I was tipped off to this restaurant by another member of the food community in Abu Dhabi (the best recommendations always come this way, do they not?). Situated in a part of Abu Dhabi I had never been to previously (honestly, I thought the main island stopped at Emirates Palace…), tucked away in the back, is No. FiftySeven Boutique Cafe. While I do believe in my trusty Google Maps, I drove (more or less) into a marina/dockyard and ended up parking along a rather dodgy road. After walking through the set of residential buildings, I’m still not entirely sure how parking works for this restaurant. Moms with prams, take note (or, someone tell me the secret of where to park, because Google Maps is certainly not clued in).
So, what’s the story behind this cafe?
One foodie who wholeheartedly believes the style of a space influences how people feel. One design devotee who adores bringing family and friends together around the table. One dream to open their own boutique café in Abu Dhabi, plus several years and the creation of the UAE’s most innovative and mysterious supper club, and you’ve got No. FiftySeven Boutique Café.
With a stunning interior (all blacks and whites and dark colors, very chic), I happily settled down to view the breakfast menu. Not having seen sea salt hot chocolate in the UAE, I was more than happy to place the order. The beverage did not disappoint. While I thought it could’ve been a tad richer (either a creamier blend, more milk, etc.), I would order it again (and at AED22, the price seems right — not sure why the cold version is AED 27). I also requested water, and was served the fancy Antipodes agua that More Cafe also carries.
Before I go much further, I should note there appears to be a discrepancy in the opening times on the website (8 AM) and the actual opening of the venue (9 AM, sort of…). Coming from Saadiyat, I allowed myself enough time to arrive between 8:30-9AM (believing the cafe opened at 8 AM). While guests were allowed in before 9 AM and shown to tables, the kitchen did not start serving until 9 AM (which, ended up being closer to 9:30 AM).
Although there was a good amount of choice on the menu for breakfast, I opted for the poached eggs (served with smashed avocado). I swapped out the pumpernickel bread — a bit too heavy for me — and instead added in ciabatta (sourdough probably would’ve been best). As I waited, a plate of bread (with butter and jam) was delivered to the table. As I did not want to spoil my breakfast, I opted to try just a small bit. Honestly, I don’t think the tray was necessary (unless it’s going to be at the level of something like Paul…but that’s my opinion). Or, perhaps the guests should be asked if they would like any bread (I really dislike food wastage). Although there were only three seated tables, it was close to 9:25AM when my eggs were finally delivered. Should you be in the mood for a quick brekkie before work, this is not your place.
Was the wait worth it?
Having recently tried a very similar dish at Common Grounds, I found the Dubai option the better of the two. Unfortunately, like the previous dish, there were temperature issues — mainly that the eggs were relatively cold and the avocado barely room temperature. On a freshly toasted piece of bread, with (warmish) eggs, I think this would be a completely different dish. Furthermore, the (veal) bacon was completely unnecessary. My suggestion would be to drop the price by 20AED and remove the (also cold) bacon altogether, as it did nothing to elevate the plate.
All things being equal, I think Tawa Cafe, Third Place, Fanr, or Jones the Grocer is probably your better bet in the capital. Having a look at the menu, I think the biggest strengths are in the desserts, so perhaps if you’ve got a sweet tooth and don’t mind walking, No57 Boutique Cafe is the place for you.
Yes, this map shows the restaurant in the water.