Receiving an email invitation to the launch of Puesta Del Sol this week, we were slightly perplexed. How could the upmarket and picturesque Fairmont Bab Al Bahr be launching a new dining destination, when none of the current ones have closed down? Having been at the hotel for their impressive Friday Brunch just a few short weeks ago, there was no sign of construction or any new development. Have the Fairmont been able to go completely under the radar and launch a brand new restaurant without the Abu Dhabi media knowing? The answer is a mix of both yes and no.
We always have to pause when entering the lobby of Abu Dhabi’s Fairmont hotel, for it’s a beautifully realized space, one that’s bright, contemporary, full of floral arrangements and accented by flashes of silver. Housed within an ultra-modern cubic structure, the lobby gives way to a steep staircase encased with LED lights.
With little signage and the staff seemingly unaware of Puesta Del Sol’s existence, we make contacts with the director or PR and communications and are soon directed outside and onto the pristine beachfront with it’s views over Khor Al Maqta.
It is here that we realize that Puesta Del Sol (translating as ‘sunset’ in Spanish) is not an entirely new concept, having taken over the space where Pier Lounge used to be. Yet, despite occupying the same spit of land traversing the waters overlooking the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the transformation into a Latin inspired fiesta is a remarkable one.
Navigating our way towards the bar, the pathway cuts through manicured lawns that drop off into the water and it’s easy to find the way due to illuminated palm trees strung and the smell of sweet shisha. Colourful pillars of light jut skywards, like lightsabers planted in the ground, while catchy Spanish music fills the air. Passing a small BBQ area we’re uncertain if Puesta Del Sol is a restaurant or lounge? Within minutes we soon realize that it falls into the latter category.
Puesta Del Sol is a causal affair and this is evident from the lawn furniture scattered across the grassy area. The Fairmont is renowned for having a fine dining approach and it’s nice to see a fun side of the brand with the creation of a space like this. Havana Club branded bean bags are dotted around for those looking for the ultimate in lounging or why not opt for one of the beautiful cabanas set at the waters edge? With the sun setting on the horizon, it’s immeditaley evident as to why the bar was named Puesta Del Sol and as the last hues of pink are cast across the night sky, we settle in for a night of Latin infused fun.
With the cool climate finally having settled in Abu Dhabi, alfresco dining season is in full force as residents and visitors alike, look to take advantage of the (limited) cooler months. Seemingly the perfect time to launch a lounge concept like this and despite having no launch party or media coverage, Puesta Del Sol is buzzing on a Wednesday evening (hotel guests perhaps but impressive nonetheless).
Sundowners are the key and a succinct cocktail menu offers a range of signature beverages with quirky descriptions. For example, the listing for The Groggy (Dark Rum, Honey, Cinnamon and Early Grey) claims that it will “warm you up both literally and figuratively.” While the Black Eater (Bourbon, Chocolate Liquor, Pimento Dram and Espresso) reads “Wake Up! Get Up! Rise and shine for the night is still young”, a description that appears perfectly in keeping with the ingredients of the drink.
Puesta Del Sol is certainly not a fully fledged restaurant as we had expected. Instead the emphasis leans heavily towards a bar, with the addition of a few snacks and tapas style dishes. We delight in the corn nachos which arrive alongside some of the creamiest guacamole in Abu Dhabi and begin to work our way through the seafood heavy dishes that arrive sharing style to the table. Amongst a selection of garlic breads, bulbous olives, artichoke hearts, steak bites and squid. The baked mussels were the standout dish, quickly followed by the chunks of grilled octopus that have been beautifully charred on the BBQ. It should be noted that the dishes here are not prepared in the kitchen and come from a small BBQ hut located beachside – so kudos to the chefs for creating such good food with little resources (and space).
Ceviche is one of the UAE’s most popular food trends of late and features predominantly on the menu at Puesta Del Sol. Unfortmately we did find the gambas to be the weak link and were the only dish that we didn’t enjoy in terms of flavour (they didn’t have any). We didn’t get to try the desert of churros, instead opting for a shisha which was beautifully smooth and full of fruity flavours.
Launching at the ideal time of year and looking to attract a young party crowd, the Latin beats of Puesta Del Sol are likely to enamor residents of Abu Dhabi looking for somewhere lively and atmospheric to spend their evenings. Come for the drinks, the shisha and the view and we doubt you’ll be disappointed.
We were invited to dine at Puesto Del Sol. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.