As the only revolving lounge in Abu Dhabi, Stratos at the Le Royal Meridien has quite the reputation to match it’s stratospheric name. Perched at the very top of the hotel, the circular restaurant bucks the trend when it comes to gimmick-led revolving restaurants, instead presenting a sophisticated space for dinner and drinks in the heart of downtown.
Having first arrived in the UAE in 2013 we can vividly remember Stratos as THE place to see and be seen. Admittedly, it’s been a number of years since we last visited but the arrival of a new menu brings Stratos back onto our radar after a five year absence.
Exiting the elevator on the 26th floor we immediately regret having been away for so long as the views are rather impressive, even for long term residents of the city! Passing through the bar area that forms the crux of the restaurant, we are soon seated in a comfortable leather backed chair and greeted with genuine warmth by new restaurant manager Shane.
With each revolution of the restaurant taking approximately 90 minutes we’re able to experience a 360 degree view of the UAE capital as we dine. Moving from the waters of the corniche dotted with wooden dhow boats, through the busy intersections of downtown, past the new CBD of Al Maryah and our home in Reem Island, before culminating in the illuminated canopy of Abu Dhabi’s newest cultural attraction, The Louvre. Because the restaurant rotates at such a leisurely pace, diners will barely notice the ‘spin’ (so those with motion sickness need not worry)! That is unless you leave your possessions on the table-side ledge, where you might notice your bag/phone slowly inching away.
While the menu has always been international, it’s easiest to categorize Stratos as a steakhouse due to the sheer amount of grills offered. A number of promotions such as ladies night and a ‘love in motion’ set menu result in an unexpectedly busy Tuesday night when we dine and a refreshing rarity in a city of often-empty restaurants!
We begin with a generous portion of Seared Scallops (AED 135) served upon a swathe of smoky Romesco sauce and topped with beef bresaola and a Taleggio crisp. The result is a dish full of complementing textures, though it’s the tomato based Romesco which helps to bring depth to the perfectly cooked shellfish. The Seared Tuna (AED 78) is another interesting choic, prepared with a delightful charred corn salad and olive cracker. Though two weeks later we are still undecided about the avocado pudding. The fish is prepared well but doesn’t quite reach the heady heights of the Aji Tuna steak served at Market Kitchen 26 floors below – perhaps Chef Martinez should share his recipe.
Conveniently, we rotate past the open kitchen just as our main courses are served. Amongst the choices of miso eggplant, braised short ribs and confit duck we are most excited to discover a varied selection of beef cuts, some of which are unavailable elsewhere in the city, including the rump cap and the flank steak. We order the latter. A sharing portion that two of us struggle to finish (AED 355), despite the inevitable quality. The meat is rubbed in paprika and cooked sous-vide so as to remain remarkably tender. Sides of thick cuts chips, creamed spinach and lobster mac and cheese also impress, though the lobster is a little scarce.
The Grilled Seabass (AED 165) served with freekeh salad, micro greens and a saffron aioli which zig-zags across the plate like a lightening bolt, help bring a touch of the Middle East to the eclectic menu which takes influence from Asia, Europe and the Americas in its cuisine. The dish helps to reiterate Stratos’ new menu which has been re-tooled to offer value for money and reflects a worthwhile dining experience.
Having been defeated by the flank steak we wisely decided to split dessert though the options are fairly interesting and include Baked Alaska, Lemon Posset and a Kaffir Lime Creme Brulee. The Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart (AED 42) however has our full attention, with its thick biscuit base filled with chocolate ganache, chocolate Chantilly and accompanied by a white chocolate sorbet which maintains the artistic plating displayed throughout the meal.
Much like our recent visit to Market Kitchen, it’s exciting to see a new F&B team reviving a venue which once represented the peak of Abu Dhabi dining with its afternoon tea courtesy of celebrity chef Eric Lanlard. As a special occasion restaurant Stratos ticks many boxes when it comes to atmosphere, food and drinks but we’re left a little confounded by the service which is painfully slow on the busy night we visit and lacks the panache with which we usually associated this particular hotel. Thankfully the energetic Motown soundtrack makes up for some of the pacing issues and we’re happy to see Stratos making strides towards regaining its former glory.
Out & About UAE were guests of Stratos. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.
The Verdict: Stratos
Stratos continues to impress with its revolving dining room. The arrival of a new menu certainly helps to enliven the restaurant and the views are impressive but things are hindered by slow service.