The Abu Dhabi Edition is finally open and marks a unique entity in the capitals hospitality sector, resulting in a property that doesn’t feel very “Abu Dhabi.” Bucking the trend for opulence that many hotels in the city appear to strive for, the first Edition hotel in the region feels more restrained with just 198 modern rooms. A boutique property of understated luxury that feels like a breath of fresh air.
British Celebrity Chef Tom Aikens who holds the title as the youngest chef to be awarded the coveted Michelin Star, has curated the menus for the restaurants which include Mediterranean spot Alba Terrace, Market at The Edition(where we had the pleasure of meeting the man himself during F1 weekend) and The Oak Room.
Much like the hotel in which it resides, The Oak Room is looking to bring a unique twist to a city which already has its fair share of steakhouses. Hidden behind dark recessed wood, the entrance is easily missed, but hidden behind the atmospheric panels lies a British rock and roll steakhouse with a soundtrack to match. Startling black and white images of Mick Jagger and David Bowie line the walls, while the bar makes for the ideal spot for a pre-dinner drink. In the adjacent dining room, bulbous gold light fittings set the tone with velvet banquettes bringing a sense of sophistication which is surpassed by the butchery. An equally impressive design element showcases the meat cuts and associated paraphernalia (saws, cleavers) behind glass casing.
The Oak Room’s carefully crafted menu had us immediately salivating with its mix of steakhouse classics and more abstract choices, all given a distinct British spin. But first we’ve got to talk about the marmite butter! Love it or hate it, Marmite forms the first stage of The Oak Room’s culinary journey as the yeast based condiment is incorporated into a freshly churned butter and served over warm sour dough bread that’s likely to covert even the strongest naysayers.
Portions are more than generous with a kale and cashew salad (AED 60) piled high with apple and roasted broccoli, representing a superfood mountain that reflects chef Aikens culinary ethos of making the most of local ingredients. The Seared Hand Dived Scallops (AED 140) take the traditional British notion of Coronation Chicken (a dish originally created in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II) and re-invents it as a seafood spectacular. A duo of plump delicate scallops, perfectly cooked are complemented by a light curry foam while the charred cauliflower provides texture. It’s easy to see why the dish was included on our list of 2018’s best dishes.
Before ordering our main courses we’re introduced to charismatic meat sommelier Charlie Grainger, a former butcher from West Sussex, England. A novel idea and a first for us, the role of a meat sommelier is to guide those who may be perturbed by the cuts or are interested in learning about butchery to find the perfect steak.
We’re led to some interesting cuts including the 350g Master Kobe Ribeye (AED 790) which may be pricey but is regarded as the best beef money can buy, coming from full blood Wagyu cattle and boasting a marble score of 9+. As the only restaurant in the UAE to stock Spanish Rubia, a retired dairy cow that had been matured in the Spanish mountains for between 8 – 15 years (depending on the cow) it becomes an instant must order!
The Master Kobe is a fantastic piece of meat, charred on the outside and delightfully tender within. It may be cliché but the meat from this particular cut really does melt in the mouth and the fat breaks down to help bring exceptional flavour. An acquired taste perhaps, the 400g Spanish Rubia Striploin (AED 390) is served with the bone-in for extra intensity and has a very pronounced flavour. The meat is particularly gamey with a unique almost venison-like profile. With a pleasing array of mustards, sauces and sides to select from all we can say at this point is don’t miss the Wagyu Fat Chips (AED 50)!
Desserts are quintessentially British with options such as spotted dick and apple and blackberry crumble. The prices are similar to those of the side dishes, making the final course particularly good value for money. Running the gauntlet of British classics we opt for the Sticky Toffee Pudding (AED 30) which is everything you’d expect, verging on the correct side of sweetness without being sickly and given a Middle Eastern twist thanks to the inclusion of dates. The Eton Mess (AED 30) continues The Oak Room trend of big portions, piling high countless layers of meringue, fresh strawberries and lashings of cream. Would we have preferred the meringue pieces to be bigger? Perhaps! Yet the dessert successfully reminds us of summers at Wimbledon and a nostalgic feeling of home.
Since opening, the restaurant has garnered strong word of mouth reviews from Abu Dhabians, resulting in a busy restaurant on the evening we visit. Service is particularly strong and the young team boast strong menu knowledge and oodles of personality that can only be rivalled by the beguiling cocktails. The Oak Room is not conforming to the Abu Dhabi norm, instead a unique path is being formed and it’s one that we cannot wait to follow…
Location: The Abu Dhabi Edition, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Phone: 02 208 0000
Out & About UAE were guests of the The Oak Room. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE