Celebrity dining is on its way to Abu Dhabi with Frankie's, a restaurant from Frankie Dettori and Marco Pierre White.
Big names serve up big bills
ABU DHABI // For years the capital has missed out on the celebrity cuisine trend, but that is about to change with the opening of the city's first celebrity restaurant - Frankie's, from the superstar jockey Frankie Dettori and the Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White.
But diners should not expect the jockey or chef to visit their tables after the meal. They are unlikely to be there as they have five other restaurants of the same name in London, plus one in Dubai. The restaurant, in the upcoming Fairmont Hotel at Between Two Bridges on the outskirts of the city, will open after Ramadan. So, if you cannot guarantee seeing the celebrities, what makes Frankie's special?
The chain's website, www.frankiesitalianbarandgrill.com, says: "These exciting Italian family restaurants are the result of a partnership between one of the greatest chefs of all time and one of the greatest jockeys of recent years." Frankie Dettori is a Milan-born jockey who moved to England when he was 14. Retained by Godolphin stables, he is world-famous for his racing successes - and for his spectacular dismounts after a race.
Marco Pierre White is a renowned chef with a fiery reputation who was raised in a council house in Leeds. He rose to fame as the first English chef to win three Michelin stars. Frankie's, which opened in Dubai in 2007, was always going to find its way to Abu Dhabi, said Walter Hall, the restaurant's chief operating officer. The success of the Dubai branch only increased the resolve to expand within the UAE.
It was Abu Dhabi's economic strength, he said, that made it an ideal location for such ventures, despite the world financial climate, and the opening of the city's first celebrity restaurant was one more marker on the road to the capital's target of becoming a cultural force to be reckoned with in the region. The up-and-coming district of Between Two Bridges, also home to the five-star Shangri-La hotel, will "become the epicentre of the city as it expands in years to come", he said.
The restaurant is being designed by David Tokiwa from Singapore, who also designed the Dubai branch. A live pianist will be one of the key attractions, to give the restaurant a "lounge" feel. At 375 square metres, the Abu Dhabi Frankie's will be larger than the one in Dubai, on The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence - and, with an average meal for two costing around Dh400 (US$110), its owners hope it will prove as lucrative.
Mr White, famous for the UK television show Hell's Kitchen and as the man who trained Gordon Ramsay, was keen to ensure the restaurant has an element of local flavour and adapts to the local market, said Mr Hall. "He was involved at every stage of the design and menu creation and was always willing to take our comments on board. "Frankie has taken the restaurant to his heart and has helped enormously in promoting it within the Dubai community. No matter how busy he has been he has taken time out to assist. Both are very professional and it has been a privilege for us to work with them."