Top culinary gems in Abu Dhabi

Schenelle Dsouza
Travelling to any new city, in itself, is always an exciting endeavour. Trying out local restaurants in a new city is often the highlight of a trip. Abu Dhabi has a lot much to offer in terms of leisure, especially Yas Island, also known as Abu Dhabi’s leisure island. Apart from striking landscapes and exciting tourist spots, it has some of the best culinary experiences.
Here are four of the best restaurants that you must visit when in Abu Dhabi.
Beirut Sur Mer 
Beirut Sur Mer
Photo Courtesy: Beirut Sur Mer
Beirut Sur Mer is a stunning beachside restaurant located in Mamsha Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island. The restaurant has one of the most instagrammable spots with bright coloured interiors, vibrant decor and an overall exciting vibe. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. While the outdoors is inexplicably stunning with the perfect beach view, it is probably best to sit here during the evenings in summer.
Beirut Sur Mer
Photo Courtesy: Beirut Sur Mer
The indoor area, on the other hand, is dreamy and aesthetic with a vibrant colour palette featuring shades of pink and blue. What’s more? The entire space is decorated with floral motifs; right from the floral wallpaper to the exotic hanging from the ceiling and over the bar area. Pick any corner of the restaurant and you won’t be sorry.
Beirut Sur Mer
Phot Courtesy: Beirut Sur Mer
The menu at Beirut Sur Mer is a Lebanese food Lover’s Dream. Bringing in the best of Levant, the menu includes hearty breakfast dishes, delicious mezzes (both hot and cold) and desserts. The cold mezze section includes fresh salads, dips and spreads while the hot mezzes include slightly heavier portions with lamb, chicken and vegetable offerings.  End the meal on a sweet note with a selection of desserts including Middle Eastern favourites like Kunafa and Muhalabiyeh and a generous platter of fresh fruit.
Must try:
Fattouch B Debes Rouman – a vegetable salad with olive oil, molasses and nuts
Hummus Beirut Sur Mer – a chickpea spread made with citrus, crab and avocado, pickled apricot salsa, zaatar and onion crisps
Basha Bel Kara – grilled Kafta and cherry chutney salsa with nutted Arabic bread
Jawaneh Dajaj – churrasco chicken wings with coriander, garlic and lime juice
Kunafa – baked cheese pudding with sugar syrup, pashmak and pistachio rolled ashta
Cyan Brasserie
Cyan Brasserie is popular for three reasons – French food, incredible ambience and spectacular views. It sits on the 18th floor of Andaz Capital Gate which holds a Guinness World Record for being the farthest leaning tower in the world. That’s right Andaz Capital has an 18-degree inclination, which is 12.5 degrees more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Cyan Brasserie
Photo Courtesy: Cyan Brasserie
A modern brasserie, Cyan has a beautiful tropical blue-green theme. This was not incidental and very well thought of. The name ‘Cyan’ comes from French; it is a colour that lies in the middle of blue and green. The highlight of the restaurant, however, is the spectacular view of the city thanks to the glass-windowed wall.
Cyan Brasserie
Photo Courtesy: Cyan Brasserie
Cyan captures and links the essence of both French and Levantine cultures; combining French-rooted cuisine with the rich and hospitable culture of the Middle East. The restaurant offers two and three course menus with starters, main course and dessert.
Must try:
Goat cheese salad with salt baked beetroot and pistachio
Moroccan pumpkin dip with feta cheese, duqqa, pita bread
Pan roasted seabream with roasted zucchini and tzatziki
French wild mushrooms lasagna
Chocolate tart with whipped vanilla cream and caramelized nuts
Apricot made with white chocolate ganache, camomile syrup, mint
Garage
Garage
Photo Courtesy: W Abu Dhabi
Located inside the prestigious W Abu Dhabi, Garage offers a quintessential dining experience coupled with striking decor and a relaxing vibe. Sports enthusiasts will love this; the restaurant extends onto a terrace that overlooks the Yas Marina Circuit Formula One track. The terrace is still and quiet on most days, and is the perfect spot to grab a drink. The interiors of the restaurant are vibrant with plenty of eclectic decor. Hanging greens, colourful chairs and eccentric seating, patterned walls and colourful carpets enveloped the space.
One of the best spots for brunch in Abu Dhabi, Garage offers a unique, multi-experience menu that is divided into five mini-outlets – Meat Vault, Nikkei House, Mezza Bar, Tart Van, Steam Table and Tap Wall.
Meat Vault is for elite meat lovers everywhere. The section includes some of the finest cuts that are preserved and matured until perfection. Steam Table is a fusion of big, bold street food flavours. Creating a sensorial experience of enticing aromas, the section provides mouth-watering steamed and stir-fried delicacies will that are a true representation of Asian flavours.
Garage
Photo Courtesy: W Abu Dhabi
A celebration of the colourful history of Peruvian flavour Nikkei House offers a cultural fusion of flavours. Think splashes of spice, texture, and heritage. Here you can find delicious ceviche, salmon and tempura. Mezza Bar is for those who want to enjoy some of the best and most authentic Levantine flavours. It combines traditional flavours, serving delicacies like Hummus, Baba Ganoush and Moutabel.
And finally the Tart Van, a place of indulgence and decadence. Here you can expect a selection of rich fruity tarts among other confections that are a perfect close to the meal.
Must try: 
Tabouleh with parsley, bulgur, lemon juice and tomatoes
Ceviche de Hongos with shimeji and button mushrooms, charred asparagus and mango
Flank Steak with honey roast carrots, skin on sweet potato & chimichurri mayo
Banana tart with chocolate ganache, almond cream and dulce de leche
Mezlai 
Photo Courtesy: Mandarin Oriental
Saving the best for last, Mezlai should be on everyone’s list of places to dine in Abu Dhabi. Located inside the opulent Emirates Palace Hotel, Mezlai is regarded as a window into Arabic culture; a visual representation of true Arabian hospitality with the best of Middle Eastern offerings.
Reflecting the beauty of Arabic design, Mezlai was designed to mirror an airy Bedouin tent with a warm ambience defines by rich woodwork, intricate chandelier lighting and deep hues. The award-winning Emirati restaurant homage to Abu Dhabi with its decor steeped in the heritage and geography of the UAE.
Mezlai
Photo Courtesy: Mandarin Oriental
Surrounded by the traditional atmosphere diners are treated like royalty, courtesy of the warm Middle Eastern hospitality. The restaurant offers set vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus with only the most authentic Emirati cuisine, which gets a Middle Eastern touch to accommodate the multicultural atmosphere.

