We often ask ourselves what elements make up a great night out? Is it good company… Free flowing beverages… A fun and relaxing atmosphere.. Bar bites… Live music? For us it’s an amalgamation of all the above and we’re happy to have found them in abundance at Jazz Bar and Dining at the Hilton Abu Dhabi corniche.
Following a summer hiatus the venue has been re-worked and the concept tinkered with. Ensuring that Jazz Bar sits firmly on the radar as a great nightlife spot in the capital. With the Hilton team working very hard to shake the seediness that may have plagued the venue previously. The launch of the new 2016 winter season is all about inclusion and fun vibes.
Entering via a narrow passageway, first impressions indicate that little has changed in the way of look. The venue remains small and intimate while retaining a sultry gloom. The color scheme of a black and white is still the focus and fits well into the venue’s charming jazz piano facade. Instruments play a significant role, not only in the live entertainment but also in the decor, with saxophones on the walls and a tiled floor resembling the keys of a keyboard. Illuminations of electric purple highlight a semi-circular bar area, behind which lies the stage.
Seating is divided into two distinct areas. Around the stage is a bar/lounge area and slightly higher sits the restaurant. Unfortunately there is little to separate the smoke from the bar making it’s way over to the dining area, detracting from the overall experience somewhat. The musical theme presides over diners with black and white portraits of some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians and napkins are embroidered with the treble clef note.
Seated by our server Bonny – a man of incredible character and banter who kept us laughing throughout the night – we settled in for the evening. With the bar providing a good selection of hops, grapes and spirits, it was cocktails we were after. With classic martinis, mojitos and margaritas all present and correct, the Disaronno Sour had us enamored due to its simple concoction of muddled Amaretto, bourbon and lemon juice. Despite sampling the Raspberry and Lychee Smash (vodka, lychee liquor, lemon juice and raspberry syrup) and the On The Beach (vodka, peach liquor, orange and cranberry juice) we eventually returned to the Disaronno Sour as our beverage of choice.
Monday’s and Wednesday’s coincide with a popular Ladies Night offerings a selection of complimentary beverages for ladies. This promotion certainly seems to be pulling in the crowds and the extended opening hours (now open until 3am) have certainly helped, as it was packed to the rafters during our visit.
With the re-launch comes a new band ‘DNA.’ An innovative group of singers and musicians with a penchant for old school R&B infused with neo-soul and of course Jazz. Things started wonderfully with a saxophonist meandering through the crowd to dutifully set the tone. Moving from instrumental Jazz to original versions of tracks such as Erykah Badu’s ‘On & On’ it was a great pleasure to watch, though the addition of a backing track seems unnecessary and detracted from the smooth tones of the saxophone.
Despite presenting itself as a jazz venue, the soundtrack of jazz is kept to a minimum. Instead party-goers are treated to commercial R&B (think Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, Sade’s Taboo and Whitney Houston’s Saving All My Love For You) with sporadic percussion and saxophone interludes. This certainly had the crowd moving and worked for the demographic in the room but ultimately those in search of jazz may feel a little short changed.
Despite a meat and seafood heavy menu, Jazz Bar and Dining offers a good selection of food, which similar the hotels other outlet Vasco’s surpassed our expectations. The chefs were especially accommodating towards a vegetarian on our table, substituting ingredients and even creating new dishes for her.
Portions throughout are large and offer good value for money, especially the appetizers. The chef’s recommendation of Seabass Ceviche (a dish that’s seemingly all the rage at the moment) offers a zesty lime, mango and chili flavour, topped with edible flowers. While the Jazz Salad comprises chunks of creamy mozzarella against a backdrop of pesto, avocado and a blood orange vinaigrette.
Sticking with the chefs recommendation for the main courses. The 320g Dutch Milk Fed Veal Cutlet was tender and beautifully cooked upon the bone and presented with asparagus spears and a rich truffle mashed potato. Perhaps not the best choice to accompany drinking and dancing, the food was hearty and a dish that we would order again. The vegetarian amongst us opted for a lighter choice with the Acquerello Risotto, a nice blend of black truffle, parmesan and balsamic.
The Hilton’s desserts continued to impress and despite being tempted by a sticky toffee pudding we eventually settled on the Oreo Cheesecake with hazelnut cream, mascarpone and brownie ice cream. The dish wasn’t too heavy and was beautifully plated upon rose petals and a chocolate Oreo crumb.
Again sticking with the chefs recommendations – appearing to be a reliable ordering system at the Hilton – we sampled the Apple Tarte Tatin. A combination of spiced cinnamon, cooked fruits, caramel sauce and banana ice cream that we liked more than we expected to.
It’s easy to see why Jazz Bar & Dining is so popular with the local crowd, having won Time Out Abu Dhabi’s ‘Best Live Music’ and ‘Best Jazz Night’ awards in 2015. It may be an old place but it makes up for this with particular charm and offers of a great night out on Abu Dhabi’s corniche. Things may kick off a little late but the crowd is fun and the location busy.
After partaking in some enjoyable live music, accompanied by a lively atmosphere and some exceptional beverages. We ventured back out into the night just as things were straying into Afrobeats territory but we recommend you stick around if only to witness DNA’s original rendition of Rihanna and Drake’s smash hit Work – which has to be seen to be believed!
Location: Hilton Hotel, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter
Hours: 8pm – 3am (closed Sundays)
Phone: 02 692 4247
We were invited to dine at Jazz Bar & Dining All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE, with two images used courtesy of Jazz Bar & Dining.