Being a Faculty Member Has Its Priviledges: St. Regis Saadiyat’s Renaissance of Gin Night

Having lived on Saaidyat (home to both a St. Regis and Park Hyatt) for the past two years, I am no stranger to nice restaurants and outings.  I had visited 55 and 5th some time ago (and was spectacularly disappointed), so it was with some hesitation I booked my leaving dinner for the Renaissance of Gin Night (a special dining event).

Reservations?  Made online via e-mail.  And here, I will say just how far above and beyond the staff went.  I first made a booking for our original group (6 pax).  Then, as I am known to do, I started inviting tons of other people.  In my mind, this was an event where the entire restaurant was dedicated to the meal.  Not so.  As soon as I tried to add my additional guests, I received word that I wouldn’t be able to include anyone extra.  A few days later, I was offered the next 3 available spots.  Due to my poor planning, I could work with 9.  What impressed me is I felt the reservations team really heard my request — I knew they wanted my last big meal in the capital to be a good one.  In fact, at 6:30PM the night of the event, they called to say 2 more spots opened up!  With these actions, I felt valued and welcomed, even before attending.

Ambiance? We were welcomed by handsome Vincenzo, a member of the F&B team, and immediately served some of the most delicious G&T’s I’ve ever had.  These cocktails, along with some delicious small bites were served in the lounge area in the bar, before we moved upstairs to the private dining room (The Loft).  The Loft is a fabulous space with stacks of wine lining the walls.  The tall table (seated for 20) was set in a communal style, which I thought was a perfect complement to the evening.  The size of the room allowed for us to hear from the host and the chef, all without interrupting other diners.

gin and tonic
Still dreaming of these G&Ts.
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Tasteful settings. 🙂

Food?  Read the below menu and weep.  Even better?  An engaging chef!  Chef Malcolm Webster was a wonderful host and was clearly playing to some delicious strengths. There was complete agreement from the group that the venison was among some of the most tastiest we’d ever consumed.  While the venison was my winner for the evening, I also enjoyed hearing the thought process that went into the meal and how it complemented the various botanicals found in the gins we sampled.  Having attended other local wine nights, this event was a master class in what to do right.

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Tasty bites before dinner.
gin night menu
A memorable menu.
Portobello Road gin
A distillery I can’t wait to visit!
venison loin
Venison loin done right.
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Beware gurgling ice!

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Service? Impeccable.  To be fair, I did drop the name of my former employer (NYUAD) at the time of booking, which seemed to cause the gin host (??) to believe we were all faculty members (spoiler alert: we aren’t).  Anyway, our association with this prestigious institution seemed to throw off the speaker (which, in case you are not versed on higher education in the Emirates, we are not a viticulture school).  He shouldn’t have worried — we learned a lot and Spinney’s should be proud of the evening.  The balance of service staff to guests and pacing of the evening were also well done.

Cost? AED300 per person.  This was such a ridiculous bargain, it doesn’t even seem possible.  With 4 drinks, 3 courses (plus hors-d’oeuvres and petit fours), I challenge you to find more value for money in the capital.  I’m already thinking of attending the next event (Feb 22).

Parting thoughts from Hubs… Zzzz…zzzz.  [We were out a bit past his bedtime].

Have you attended any of the featured nights at the St. Regis?  Do you have a favorite gin?

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Author. Expat. Saberer of champagne. You might also know me as Courtney Brandt.

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