 

In planning its menu, Mezlai is said to have created dishes with ingredients derived from the sea, mountains, oases and deserts in the region. The menu features decadent updates on staples of the Arabian diet accenting expected ingredients, such as za’atar, camel and dates, and introducing the unexpected flavours of saffron, rosewater and hand-picked wild oregano.
Mezlai
Mezlai
Like most restaurants in the city, Mezlai too divides its menu into hot and cold mezzes with salads, hummus, dips and kebabs. Meat being the most popular selection in traditional Emirati cuisine makes multiple appearances on the menu, with a preference to lamb and mutton, with a few options including goat and beef. The non-vegetarian main course includes a kebab platter with scrumptious selections of mixed kebabs, while the vegetarian menu includes options with rice. While at the Emirates Palace Hotel, you cannot miss the iconic 23K gold flake cappuccino made with camel milk.
Photo Courtesy: Mandarin Oriental
Must try: 
Mutable with grilled eggplant and sesame paste with lemon juice and garlic
Labneh with with garlic and dry mint
Fried Kebbeh made from friend minced Beef with crushed wheat and pine seeds
Cheese Sambusek fried dough stuffed with feta and akkawi cheese
Mixed Grill with Shish Kebab, Shish Taouk, Kofta Kebabservedwith garlic sauce, grilled tomato and onion
Warm mixed baklawa
You may also like:
Dining at Karan Johar’s new restaurant – Neuma
Mango special savoury menus to try in Delhi and Mumbai