The third annual FACT Dining Awards took place last Tuesday (18th April) at Abu Dhabi’s Asia de Cuba, a stunning waterfront venue overlooking the Arabian Gulf and seemingly the perfact location for an awards ceremony.
Following our recent interview with FACT’s Editor-in-chief, Shabana Adams (which you can read here), we were very excited to attend this years awards and extremely honoured to be invited onto the judging panel. For those who don’t know, FACT is a monthly urban lifestyle publication specialising in hospitality, dining, fashion and arts and culture. It’s the highlight of our work day when the new issue of FACT arrives, as we love perusing the glossy pages of high quality images, engaging content and not forgetting the funky covers.
With 150 of the very best F&B venues in the capital being represented in 31 categories, it was a night of celebration for both the winners and the nominees, in an event that was attended by close to 300 guests, including GMs, F&B Directors, Chefs, Marketing and PR professionals, as well as selected Abu Dhabi bloggers (ourselves included) and social media influencers.
Mingling beneath the twinkling fairy-lights, while indulging in some of Asia de Cuba’s signature Latin-inspired cuisine (not to mention a few too many glasses of Prosecco), the FACT awards are more focused on celebrating the industry and having a good time, than the formalities usually associated with awards ceremonies.
Winners are awarded based on both the public vote and the critics opinion, with each category given two awards – BEST and FAVOURITE. Best is the critic’s choice, determined by an independent panel of food bloggers, industry experts and the FACT editorial team. Favourite is the result of a public online vote, with over 30,000 votes cast for this years nominees.
Embodying FACT’s down-to-earth approach, the event was a laid-back affair, with all 62 awards announced by Nans Group CEO Greg Hughes in a rapid-fire 12 minute presentation, that revealed more than a couple of surprises. The winners of each category were highlighted on a large screen and once all the winners has been announced, the recipients could go and collect their awards and have photographs taken.
“The turn out was beyond amazing with nearly 300 people from the industry joining us for an evening of true celebration. I would like to congratulate all the winners, and give a huge shout out to every single nominee — you are the heartbeat of this great city and this is just our way of showing appreciation for your continued hard work,” – Greg Hughes, CEO at Nans Group.
In such a competitive marketplace it was nice to see newcomers like The Four Seasons Hotel and Nusr-Et (#SaltBae) picking up awards. While more established brands like The Intercontinental, Jumeriah at Etihad Towers and Le Royal Meridien all managed to maintain strong levels of consistency, with each property taking home multiple awards.
Tamba’s win for favourite restaurant in Abu Dhabi must also be applauded (go team Tamba)!
Our first time at the FACT Awards marked a fantatic event and we got to meet some new people from within the industry, while celebrating the very best of the business. A huge thank you to FACT magazine for inviting us and to Asia de Cuba for hosting such a remarkable evening.
So next time you’re looking for somewhere to dine, or a place to grab coffee. Why not visit one of the recepients of this years FACT awards? So without further ado, here are this years winners:
Best: Market Kitchen (Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Trader Vic’s (Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi)
Best: Brasserie Angélique (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers)
Favourite: Bentley Bistro & Bar (The Galleria)
Best: Villa Toscana (The St. Regis Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Circo (InterContinental Abu Dhabi)
Best: The Beach House (Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas)
Favourite: 18 Degrees (Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi)
Best: Li Beirut (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers)
Favourite: Byblos Sur Mer (InterContinental Abu Dhabi)
Best: Barouk (Crowne Plaza Yas Island)
Favourite: Hubbly Bubbly (Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi)
Best: Finz (Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Sayad (Emirates Palace)
Best: Hakkasan (Emirates Palace)
Favourite: Dai Pai Dong (Rosewood Abu Dhabi)
South East Asian Restaurant:
Best: Sontaya (The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort)
Favourite: Cho Gao (Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi)
Best: Tori No Su (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers)
Favourite: Inakaya (Venetian Village Abu Dhabi)
Best: Angar (Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Indigo (Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi)
Best: Pachaylen (Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa By Anantara)
Favourite: Benjarong (Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi)
Latin American Restaurant:
Best: Asia De Cuba (The St. Regis Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Noche (Hilton Capital Grand)
Best: Butcher & Still (Four Seasons Hotel Al Maryah Island)
Favourite: The Foundry (Southern Sun Abu Dhabi)
Best: Mezlai (Emirates Palace)
Favourite: Al-Fanar (Venetian Village Abu Dhabi)
Best: BU! (The Hub, The World Trade Centre Mall)
Favourite: Teatro (Park Rotana Abu Dhabi)
All-Day Dining Restaurant:
Best: Rosewater (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers)
Favourite: Latest Recipe (Le Meridien Abu Dhabi)
Al Fresco Dining Restaurant:
Best: BBQ Al Qasr (Emirates Palace)
Favourite: Li Jiang (The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal)
Best: Eclipse (Four Seasons Hotel Al Maryah Island)
Favourite: Nahaam (Jumeirah at Etihad Towers)
Best: Belgian Café (InterContinental Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Heroes (Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi)
Best: Stills (Crowne Plaza Yas Island)
Favourite: Velocity (Marriott Hotel Downtown)
Best: Stratos (Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Barfly by Buddha Bar (Venetian Village Abu Dhabi)
Best: Nolu’s Downtown (The Galleria)
Favourite: Leopold’s of London (Nation Towers)
Best: The Coffee Club (Various Locations)
Favourite: Tim Hortons (Various Locations)
Best: Alba (The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal)
Favourite: Morjana (Bab Al Qasr)
Best: Carluccio’s (Various Locations)
Favourite: Biryani Pot (The Galleria)
Best: Brunch in the Clouds (The St. Regis Abu Dhabi)
Favourite: Bubbalicious Brunch (The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa)
Family-Friendly Friday Brunch:
Best: Giornotte (The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal)
Favourite: Sofra bld (Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri)
Independent Weekend Brunch:
Best: Andiamo Brunch (Roberto’s Abu Dhabi, The Galleria)
Favourite: Saturday Gochiso Brunch (Koi Abu Dhabi)
Best: Nusr-Et (The Galleria)
Favourite: Puesta del Sol (Fairmont Bab Al Bahr)
Best: Restaurant in Abu Dhabi 2017: Zuma (Al Maryah Island)
Favourite Restaurant in Abu Dhabi 2017: Tamba (The Hub, The World Trade Centre Mall)
We were invited to the FACT Awards. All photographs are © Kaby Photography