The world’s biggest roller-coaster restaurant, ROGO’s in Abu Dhabi is a heady dose of fun
Is it a theme park? Is it a kid’s play area? No, it’s ROGO’s, the UAE’s first roller-coaster restaurant.
Stepping into the 14,000-square-foot, two-level eatery at Yas Mall, I immediately reel from sensory overload – the restaurant’s ceiling is covered with metal tracks – including one shaped like a giant tornado – spiralling down to bring food and drinks to 30 individual tables. Bright neon lights and thumping music add to the carnival atmosphere, and I can’t help feeling that Disney would do well to license the brand for a future park.
ROGO’s, which opened in Abu Dhabi in November, was founded by the Dubai-based Lebanese entrepreneur Jessica Al Absi, who discovered the technology on a trip to Germany.
“The person who invented it had his own restaurant in Nuremberg, where he experimented with the system,” says Al Absi. “I fell in love with the concept, but thought it needed better packaging.”
Al Absi ended up purchasing the rights for 17 countries. The space in Yas Mall is her first – and flagship – location.
The menu has a staggering range of dishes – too many, I suspect. Once decisions are made and orders placed, the food is secured in specially designed containers that arrive on tables via motor-less tracks that work using gravity and are therefore silent. It’s fun placing your order on the individual hand-held tablet that connects to each seat, but if you’ve left your reading glasses at home, waiters are on hand.
While I expected standard diner fare – such as easy-to-transport sandwiches – the menu is ambitious, featuring dishes from every corner of the globe: seafood linguine, chilli con carne, crispy fried shrimp, South American fried chicken, lamb biryani, beef stroganoff, butter chicken, veal osso buco and burgers. There’s even a selection of hot soups and freshly made juices, all delivered in jars with lids tightly secured. I tried the Tornado Burger (Dh69), the restaurant’s bestseller. It was a satisfyingly simple affair with a thick beef patty, tomato, lettuce, cheese and homemade sauce. But it’s hard to concentrate on the food – or care too much about it – when all around you, meals are racing down tracks and customers are squealing in excitement.
Al Absi says she has plans to expand, but won’t reveal which city is next.
“This has been three years in the making and it’s really nice to finally see it open and operational in Abu Dhabi,” she says. “It’s been challenging and exciting and people just love the vibe.”
And although it’s hard to believe, ROGO’s delivery system has experienced just a couple of mishaps.
“We had a chocolate fondant on the menu that exploded when it went down,” says Al Absi. “The molten centre popped out of the top. We now offer a gooey chocolate cake with a melted ganache filling instead.”
• ROGO’s, on level one in Town Square at Yas Mall, is open from noon to 10pm from Sunday to Wednesday and from noon to 11pm from Thursday to Saturday. Call 02 565 0888
Updated: March 25, 2015 04:00 AM