There’s something distinctly appealing about a restaurant that puts simplicity at the core. Whether that be in the unrestrained nature of the dining environment, or the emphasis on a concise menu, allowing for quality dishes with absolutely no filler. This is exactly how we felt during our recent dining experience at The Forge situated within the grandiose Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi.
Passing through the sweeping lobby and down an impressive staircase the elegance of the communal areas segue perfectly into the intimate confines of upmarket steakhouse The Forge. Passing over a cow hide rug (this is a steakhouse after all) we’re met with a restaurant space that’s both intimate and seductive, heightened by a sleek bar and large wine chillers with the bottles arranged in the formation of the letter ‘F.’ As if to say, this is The Forge, let it be known.
A compact dining room makes for a welcome relief, with so many restaurants in the city opting for a ‘go big or go home approach’, The Forge feels more restrained, more confident and perhaps a little classier than the norm. The compact layout brings an advantage, allowing for a number of private dining rooms hidden amongst the wine racks.
The dining experience is anchored around an open show-kitchen which represents a hub of activity when we visit. Mexican Sous-Chef de cuisine Marcos García Rodríguez and his team work tirelessly on a menu that is refreshingly succinct and while the surroundings are not necessarily what you’d expect from a steakhouse (it’s less masculine and far more elegant), neither is the menu.
Without oysters or a beef tartare in sight, we thoroughly enjoy the tuna ceviche. Plating together layers of tuna, apple, fennel and mango which culminates in a tropical take on the traditional Peruvian dish. Coated in an orange and passion fruit dressing, this particular ceviche strikes a fine balance between the zest of the citrus fruit and the acidity of the tomatoes, while managing to maintain the delicate flavour of the tuna. A vibrant dish that’s colourful in both presentation and flavour.
The signature crab cake also impresses and is served piping hot. Lightly fried, the construction of the cake is predominantly made up of crab meat (a rarity considering many iterations of the dish are bulked out with too much potato). Here, the delicate flavour of the crab is front and centre, while the inclusion of lime mayo and a tomato relish adds a pleasing touch. A sun-kissed surprise, playing beautifully against the flavours of the sea.
While the very name of the restaurant relates to the forging of a metal objects within a furnace, this notion is displayed perfectly in the streak knife selection. Presented in a wooden box, diners are asked to select their ‘weapon of choice’ from a variety of blades which include handles made from oak, walnut and bone. There is no correct choice, but the idea adds a nice bit of interplay between diners and the food.
With steaks from across the globe, the breeds selected for inclusion at The Forge hail from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Ireland and the selection of cuts is particularly pleasing. We select the Australian Wagyu tenderloin (marbling rating 7+) and the Australian master Kobe (marbling rating 9+) with both steaks cooked to our requested medium rare and presented on sleek black slates inlaid into wooden chopping boards to keep with the butchery theme. Both steaks are beautifully tender and bursting with flavour to a point where the accompanying sauces are rendered entirely unnecessary. We would strongly recommend adding a little decadence to the meal by via a lobster tail or slither of foie gras.
If steak isn’t your thing, The Forge also offers a selection of dishes from ‘the farm’ (corn fed baby chicken, veal chop and lamb chops) and ‘the sea’ (seabass, Scottish salmon, Omani lobster and jumbo tiger prawns.
Never able to resist dessert, The Forge offers only four options with passionfruit again making an appearance in a twist on the traditional tiramisu. Despite the appeal of the dulce de leche cheesecake and coconut Napolean, we opt for the simplistic chocolate brownie which arrives as a sharing portion that even two people will likely fail to conquer.
Abu Dhabi has so many high quality steakhouses vying for the attention of diners, but The Forge does things a little differently. Moving away from many steakhouse classics, in favour of superfoods (quinoa salad) and more obscure choices (veal belly) allows The Forge to stand out and with many of the dishes showing some of Chef Rodríguez’s Latin influence, there isn’t another steakhouse quite like this in town. Paired with a dining room that encourages guests to linger, The Forge is ideal for a date night or a special occasion dinner.
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of FACT Magazine.
Location: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 7pm – 11pm
Phone: 02 818 8282
Out & About UAE were guests of The Forge. All views are our own and photographs are © Out & About UAE.