Confident, solid cooking and a well-informed staff make the Park Bar and Grill a hugely welcome addition to the Abu Dhabi dining scene.
Smart and simple at the Park Bar and Grill
Sometimes the simple things are the ones that impress the most. The Park Bar and Grill, the signature restaurant at the elegant Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, seems to have adapted this approach with its menu and the food is all the better for it.
The restaurant has been designed in an understated fashion, all fawn and shades of muted brown. While the overall effect is a luxe, tasteful one, it is rather conservative. The refreshingly fuss-free menu showcases seafood and grilled meat, served with either classic accompaniments or an Asian slant.
The chicken and foie gras terrine that we had as one of our starters was the only dud dish of the whole meal, so I'll get that one out of the way first. The food here is generously portioned, but in the case of the foie gras, this proved to be its downfall. The large slab of terrine was fridge-cold, which made it difficult to spread and meant that apart from tasting extremely rich, you couldn't really make out any other flavour. This wasn't helped by the fact that the currant coulis served alongside it was very sugary: if there had been a bit of acidity or bite to it - something to temper the fattiness of the foie gras - it would have worked much better.
Moving on though, the other starter of Alaskan crab cakes was very good. The cakes were crisp, crunchy and light brown on the outside, dense, meaty and slightly chewy in the centre. They contained plenty of crab, we could taste lemon grass and chilli in the mix, the sweet and sour dressing had a kick to it and a little pile of Asian salad leaves were fresh and crunchy.
The grilled baby chicken that I chose for my main course had perfectly golden skin, which bore the faint hallmarks of the charcoal grill. The impressively tender meat was infused with lemony flavour and the dressed rocket served on the side was full of life. It was an unapologetically simple dish, done well.
Side dishes were served in silver pans and were similarly good. The mash was suitably smooth and buttery, but not so much so that we worried for our arteries. French peas were excellent, veal bacon added a smoky depth of flavour, braised lettuce lent a certain sweetness and silverskin onions provided little pops of acidity.
My friend chose the orange-spotted Trevally served with Thai basil, tamarind and palm sugar and was also very happy. The large tranche of local, sustainable fish (big tick) was moist and the sauce was filled with sweet, sour, salty flavour. A side order of sautéed spinach with shimeji mushrooms rounded the dish off nicely.
The dessert list features a selection of classic French sweets: choux pastry with chocolate sauce, macaroons and crème brûlée among them. Intrigued by the sound of it and after our very helpful waitress explained a little more, my friend opted for the one Asian-inspired option: sago pudding with pomelo and coconut soup. Thanks to the pearls of sago, this was a creamy, comforting dessert, almost rice pudding-like in texture.
My vanilla crème brûlée was delicate, sweet without being sickly and featured a wonderfully thin layer of caramelised sugar, which shattered pleasingly when I tapped it with my spoon. With its confident, solid cooking and well-informed staff, The Park Bar and Grill makes a hugely welcome addition to the Abu Dhabi dining scene and is a restaurant that I will certainly return to.
A meal for two at The Park Bar and Grill, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, costs Dh667 not including service. For reservations call 02 407 1234. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and reviews are conducted incognito