime' by Nico Grubert | Voyage One CD2  by Rabih



Press Index


Time Out Abu Dhabi April 2012

D+A | Singapore June 2009

Time Out Abu Dhabi March 2009

The National  October 2008

Sarah Wolff

  • Last Updated: October 28. 2008 7:45PM UAE / October 28. 2008 3:45PM GMT

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 table.

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 tatami mat.

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.