A new restaurant opening in Abu Dhabi is always something to get excited about, especially if the establishment is bringing something new to the Capital’s ever-growing dining scene.
As self-confessed ‘foodies’ we were excited to hear that a seafood shack had opened up in the retail units at the bottom of Guardian Tower just off Muroor Road and so it was that we found ourselves at The Shack whilst dodging rain showers on a thundery Monday afternoon.
As expected the parking was a nightmare, yet we were pleasantly surprised when we actually found the location. The exterior of the restaurant is a striking feature, when contrasted with the glass tower that rises above it, for it is a wholly wooden affair embossed with large white images of lobsters, squids and burgers.
Inside the theme continues with a combination of wood, hessian and exposed brick. The furniture is simplistic but in keeping with the aesthetics of the beachside shack vibe. Despite the awful weather (we can’t really complain though as it so rarely rains in the UAE) we certainly felt that we had been transported to some far flung island locale, complete with driftwood and hanging lanterns that looked like that they belonged on a boat, rather than some ceiling in Abu Dhabi.
The Shack has been open for less than month and is currently in a soft opening phase, Meaning that the whole menu was not currently being offered to customers, though specially highlighted items are available to sample. The repercussions of this ‘soft opening’ also meant that the entire second level of the restaurant was closed to customers. The ground level is home to a small bar area, with stool-seating an high tables, plus a dining area with about six tables – it is a small restaurant but the space is utilised well and large glass windows help to complete the look.
To begin with the staff were really helpful, talking us through the menu and helping us to decide on what dishes would be suited for us, they were also overly thorough at confirming small details, such as the addition of ice to drinks and wifi passwords.
The menu offers a selection of sandwiches, pastas, salads and grilled items and prices are noticeably high. We opted for the ‘hot lobster roll’ and the ‘shack roll’ based upon our servers recommendation and happily awaited the impending arrival. A couple of minutes later passed before we were informed that the French fries that were supposed to accompany the order, were unavailable and would be substituted for mashed potatoes instead! This was not really an accompaniment you would want with a sandwich, and when asked if there was an alternative, we were politely told ‘no.’
The food arrived and visually looked really appealing. The hot lobster roll contained a generous serving of succulent lobster crammed into a sweet and tasty buttered roll. Whilst my dining companion had the shack roll, a combination of lobster, shrimp and crab meat served chilled – and by chilled we mean frozen!
As soon as my companion started to eat their shack roll, they believed that the filling was partially frozen (the addition of ice crystals would certainly confirm the fact). When the issue was discussed with two separate members of staff, both were dismissive and informed us that the food had been in no way frozen, and that it was “supposed to be like that.” Unfortunately the team at The Shack who had started off so polite and helpful, did little to appease the situation – no offer to bring another roll, or for us to change the dish.
The sides that accompanied the rolls were mashed potatoes and coleslaw and despite being served in nifty little metal buckets, the portions were small. This was fine though as both side dishes tasted bland and under seasoned – which was disappointing as the hot lobster roll has tasted so good.
Prior to our visit we had wanted to sample the desserts at The Shack, having seen on Instagram a dessert called ‘the crime scene’ – comprising a sizzling chocolate brownie, served with ice cream and popping candy, upon a hot plate. After our main course disappointment and the blasé attitude of the staff towards our concerns, we decided to skip dessert completely.
Ultimately, The Shack is a great venue aesthetically, but one that feels like a squandered opportunity. In a market place that is over-saturated with food and beverage options, businesses really must try and be more accommodating to their customers needs. Put it down to ‘teething issues’ due to the soft opening, but we really hope that things improve once the restauatnt launches fully in mid-April. Though in all honesty we can’t see ourselves rushing back anytime soon.
The Good: The Shack is a lovely space and the decor is aesthetically pleasing, really making you feel as though you are in some sort of trendy beachside setting. Soft beverages are refillable (always a bonus) and the hot lobster roll was really good.
The Not So Good: The portions veer on the small side, whilst the prices are high, so you are not necessarily getting value for money. The customer service that we experienced meant that our issues went unresolved and the mediocrity of the food is something that the management need to address.
Location: Guardian Tower, Muroor Road, Embassies District, Abu Dhabi
Phone: 02 449 1114
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.