French fine dining restaurant Bord Eau at the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri has quite the reputation for launching unexpected and often intriguing concepts upon 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 ‘From Paris with love’, a recreation of Valentine’s Day taking place on the 14th of each month and setting the scene for a truly memorable evening.
With French dining options relatively scarce in Abu Dhabi it’s pleasing to note that Bord Eau manages to retain its unequivocally French charm even upon repeat visits and the restaurant makes for the strongest of the dining options in the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri’s repertoire, even surpassing the Asian hotels chains signature Cantonese restaurant, Shang Palace.
Bord Eau champions the fine dining experience through a dining room encompassing elegant light fittings, tasteful artworks, natural tones and impeccably pressed table linens. Making for an atmospheric and visually appealing restaurant that bucks the Abu Dhabi trend for over-sized restaurants in the process. Bord Eau is small and intimate adding to the charm of what is easily one of the capitals most unique restaurants.
Despite the recent arrival of La Petite Maison to the city, Bord Eau has remained true to it’s concept of providing top quality ingredients in the creation of classical French recipes, albeit with a contemporary twist and exquisite plating. All under the guidance of Chef de cuisine Jimmy De Almeida who has been at the restaurants helm for the past two years.
A menu can say a lot about a restaurant and at Bord Eau things are no different. A two page affair of pearl coloured paper and embossed fonts is bound in blue leather, adding a sense of class and romanticism to proceedings. This feeling is heightened by the impeccable service and our waiter Thushaj, is polite, engaging and unbelievably well-versed in the intricacies of the menu (he even remembers us from our previous visit almost a year before). It’s his tact for remembering our choices and helping us to navigate the menu and it’s 250 wine labels that should not only be admired but commended, especially in a city where service varies so wildly.
We begin with a selection of sharing starters which includes a beef check croquette (AED 65) served with a light cauliflower puree and comes rolled in hazelnuts. There’s a surprisingly sweetness to the dish helping to offset the richness of the slow cooked beef.
Keeping things typically French we can’t resist the escargots (AED 55) that aren’t served in the shell as expected. Instead this unique take on snails cooks the gastropods in a garlic and parsley sauce before serving them over a crisp puff pastry that brings an additional texture to the intricately plated dish.
The biggest surprise of the sharing starters which also includes tuna tartare, foie gras and a traditional pithivier, transpires to be the obsiblue prawn marinated in candied lime (AED 105). The blue coloured shrimp native to the French territory of New Caledonia are generally eaten raw and at Bord Eau are served in a similar vein to ceviche. With the lime marination adding a distinct lightness to a dish that’s better than the majority of South American ceviches we’ve tried in recent months.
Part of the beauty of dining at Bord Eau is the concise menu and it’s pleasing to see the focal produce from the starters reinvented into main courses, Mains are categorised into fish and seafood, cuts from the lava-stone grill and sharing dishes suitable for two people, further emphasising the romantic concept for which Bord Eau is becoming renowned.
It’s a steak lovers paradise and we satisfy our cravings with the 450g classic Chateaubriand (AED 690) served with organic spelt, mushrooms, a delightfully creamy mashed potato and both a bernaise and an outstanding beef red wine jus. The thick slices of meat are cooked a perfect medium rare upon our request and deliver in terms of both flavour and texture. We only wish that Bord Eau would bring a little bit of interactivity to the table as showcased with the Chateaubriand at other venues throughout the city.
Desserts continue the ethos of less is more with only six choices available and despite staff recommending the appealing coffee soufflé, we decide upon the Valrhona 67% Ashanti Chocolate Tart (AED 45) and the Extravaganza of the moment (AED 45). The luxury Valrhona chocolate has been produced in the French village of Tain L’Hermitage for almost a century and makes for a real treat. The mixture is filled with blueberries and topped with a red fruit sorbet that works to complement the chocolate. Yet the Extravaganza of the moment is a dish to remember, living up to the name as a take on the melting chocolate sphere stuffed full of goodies (we won’t ruin the surprise here).
Typically fine dining, the portions are somewhat restrained but you’re unlikely to leave hungry, having traversed some of the capitals best French cuisine – where much of the produce is flown in specially from France – without a duck l’orange or crepes suzette in sight.
Bord Eau represents an occasion restaurant and it’s easy to see why this spot was recently named winner of the best French restaurant category at the 2018 Fact Abu Dhabi Dining Awards. For a real sense of ‘je ne sais quoi’ head down to Bord Eau at the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of FACT Magazine.
Location: Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
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Hours: 6:30pm – 11:30pm (closed Saturdays)
Phone: 02 509 8511
Out & About UAE were guests of Bord Eau. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.