We’ve found ourselves spending a significant amount of time at the Rosewood hotel in recent months. Whether it be at one of the popular Friday brunches held at Aqua and Sambusek or the ludicrously cheap all you can eat dim sum lunch, currently available at Dai Pai Dong.
Yet what continues to surprise us about this luxurious offering on Al Maryah Island. Are the number of secret outlets that we happen to stumble upon every once in a while, from the aptly named Hidden Bar, to the more casual Glo. Both of which are excellent venues for happy hour sundowners overlooking the shimmering waters and glittering lights of downtown Abu Dhabi.
Last week we found ourselves at yet another of these almost-secret venues. La Cava is located just off the hotel’s main lobby and is accessed via a spiral staircase flanked by candles. Ascending downwards into the depths of the Rosewood, the modern interiors give way to cold stone walls, polished concrete floors and a startling variety of wines.
We immediately feel as though we’ve been let into one of Abu Dhabi’s best kept secrets. A bar that feels intimate, exclusive and more like a cave (the name actually translates as ‘Cave’ in Spanish), dimly lit as if to accentuate the shadows cast upon the walls. We’re greeted Hassan Tazi, La Cava’s very own cellar master who takes us on an insightful tour through narrow passageways and into secret rooms.
La Cava can proudly boast of being the UAE’s only wine cellar and what a collection it has. With seemingly endless racks of specially imported wines from European destinations such as France, Spain and Italy, La Cava is without a doubt an oenophiles playground. Having very little knowledge regarding wine (other than knowing if we like the taste or not) we weren’t at all perturbed by the experience as we gazed upon thousands of glass bottles in their climate controlled casings. With a sliding wooden ladder used to access the bottles situated higher up the shelves, it felt more like a Medieval library than a collection of over 600 labels and 10,000 bottles of the worlds finest wines.
Fully embracing the atmosphere and setting, we could’ve easily believed that we were in the cellar of some far off French Chateaux as opposed to the heart of modern Abu Dhabi. Boxes of corks are stacked haphazardly and gigantic bottles of Moet line the walls. Though it was the 200 year old tasting table, carved from a single piece of walnut from California’s Napa Valley that really caught our attention.
La Cava undeniable feel of sophistication is further honed by the discovery of a private room situated behind some wooden panelling. Call it a man-cave of sorts, the private room is an ode to cognac, whiskey and 100% Cuban cigars and is the very definition of refinement. Featuring leather furnishings, bold artworks and an abundance of dark wood, it appears a fitting place for a private function or to sample La Cava’s most expensive bottles of wine, retailing at a staggering 65,000 AED!
Sipping on a far more reasonably priced 2015 Vina Sol Torres, we enjoy this Spanish white wine as we select our burgers. Monday nights at La Cava are burger and chateaux nights, meaning that your burger is paired with the wine – it really doesn’t get much better than that! For vegetarians there is the option of a portobello mushroom burger but being carnivores, we opt for the beef and chicken.
With the arrival of the food we swap to red wine in the hopes of complementing the meat and discover some very good burgers in the process. The beef is the better of the two, with the patty itself having a ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ consistency that works wonderfully with the flavours of tomato and basil. Probably the most overused phrase by food critics and bloggers alike but the only one that accurately describes the texture of this burger.
The chicken version has a pleasant fiery spice and is thankfully not breaded. Arriving with a thick gherkin and sweet potato chips, a slight disappointment when compared to the glorious thick cut fries that come alongside the beef. Both burgers are winners and you’re unlikely to be disappointed no matter which you choose.
La Cava represents an undiscovered treat in Abu Dhabi and one that’s very unique. Feeling somewhat like a crypt, we fully appreciated the knowledge of Mr. Tazi who really took the time to explain the region and vintage of our wines and ensure our utmost comfort throughout the evening.
We may not be oenophiles yet but having taken us three years to find this secluded haven, we can certainly see ourselves becoming regulars at La Cava.
We were invited to dine at La Cava. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE