With the arrival of the cooler climate, we couldn’t be happier to welcome back al fresco dining season to the capital. Abu Dhabi’s winter months represent a transitional period for the city, as terraces and seasonal venues re-open for business and residents and tourists relish the opportunity to sit outside in comfort once again.
Winner of the best al fresco dining award at the 2017 Fact Abu Dhabi Dining Awards, BBQ Al Qasr at the Emirates Palace boasts one of the most romantic locations to dine in the capital. Curtains flutter dramatically against the cool sea breeze, while wooden walkways traverse the golden sands leading to raised gazebos for dining. It’s an idyllic beachside setting of the kind you’ll only find in the UAE and one which brings a touch of luxury to the outdoors, accompanied by the outstanding levels of service for which the Palace is renowned.
Sat on a swathe of golden sand, sandwiched between the grandeur of the palace walls and the Arabian Gulf it takes some time to absorb one of the cities most picturesque dining locations. The natural surroundings of sand, sea and slender palm trees complement BBQ AL Qasr’s concept well. The pride of this particular venue are understandably the prime cuts of meat, yet the concise menu also offers a good selection of crisp salads and grilled seafood.
We begin with the Honeymoon Salad, a visual treat of a dish that takes on the appearance of a potted plant. Spiralled cucumber and carrots are meticulously arranged amongst mushrooms and a ‘soil’ of guacamole, adding to the illusion of a bouquet of flowers in bloom. With vegetable chips for dipping and a quaint watering can used to apply the ginger, honey and mustard dressing. The dish’s interactivity and innovation are only matched by the exquisite taste.
We deliberate between the Octopus In Variation or Hand Dived Scallops for our appetisers and eventually settle on the latter. It’s a worthy choice and one that reflects our dining location, where the sound of ocean waves lapping against the shore takes precedence. Delicate scallops are plated with cecine de Leon (smoke-cured beef), confit ceps (mushrooms) and a pistachio puree, providing a contrast in textures that works to enhance the harmonious flavours.
With seafood dominating our appetisers, beef becomes the focus of our main courses (steaks are BBQ Al Qasr’s signature after all). Showcasing the finest cuts from around the world, all of which are “simply cooked on charcoal.” The high quality of meat offered is a real testament to the culinary team at the Palace. Opting for the 250g Mr. Fillet of Margaret River Australian Wagyu and the 160g Mrs. Fillet of Australian Organic Angus Beef, both come plated with a small salad and the additional touch of a vegetable crisp, burnt into which you’ll find the cooking temperature of the meat. Accompanied by garlic spinach, gluttonous truffle potatoes and a dazzling array of sauces, we’re suitably impressed by the high marbling and seductivley tender nature of the Wagyu. Our knife slides easily through the meat, taking on a slight char from the charcoal cooking method. Two courses in, we’re beaten and a little too full for dessert.
Making a mental note to return specifically for the BBQ short ribs and dark chocolate fondant with kumquat, we know it’s only a matter of time before we return again. Next time perhaps at night when the venue is illuminated by flickering tiki lights to add an extra level of romanticism to proceedings.
In a property where 24 karat gold cappuccinos, ice creams adorned with sheets of gold leaf, and camel burgers are the norm, the Emirates Palace once again steps things up with a grandiose offering. Described as a casual dining venue, we would note that BBQ Al Qasr is anything but! Granted it may be less opulent than some of the twelve other restaurants and bars, therefore casual by the Emirates Palace standards, but BBQ Al Qasr manages to evoke a magical quality with a touch of luxury found at very few places in Abu Dhabi.
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of FACT Magazine.
Location: Emirates Palace, Corniche Road, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi
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Hours: 1pm – midnight
Phone: 02 690 7999
Out & About UAE were guests of BBQ Al Qasr. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.