French fine dining restaurant Bord Eau at the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri has quite the reputation for launching unexpected and often intriguing concepts for Abu Dhabi’s discerning diners. These fanciful forays have included a recreation of the final dinner served to the first class passengers upon the ill-fated Titanic and now we have ‘From Paris With Love.’
With a distinctly Parisian feel, From Paris with love looks to bring Valentine’s Day to diners in the capital on the 14th of every month, presenting the perfect date night experience for couples looking for a truly memorable evening. As first-timers to Bord Eau, we were absolutely floored! Having had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with the property over the years, where good food is often let down by inadequate service and uninspired restaurant spaces, Bord Eau appears to be the exception to the rule. A classically fine-dining space of naturalistic tones, pristine white table clothes, dangling chandeliers and sparkling glassware, that feels special from the moment you cross the threshold. Making for the most atmospheric and visually appealing restaurant in Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri’s repertoire.
So what makes this dining experience particularly romantic? Well, for a restaurant looking to recreate Valentine’s Day, diners are treated to an intimate dining experience with just a few tables, evenly spaced to ensure privacy is granted. Tables are strewn with fresh rose petals and the lighting choice allows for pockets of darkness to provide just enough intimacy without detracting from the ability to actually see the food. Partnered with pandering service, a caricature artist, and a live accordion player, From Paris with love really does feel like dining riverside on the Seine.
At AED 555 for two people (inclusive of wine) diners receive a four-course meal with two choices presented for each course. Typical of fine dining, the portions are restrained but you will not leave hungry, having traversed some of the capitals best French cuisine without a duck l’orange or crepes suzette in sight. We begin with a trio of amuse-bouches comprising of sweet octopus salad, a robust mushroom pie covered in a flaky golden pastry, and an appealing beef croquette. None of which will set the world alight but offer a good introduction to the classic French cuisine of Bord Eau, where much of the produce is flown in specially from France.
A Red Pumpkin Soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and butternut condiment is a velvety delight that brings a sense of comfort and homeliness to these autumnal ingredients, but it’s the Beetroot Cured Lochfine Salmon that wins the appetiser course. The beets bring a subtle earthiness to the thin slices of salmon, which are heightened further via the use of a whipped creme wasabi. Chef de cuisine Jimmy De Almeida has crafted a dish of complex flavours and contrasting textures that blend together so well that we hope it appears on the full a la carte menu soon.
As each course is presented to the table with the utmost precision, it’s clear this is a meal to be savoured and appreciated. Mrs Out & About affectionately referred to the crockery as “wedding china” and this is a notion that perfectly falls into line with the concept of a romantic evening driven by conversation and great company that actually feels special.
Main courses offered on the evening we dined (the set-menu changes each month) included a meat and fish option. The Australian Beef Tenderloin with baby potatoes and wild mushrooms offered a colourful plate of beautifully pink beef complemented by a rich rosemary jus and a smooth spinach puree. Our preferred choice were the Grilled Scottish Scallops infused with aromatic lemongrass and galangal (ginger) and presented in an indulgent foam with hints of hazelnut and chunks of charred cauliflower.
Our one criticism came from the fact that the choices are removed when it comes to the dessert course, meaning that only one option is available. In our case, the dish of the evening was a Poached Pear – something we would never willingly select. We like our desserts to be decadent and indulgent and a poached pear just doesn’t fit into that expectation, but the classically French dessert at Bord Eau came with lashings of chocolate sauce, salty buttered caramel and vanilla ice cream that helped to ease our initial reservations. The pear is served slightly firm and though difficult to ‘carve’ transpired to be a lighter end to the meal that we in turn appreciated.
The pacing of the meal is all part of the charm and romanticism of the evening, with the Bord Eau team reading the table exceptionally well and presenting a professionalism that’s almost unheard of in this city. All without the need to disturb diners, which is key to an experience like this and makes for a refreshing change from the abrupt service style of another recent meal at Hoi An in the same property. Shangri La describes their service as “Shangri-La Hospitality from a caring family” and it’s a relief to see this notion finally come to fruition at the Abu Dhabi location.
From Paris With Love was at full-capacity when we visited in October and it’s easy to see why. The idea of a Valentine’s Day celebration that doesn’t have to wait until the 14th of February is very appealing and we suggest you seek this out for your next date night.
Location: Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 6:30pm – 11:30pm (closed Saturdays)
Phone: 02 509 8511
We were invited to dine at Bord Eau. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Cover image used courtesy of Shangri La Abu Dhabi.