Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
The Forge steakhouse has the ambience of an upmarket New York brasserie. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton
The Forge steakhouse has the ambience of an upmarket New York brasserie. Courtesy Ritz-Carlton

Abu Dhabi's Forge offers choice cuts – to a point

At the new steakhouse The Forge, the food is beautifully presented and masterfully executed but the service needs to be addressed.

Any newcomer in the capital's steakhouse scene is going to be up against some seriously tough opposition.

As well as having to battle the surly super-chef Marco Pierre White's eponymous venture at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, there are also the outstanding Rodeo Grill and Blue Grill at the capital's Rotana hotels.

So The Forge, which has recently opened at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, is attempting to muscle in on an already stellar collection of diners.

Its prospects are given a boost by the impressive decor. It's all dark woods, dim lighting and coloured-glass walls, creating the ambience of an upmarket New York brasserie.

And the food is equally pleasing, with the majority of dishes we chose being both beautifully presented and masterfully executed.

Even the free soda bread deserves special mention. Served piping hot with a crunchy exterior and soft centre, it's a momentous struggle not to fill up on it even before you've begun your meal.

Just about managing to resist gorging out, I plumped for the crab cake for a starter. This disc of white crab came with a dash of salsa sauce and was doused with black olive powder. It was an effective opening gambit.

The creamy, Parmesan-covered Caesar salad my dining companion went for was also excellent.

For a main, you could opt for the exorbitantly priced Wow Burger, which comes with pan-fried duck liver, truffle sauce and mushroom compote. A selection of seafood is also available. But why visit a steakhouse without ordering steak?

Just before our meals arrived, the waiter presented us with a tray of dagger-like knives from which we chose the implements to dissect our dishes. While it's somewhat gimmicky, it's kind of fun to mull over whether one prefers an oak or walnut-handled blade.

Resisting the lure of the Wagyu beef, I opted for the Australian sirloin and was delivered a dense, rich piece of meat cooked with care and precision.

After one bite of my friend's Argentinian tenderloin, however, I was jealous. This hunk of marbled meat with a slightly soft centre was so succulent it almost melted in the mouth.

The towering pile of deep-fried onion rings and the plate of crisp asparagus we chose as our sides were also worth saving stomach space for.

Even contemplating a dessert after such a feast took some serious willpower. Nevertheless, we managed to squeeze in a few bites of New York cheesecake. With its light cream and crisp, crumb base, we didn't regret the decision.

While the food was exemplary, we were frustrated with the standard of service. Often, the waiters were inattentive at best, invisible at worst. In fact, some of them seemed to have been practising the art of avoiding eye contact with diners, leaving us waiting for an eternity for service.

Since dishes are notably pricey - steaks start at Dh180 and quickly rise to the mid-Dh300s - these glitches urgently need addressing.

It's still early days at The Forge, so one hopes they're just temporary growing pains.

But because of these glitches, at present the restaurant just misses out on entering the ranks of great UAE steakhouses. With a few minor tweaks and a moderate dressing down for the waiting staff, a rapid promotion could well be on the cards.

A meal for two at The Forge costs Dh657, including service. For reservations, call 02 818 8888. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and reviews are conducted incognito

hberger@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Thoughtful tailoring at Asudari

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes.

Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

Designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry and artillery. Indeed, pistols, grenades and guns were emblazoned over jackets and dresses.

 Several of Jo Baaklini's pieces featured fruit prints. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: At Starch, watermelon shirts, anyone?

“We need to cultivate our own fashion heroes — our own regional brands,” stressed Fashion Forward’s honcho Bong Guerrero in a press con two weeks ago.

Aptly, the slot for this season’s opening runway show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Mr Baaklini had a stronger showing.

 Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Jean Louis Sabaji’s debatable debut

Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down — like the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece, the floral crop top, and the radiant yellow pleated skirt.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons, and a yellow dress reminiscent of Bjork’s infamous Oscars swan dress — several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

 Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all.” Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Kage pleases all palates

Did the designers of Kage aim to showcase every type of basic clothing on their latest show?

Because there were skirts, shorts, trousers, off-shoulder tops, short dresses, cocktail dresses, long flowy dresses, spaghetti straps, jackets, hoods — and even pyjamas, which with the incoming summer heat, looked especially appealing.

Launched in 2009 by childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage bills itself as a label whose “ultimate goal is to design a collection appealing to all”, they said in their statement.

 The standout was a grey hooded cape that created a tension between edge and elegance. Courtesy Getty Images

Fashion Forward: Polish, craft (and fur!) at The Emperor 1688

The best show of Day 1 at Fashion Forward was delivered by the three Golkar brothers behind The Emperor 1688.

The coats and capes were the clear winners: they came in all sorts of interesting colours and sizes — and featured exceptionally tailored proportions. There was a lot of volume, but also stiffness.

And whimsy: two favourites were a green double-breasted suit and a blue overcoat with a red clover pattern and gold buttons.

 Midway through Ezra's show, snow started falling from the ceiling. Ian Gavan / Getty Images for Fashion Forward

Fashion Forward: Ezra stuns in snow-covered show

Turns out the Filipino designer Ezra, known for his dreamy couture, still had a few surprises up his sleeve.

Midway through his show, snow started falling from the ceiling.

It created a starkly beautiful atmosphere for his intricately constructed gowns that seemed to be designed for an Ice Queen transported back to the 1950s.

He showed a collection that had a lot of technical firepower behind it: glittering iridescent fabrics paired with head and neckpieces that were moulded and stiffened to stand out in odd angles.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National