In just a few short months Abu Dhabi’s newest dining enclave, Marsa Al Bateen has been inundated with diners looking to embrace the UAE’s popular cafe culture along its picturesque waterfront promenade. The modernised wharf in one of Abu Dhabi’s oldest inhabited neighbourhoods, is already home to a number of cafes and casual dining concepts, proving popular with young families and local residents.
The arrival of The Coffee Club seems fitting for the location. A brand with over 360 stores in destinations and have proved meticulous in their locations choices in the capital. Operating the only F&B outlet at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and a flagship store at Abu Dhabi’s premier retail destination, Yas Mall.
We’ve always found The Coffee Club to have strong marketing, constantly pushing glossy images of appealing dishes that encapsulate everything from festive coffees to breakfast specials. Our past experiences with The Coffee Club have been decidedly hit and miss, but with this new store, comes a new menu, looking set to shake up the reputation of this Australian brand.
The Coffee Club is renowned for its slogan #WhereWillIMeetYou which can be found plastered across all collateral and even upon the bare brick walls of the store in a striking bold font. The phrase is representative of the heart of a brand looking to create a social space where people can relax and unwind with good food and even better coffee.
Australia, a country known for Nicole Kidman, koalas and kangaroos has also made quite an imprint on the worlds cafe culture. We distinctly remeber the hype surrounding the arrival of the flat white (AED 18) on the UK cafe scene around a decade ago. Invited in Sydney in the mid-80s, it’s an espresso based beverage topped with a velvety foam (somewhere between the consistency of a latte and a cappuccino) that allows the flavours of the coffee to take prominence. This Australian creation is the first thing we order at The Coffee Club and arrives exactly as expected, with a microfoam of glossy milk that acts as a support to the bold flavour of the UTZ (sustainably produced) coffee.
The menu at The Coffee Club offers little in the way of surprises but covers all bases with a varied choice of breakfast dishes and main courses, We appreciate anywhere that serves breakfast all day and dive straight into The Big Breakfast. A generously sized plate of Cumberland sausages, veal bacon, eggs, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms and ciabatta bread. Again quality is promoted, via the use of organically certified eggs (meaning free-range hens, fed on 100% organic foods).
Aside from a variety of eggs (Benedict, omelettes, scrambled or poached), we actually appreciated the fact that The Coffee Club occasionally does things a little differently. From the Arabic-styled Labneh Eggs to Red Velvet Pancakes, these are examples of items that will work as a USP for The Coffee Club and differentiate them from their countless competitors. We order the Red Velvet Pancakes but find them to be a little on the dense side. The colouration is certainly unique but is all they really offer. For Red Velvet is basically the red colouring with a hint chocolate and without the frosting that would accompany a red velvet cupcake, the dish falls a little flat.
It’s no secret that we have preferences for certain breakfast items, mainly granola and French Toast, so we gleefully order the latter, of which two varieties are available, The Cinnamon French Toast comprises thick ‘slabs’ of sweet brioche coated in cinnamon infused ricotta, fresh berries and lashings of caramel sauce. It’s as good a French toast as you’re going to get in Abu Dhabi and would be our recommended order.
Dining mid-morning, our menu choices reflected the best of breakfast and lunch, so the Pomegranate and Date Salad (an attempt to be healthy) seemed fitting. A filling rocket based salad enhanced by the distinctly Arabesque ingredients of feta cheese, walnuts, fresh dates and pomegranate pearls. A salad we thoroughly enjoyed, though the dressing was a little overpowering.
Enamored by the idea of a Beetroot and Goats Cheese Burger, we liked the ingredients list but unfortunately the dish didn’t quite come together as a whole. Proving both problematic to eat and a little on the dry side. Perhaps there’s a reason why we haven’t had butternut, beetroot and goats cheese outside of a salad before!
Another Australian craze taking the food world by storm are freak shakes (#DiabetesInAJar). An instant social media hit, these monster milkshakes come piled high with everything from donuts and whipped cream, to slices of pie, candy canes and numerous scoops of ice cream. The freak shake originated at Pattisez, a cafe in Canberra in 2015, before making their mark on the UAE dining scene a year later.
Here at The Coffee Club they’re referred to as Loaded Shakes and come in three flavours – chocolate, raspberry and caramel. We’ve had our fair share of freak shakes since starting this blog (see our reviews of The Black Lion or Fume) and found the ones at The Coffee Club to be less extravagent and more manageable than their counterparts. Opting for the chocolate shake, it arrives loaded with cream, brownie chunks and with chocolate sauce seductivley dripping down the exterior of the glass. In terms of flavour, it’s not as sweet as expected (a good thing) and is well constructed, for too often a freak shake will collapse as soon as you attempt to drink/eat it.
The Coffee Club does just enough to diferentiate itself from the endless outlets of Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero that litter Abu Dhabi. Promoting a more social vibe, the service feels more personal and each store has it’s own design and fit-out. In this case, a huge living wall of lush green foliage that feels as though the outdoors has been brought inside. With 30 million annual customers worldwide The Coffee Club is certainly doing something right but we fear they have a lot of competition on their hands with the arrival of South Africa Tasha’s in the same developemnt.
We were invited to dine at The Coffee Club. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE.