There is no shortage of restaurant concepts being transported into the UAE from global capitals such as New York, Paris and London. The hopes of finding success based upon a recognised brand that has garnered a strong reputation in its homeland seems like a guaranteed win for the food and beverage industry and the arrival of Mazi Abu Dhabi certainly appears to have struck a chord with diners in the capital.
The restaurant which replaces steakhouse 55 & 5th at the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, has cleverly leveraged the trend for all things Greek that has proven unequivocally popular in Dubai in recent months and provided Abu Dhabi with a chic dining destination situated on a prime stretch of beachfront in one of the capitals most desirable destinations.
Saadiyat Island is the perfect fit for Mazi Abu Dhabi, which comes to us from husband and wife team Adrien Carré and Christina Mouratoglou who opened the original Mazi in West London in the summer of 2012. The concept takes in the full breadth of Greece and reinvents traditional dishes and flavours by incorporating a distinct contemporary streak to the food, which successfully elevates the dining experience into something altogether special.
The restaurant space has undergone a complete transformation. Shedding the dark steakhouse origins in favour of a brighter space, embracing the turquoise and white colour palette of Santorini that’s perfectly in keeping with the beachfront location. Subtle touches such as a wall of ornate wooden doors, hung golden oars and a beached wooden boat brimming with sand all help to enhance the idea of coastal chic. The new levelled terrace, complete with potted olive trees, helps to complete the picture of Mediterranea and 55 & 5th’s clunky raised seating area has been replaced with a sleek bar serving up Ouzo-based mixology, which alone makes Mazi Abu Dhabi worth a visit. Something that can’t be said about many restaurant bars in Abu Dhabi.
The name Mazi, translated from Greek as “together”, summarizes the sharing concept promoted via the restaurant’s concise menu. Dishes may be limited but the result is very much a case of quality over quantity and regular diners can expect the menu to be revamped every few months with new seasonal dishes being added frequently throughout the year.
Those in search of traditional Greek dishes may not find exactly what they’re looking for as the menu at Mazi is Greek-inspired, taking many of the classics and investing them with a contemporary twist that focuses on flavour and impressive presentation. Our meal begins with a selection of jars which include an exciting take on taramasalata (AED 35), adorning the popular fish roe mousse with lemon pearls. The grilled aubergine (AED 35) is a delight and similar to a Middle Eastern baba ghanoush. Presenting a mixture of charred aubergine, soy and thyme honey that is sweet and highly addictive. The spicy tiropita (AED 35) takes the classic Greek cheese pie and transforms it into a cheese dip into which shards of crisp filo pastry are broken. The result is a textural marvel and one of Mazi’s ‘must-order’ dishes.
In opening Mazi Abu Dhabi the culinary team has included the majority of the signature dishes which made the London location so attractive to diners. The signature feta tempura (AED 50) uses an interesting interplay between sweet and sour to enliven the palate thanks to a dollop of sweet lemon marmalade and a beautiful caper meringue which sit proudly upon the crisp golden cheese. It’s easy to see how this has become Mazi’s best-selling dish and we confess that this is perhaps one of the best dishes we have eaten in a restaurant this year.
From the hot starters, plump round courgette cakes (AED 50) are served alongside a beautifully refreshing cucumber and mint dip, while the sea bream tartare (AED 65) will please lovers of all things raw, presenting an interesting flavour profile thanks to a light avocado mousse and crispy squid ink rice puff.
The prices rise considerably with the main courses and although the grilled octopus (AED 175) is perhaps a little expensive considering the portion size, the dish is spectacular. The spiralled tentacle has been lightly charred, bringing a subtle flavour to the tender mollusc that is beautifully complemented by a garden herb potato salad and olive tapenade. The purpose of a signature dish is essentially to embody the essence of the restaurant in the best way possible and this is certainly the case with the shredded lamb shoulder stifado (AED 120) with miso aubergine. The dish represents a dish of culinary bravado full of robust flavours and complementing textures that exemplify Mazi’s modern Greek stylings.
Desserts provide all the expected favourites such as pistachio parfait, Galaktoboureko and Loukoumades. The latter, small Greek doughnuts (AED 40) are served inside a quaint wooden box into which is placed a burning lavender stem that engulfs the dessert with a fragrant aroma. The loukoumades themselves are crisp on the outside and boast a soft interior that is lighter than expected. Slathered in lavender honey, crushed walnuts and served with dark chocolate sorbet, these are the perfect way to end the meal.
Decorated as a chic Taverna, Mazi Abu Dhabi makes for a pleasing place to diner, especially with the cooler winter months approaching. Service throughout our lunch at this fine-casual concept is fairly strong but inevitably with such a new restaurant, there are a few areas that require a little more attention. Plates were not changed between courses during our visit and as much as we enjoy a soulful Motown soundtrack, it felt somewhat out of place at this particular venue.
The fresh interiors and strong culinary offering far outweigh any new-opening niggles and we’re interested to see how the venue progresses in the coming months. Mazi Abu Dhabi confidently fills a gap for Greek cuisine in the UAE capital that has been lacking from the marketplace and the current buzz surrounding the venue is one of resounding positivity.
For an a-MAZI-ng Greek dining experience in the capital, look further.
Location: St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 4pmm – midnight / 12pm – midnight (weekends)
Phone: +971 2 498 8888
Out & About UAE were guests of Mazi Abu Dhabi and all views are our own.