x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

The 10 new places in Abu Dhabi you have to eat at

If you like to eat, Abu Dhabi is an exciting place to be right now. So far 2013 has seen an unprecedented number of eateries opening. Here are 10 we can highly recommend.

Galleria's Emporio Armani Caffe. Courtesy Al Tayer group
Galleria's Emporio Armani Caffe. Courtesy Al Tayer group

Rhodes 44

It’s hard not to have raised expectations when visiting a celebrity chef’s restaurant. And often these hopes fall faster than a failed soufflé. This was not the case when we visited Rhodes 44 in the new St. Regis — the latest offering by chef Gary Rhodes. The food was outstanding. The beetroot and goat cheese with citrus was divine and the pea risotto with scallops was creamy and comforting. The space is bright and cheerful, but it was a lonely affair. So many tables and so few patrons. www.stregisabudhabi.com +971 2 694 4553 *Laura Koot

Villa Toscana

This Italian joint is the real deal. The flavours of Tuscany are served up on sturdy wooden tables by a well-informed and extra hospitable staff. The traditional look, feel and tastes has drawn a crowd since the restaurant in the new St. Regis opened. The octopus antipasta melts in the mouth, the home-made pasta is prepared to perfection, and the fish dishes have become popular for good reason. www.stregisabudhabi.com +971 2 694 4553 *Laura Koot

Magnolia Bakery, The Galleria

Over a weekend lunch, I bumped into at least three Abu Dhabians I hadn’t seen in awhile at Magnolia Bakery, which is a sign, along with the full tables, that it’s already the new lunch hot spot. My decent enough Cobb salad was easily overwhelmed by the item that everyone’s raving about: the banana pudding, which they sell in ice-cream containers for mad indulgence (Dh25-35). Divine, but better your hips than mine. www.magnoliabakery.com 2 674 9380 *Mo Gannon

Catalan, the Rosewood Hotel

For dinner at Catalan in the Rosewood, the Spanish restaurant of Michelin-star chef Antonio Saez, I happily skipped the paella to savour the beef tenderloin with melted-before-it-hits-your-mouth gnocchi. The interior is a little austere in a fine-dining sort of way, but the prices aren’t as outrageous as I’d expected. http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/abudhabi 02 813 5550 *Mo Gannon

Emporio Armani Caffe, The Galleria

At a press lunch at The Galleria’s sleek and stylish Emporio Armani Caffe, we sampled its wood-fired pizza and buffalo mozzarella salad, and reminisced about the old days as we gazed across the water at a surprising new view of old Abu Dhabi. www.thegalleria.ae 02 676 6995 *Mo Gannon

Koi, Saadiyat Island

I love the entrance lit by fire urns, its Asian lattice exterior and its dark wood and bamboo candle-lit interior. Even the Buddha Bar-style soundtrack was subtle enough not to spoil the mood. I’m an instant fan of the Crispy Rice with tuna, the fresh-made mocchi and the Honeymoon mocktail. Despite all that is new in Abu Dhabi, I’m sure to become a regular. 02 678 3334 *Mo Gannon

Wing Zone, Boutik Mall, Reem Island

This is not exactly gourmet fare, and it might be a few weeks yet before their driver is on staff and they’re able to deliver to hungry individuals across Abu Dhabi, but the opening of the US franchise of Wing Zone in the Boutik Mall on Reem Island must be noted. It’s not easy to find chicken wings, whether bone-in or boneless, that strike the perfect balance between crispy yet tender chicken and thick, sticky sauce, and Wing Zone has managed the difficult feat. They have over 12 flavours to choose from when it comes to dressing those wings, and the option to get your wings catered in platters of 100 or more. It’s a different take on fast food fare: their burgers are fresh, juicy and always so delicious; their sides are varied and come with your choice of blue cheese or ranch dipping sauce and both salads and shrimp platters are on the menu. Check out www.wingzoneuae.com or call 02 644 4223. *Hala Khalaf

Al Maz by Momo, The Galleria

AlMaz by Momo, which has long been in Dubai just opened in The Galleria on Al Maryah Island, is my new favourite place to hang out. It’s not just the cool vibe — it was gently buzzing on a recent Friday afternoon, with a DJ spinning cool tunes from North Africa — or the beautiful setting facing out onto clear blue Gulf waters. Or the friendly staff (“we have been waiting for you”, the smiling host said when I arrived) and amazing juice bar. It’s that their lamb tagine, with almonds, pears and grapes, might be the most delicious thing I’ve eaten all year. Stay tuned for an expanded menu, breakfast, Friday brunch and afternoon tea. www.thegalleria.ae 02 676 1102 *Ann Marie McQueen

Urban Bites, Khalidiya

It was months ago when I spotted Urban Bites, located in Khalidiya’s Shining Tower, and made a quick U-turn — having been drawn simply by the sign and promise of healthy, crunchy fare. It was still in the construction stages back then, but it’s finally open and it’s just what I thought it would be. A recent lunch order turned up a solid Tuna Nicoise Salad — one of the best I’ve had in or out of a restaurant — and a nippy cup of gazpacho, turning lunch at my desk into a bit of a picnic. A new branch is due to open on Airport Road by the end of the year. Urban Bites, located at Shining Tower, Khalidiya, is open daily from 7am to 10pm. You can place an order at www.urbanbites.me or by calling 02 222 2302 *Ann Marie McQueen

Avasa, St Regis

The Indian Kitchen opened this summer in the retail space connected to the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort. The narrow boîte, stylishly decorated with multicoloured bangles dangling from the ceiling, is the sister restaurant of Chhappan Bhog as well as Kababs N Kurries, all owned by the Royal Orchid Group. I’ve had a few quiet weekday meals at Avasa watched over by its super-keen staff. Ranging from Dh70 to Dh115, the curries don’t come cheap, but they’re full of tender meats and carefully crafted flavours. www.theroyalorchidgroup.com 02 677 99 11 * Mo Gannon