The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is easily one of the most recognizable five star properties in the capital. The architecture of this sprawling resort is inspired by the Italian Renaissance period and snakes along the waters edge, offering remarkable views across both Al Maqta Creek and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Amidst manicured hedgerows and a lagoon-like swimming pool visitors to the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal will find a number of distinguished dining destinations, including upmarket steakhouse The Forge, South East Asian restaurant Li Jiang and the contemporary Lebanese, Mijana.
Mijana is our dining destination for the evening, situated at the far end of the property the walk allows diners time to adjust to the grandiose and almost regal nature of the property, flanked in marble and draped in textiles, the Ritz Carlton here in Abu Dhabi certainly lives up to its luxurious reputation. Mijana however is slightly more casual than expected, with a fuss-free dining room that’s both simple and practical. The outside terrace is far more appealing and features a collection of wooden tables and chairs situated beneath aisles of palm trees strung with fairy lights. The twinkling lights, combined with the lapping of the ocean waves and the faint smell of sweet shisha make for a memorable setting and one that is particularly busy when we dine.
The cuisine features many Lebanese favourites alongside some regional specialties but with so many ‘Arabic’ restaurants vying for diners attention, we are intrigued as to what exactly sets Mijana apart. The menu offers few surprises but this a good thing, as the culinary team have taken traditional specialties and boosted them via a modern twist. It’s a bold move for such a legacy cuisine where recipes are passed down generation to generation but for Mijana it works and there are very few restaurants in Abu Dhabi taking this stance with the exception of Li Beirut at Jumeriah at Etihad Towers which follows a similar culinary ethos.
We begin with hot pita bread served straight from the oven, that goes particularly well with our cold mezze platter (AED 145), a strong selection of beetroot Moutabel, Muhammara, Hoummus, Warak Enab, Moutabal Batinjan, Babaganoush, Labneh and Hoummus Beiruti. The earthy beetroot Moutabel adorned with pine nuts and the spicy Muhammara really impress with their flavours, as do the vine leaves stuffed with vegetables, rice and pomegranite. The interpretation may be modern but the presentation is not, for the mezze are served upon a chunky glass dish that wouldn’t be amiss in our grandmothers house but has a quaint charm all the same.
We also order the hot mezze platter (AED 90) of Fatayer Jebneh, Fatayer Sabanekh, Fatayer Lahem and Kibbeh. Both the kibbeh and Fatayer Jebneh (cheese) are particularly moreish but there’s an elasticity to some of the pastry that undermines the texture.
Our selected main courses revolve around seafood and we select both the Mashawee Bahreeh (AED 205) and the Lobster Tail Meshui (AED 190). The seafood platter with its mix of fish (Sultan Ibrahim), prawns, sea scallops, calamari and lobster is generously portioned and rises from the plate like a mini mountain. Accompanied by rice it’s easily enough for two people to share and overall the seafood has a nice charred flavour from the grill. The Lobster Tail is the superior choice, marinated with Arabic spices, the flavour doesn’t overpower the delicate flesh of the crustacean and works to enhance the dish.
Unexpectedly, the desserts make for Mijana’s strongest course and while we deviate from our usual favourites of kunafa and Umm Ali, we’re pleased with our substitutions. The Madjoul Date Tart (AED 48) presents a thin tart stuffed with Madjoul cream paste and topped with ice cream and Ma’a El Zaher meringue which contains just a hint of rose. While the chocolate and Safawi choux (AED 48) is Mijana’s take on a profiterole, stuffing the cylindrical choux pastry with Khodri date paste before covering with chocolate and Valrhona Cream. Both desserts successfully bring the flavours of the Middle East to the plate but we would’ve liked the flavours of the choux to be a little more prominent.
It’s easy to see why Mijana’s terrace was nearing capacity when we dine on a Friday evening. The mixture of strong service from the team of personable staff and the atmosphere created by the oud player make for an enchanting evening that ties together the traditional and the contemporary nicely.
Location: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 10:30am – 1am
Phone: 02 818 8282
Out & About UAE were guests of Mijana. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.
Mijana: The Verdict