Stepping into Blu Sky Lounge & Grill at Abu Dhabi’s Southern Sun hotel is like taking a trip to the future. Bathed in florescent hues of blue, we couldn’t help but feel as though we had been sucked into the virtual reality world of the 1982 Jeff Bridges movie ‘Tron.‘ Blu Sky is Abu Dhabi’s newest sports bar having launched in January this year and is fast gaining a reputation as one of the hottest night spots in the capital.
Don’t be alarmed though, for Blu Sky is more than just a lads hang out. The space here has been utilised so as to feel inviting to everyone, no matter wether your preference is for watching the sporting action, having a drink with friends, or looking for somewhere for a casual dinner. Blu Sky is accommodating to all.
Approaching the bar area, the science fiction vibe continues, and the sleek curved bar feels more like the control panel on the Starship Enterprise than a place to purchase your favourite beverage. Video screens flash with imagery as reflections form the glass liquor bottles, twinkle under the bright overhead lighting.
Now enough with the movie analogies, Blu Sky Lounge & Grill is a modern space with a very contemporary decor. The walls are understandably Blue (in keeping with the name), while all furniture is a dazzling bright white, enhanced by the luminescence of the black lights used throughout the venue. Hexagonal discs lie on the floor adjacent to the bar, looking like some kind of teleportation machine.
Friendliness was our first impression upon entering the bar, as we were greeted by all the waiters and bar staff that we encountered. Thinking this would be a beer and wine kind of establishment we couldn’t have been more wrong, as we were welcomed with the Blu Sky Martini, the bars signature drink. The beverage is served inside test tube and should be consumed as you would a shot, the presentation though is what makes this drink special, located within a chamber of smoking dry ice, the theatrics alone are worth the order.
The inventive drinks don’t stop there though as the bar staff have taken traditional cocktails and infused them with a Blu Sky Twist. Mojitos are made with a combination of vodka, as opposed to the standard rum base and head bartender Oscar was happy to demonstrate his mixology skills. Creation the ‘citizen’, an enticing blend of elderflower, blackberry, sage and French lemon juice. Tantalising in conception, with a striking purple colouration.
The cocktails alone make it obvious that Blu Sky Lounge & Grill is cleverly playing to a larger market than just male sports fans (sorry for the stereotype guys). The team behind the bar are looking to welcome everyone, wether you want to watch sports with the lads, sip cocktails with the girls (Wednesday is Ladies Night with complimentary drinks for ladies from 8pm), or dance the night away with resident DJ Chris Delaney. Meanwhile for those looking for something extra special, there is a private VIP room with its own screens, that is suprisingly luxurious for a sports bar.
What we especially liked about Blu Sky was that it was purposefully trying to be different from the usual sports bar stereotype and to elevate itself as a more desirable place to watch your favourite football, basketball and cricket matches. Despite the slight upmarket vibe, there is no doubt that this is a casual venue and that is something that we really do appreciate. Having the ability to go out for a drink and a bite to eat, without having to get dressed up, is very refreshing and provides a stark contrast to the exclusive UAE nightlife scene. Personally, a place to kick it with friends within comfortable surroundings gets a big tick in our book.
The reason we were at the Southern Sun Hotel for the second time in three days (see our review of sushi night at Kahraman) was for a Zomato Meetup. Now these Zomato events are always great fun and an opportunity to socialise with like minded foodies and bloggers, it is also an oppurtunity for the venue to showcase their culinary expertise to some potentially very harsh critics.
Being a sports bar, we were expected the standard pub grub of burgers, fish and chips etc. Blu Sky has a ventured off onto a slightly different tangent, providing more of a gastropub feel to their menu. The sporting theme continues as main courses are referred to as ‘play offs’ and the dessert course as the ‘grand finale.’ The sports theme is more than just a wordplay and all condiments are presented in nifty sporting holders – from a set of rugby goal posts to a basketball net – even the nuts can be found in hollowed out footballs.
As is always the way of the Zomato Meetup, there was almost too much food to handle. With a dazzling array of starters comprising torpedo shrimps, deliciously sweet chicken wings, breaded calamari rings, a delightful beef salad with a hint of blue cheese, hummus, Canadian style poutine (a difficult dish to find in the UAE) and stilton mushroom bruschetta.
We thoroughly enjoyed the bruschetta with its earthy flavour of mushroom and enhanced with the glorious addition of truffle oil. The lightly battered prawns were beautifully crisp, while chicken wings were slathered in a rich and zesty barbecue sauce. With trays of food continually being passed around the invited guests, we were unsure if we would have any room for the main course.
All the food at Blu Sky comes in ginormous protons, presumably in an effort to soak up the excessive alcohol consumption of an establishment such as this. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the menu was varied and contained more than just the standard fried fare, delving deeper into worldwide favourites.
Main courses included a selection of mini club sandwiches, caprese panini (a favourite of ours), bull slider burger, beer battered fish and chips, sausage and mash and steak and stilton pie. Lots of British favourites were evident and we were especially enamoured with the hand battered cod goujons from the fish and chips dish and the tasty meat of the steak pie. We found the bangers and mash to be a little disappointing, though more for the fact that the standard pork sausage has been replaced by Turkey (understandably). With the excessive amount of food we didn’t get to sample the other items, probably because we were talking to much…
The food at Blu Sky easily surpassed our expectations and the quirky presentation in frying pans and mini shopping trollies adds an additional sense of fun to the dining experience here. Most importantly, the service is friendly and the staff are very chatty, making you feel at home. After a while it did start to remind us of the television series ‘Cheers,’ where “everyone knows your name” and that can only be a good thing!
Squeezing in room for dessert, there were cheesecakes, brownies, mini able tarts, trifle and lemon meringue pie – again sticking with a distinctly British vibe. Trifle can never be as good as the one that your mum makes at Christmas, though this one was passable. The lemon meringue pie and the dainty pots of cheesecake own the other hand, were pretty darn good.
Did we mention that Blu Sky Lounge has the longest happy hour in Abu Dhabi? That’s right, twelve hours or unrestricted drinking, (from 3pm – 3am) with prices starting from as little as 18 AED. So why not pull up a stool and with the European Championships just around the corner, watch all the footballing action in air conditioned comfort, upon multiple screens. If you’re looking for personality and sophistication, then look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for somewhere lively to chill with some reasonably priced drinks, then Blu Sky is most definitely the place for you.
In addition to Blu Sky Lounge, The Southern Sun Hotel has just launched their Ramadan Tent. As exquisite space for Suhour, a la carte dining, or Arabesque shisha. Embrace the spirit of the Holy month from sunset to 2:00am all the way through to 30th September 2016. We have sampled the shisha here and can vouch for it’s quality.
Location: Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Mina Street, Tourist Club Area, Abu Dhabi
Hours: 3:00pm – 3:00am
Phone: 02 418 2581
We were invited to this event but all views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated. Two interior photos used courtesy of Blu Sky Lounge and Southern Sun Hotels.
Read more from Out & About UAE at the Southern Sun Hotel: Monday Night Sushi At Kahraman