Recently opened Cafe 302 is located at the Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana. The restaurant, taking cues from other similar cafes (Jones the Grocer, The Third Place), is an open plan venue, full of light. For a hotel that has many serviced residences, the restaurant meets a balance for not only in-house guests, but also others in the neighborhood.
I was treated to a quick tour of the facilities, which include distinct dining zones: a traditional ‘coffee shop’ area (with tables, chairs, and more comfortable seating) and a quieter ‘family room’ towards the back. The venue appears to be a decent place for a meeting or getting work done on one’s laptop.
Says the website:
An urban friendly café cum restaurant in the heart of the capital, Café 302 is the destination to be in Abu Dhabi. Designed to delight with an assortment of food and beverage, something on the table will bring you back every time.
Guests can take home premium and organic retail items offered at the café where they can choose from a wide selection of virgin pressed olive oils, organic fruits and kitchen tools.
Opening the menu, I realize I am spoiled for choice. Furthermore, if you’ve been reading this blog, I think it’s clearly been established that if there is burrata, I must order it. Unfortunately, there was a bit of discrepancy between myself and the waitress. I pointed to and selected the burrata cheese bruschetta (there are four varieties of bruschetta, and one of those comes with burrata) and was treated to an order of…burrata cheese. I had a feeling this was going to be the case, but in repeating myself and pointing to exactly what I was referring to on the menu, I’m not what further could be done. The kind waitress was ready to bring my plate of cheese back to the kitchen, to which I declined, and simply asked for bread. There were further communication errors around my asking for ‘no olives’ to which I received the response ‘no tomatoes?’ in the repetition of my order. I get that everyone can have a bad day, and I may not always pronounciate carefully, but it was a rather frustrating experience. That said, the burrata was quite good!
Looking at the rest of the menu (breakfast options, salads, burgers, pizza and other international varieties), while my waist said salad, my stomach said…also salad. I opted for the roast chicken salad with apple and celery (served with a honey mustard dressing). It was a large portion and while I would’ve liked the chicken to perhaps be grilled, rather than roasted, the tasty crunch and reasonable price (AED42) of the salad is something I would recommend.
I think it’s worth mentioning that while I personally do not enjoy coffee, Cafe 302 blends a special ‘Kyoto Style’ coffee which takes 8 hours to prepare (and if offered in the restaurant or as a takeaway). While I did not partake, there was also a large selection of cakes, pastries,and cookies. Knowing I was going to Inakaya that evening, I had to sadly turn down what looked to be a super yummy salted caramel cheesecake (sobs).
Did the island need another cafe? Yes, I think they did! Watch out, Jones and Third Place — you have some competition!