It’s been awhile since I’ve dined at Bord Eau. If memory serves, the last time I was there was with an Entertainer coupon for a buy one get one offer for the Hubs and myself. Fast forward three years and I was happy to host a dear friend for a meal at this intimate French bistro. Both of us recalled dining at the venue, but our memories were neither good or bad (not a particularly good sign for a restaurant). Located at the Shangri-La Qaryat al Beri (of which I’ve had my issues…), the restaurant is set directly off the usually bustling lobby. Once inside, the noise disappears, and visitors are left with stunning views of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Tables are spread quite far apart, such that there is privacy (unless the sound is turned off and then it’s awkward for everyone).
For our visit, although I had initially been interested in the limited edition Truffle menu, instead, we dined on the Zomato set menu. That is, a selection of three starters, a choice of three mains, and dessert. The dinner also comes with a divine bread and dip selection (complete with fresh butter). At AED199, this offers significant value for money, and an excellent way to try out the restaurant. As my dining partner has a seafood allergy, we still had plenty to choose from on the list of appetizers, including a number of French options, lest anyone be disappointed. In the end, we ordered Lobster Bisque, Beef Croquettes, Foie Gras Terrine, and were also served up Mushroom Pie. I’ll be upfront and mention the presentation of these dishes was not what I was expecting. That is, I was reminded more of tapas than I was of French plating. After speaking with Chef Jimmy, who is Portuguese, my dining partner and I guessed that he was infusing a bit of his home experience into the dishes. As for the tastes? While I wanted the bisque to be a bit creamier, it did deliver on lobster flavors. And while Foie is still not my favorite dish, it was equal parts luxurious and tart — the stewed fruit added a nice amount of sweetness — and served in small portions, which I appreciated. The mushroom pie was a win for both of us. Once again constructed in bite-sized pieces, they were an excellent taste of comfort food. Who doesn’t like a flaky crust? Overall, I enjoyed the selection, and while diners could undoubtedly enjoy dishes on their own, I think they were intended to be shared.
For our mains, we chose the Wild Mushroom Creamy Rice and Grilled Free-Range Chicken and because the restaurant was generous enough to indulge us, we were also served the Local Black Sea Bream. On a (much appreciated) slower pace, we were first given the Rice, which was hands down one of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had in the country. Deceptively simple, but delivering at every level — texture, depth of flavor, and presentation — I would not hesitate to order this again. In fact, it was a close tie between the rice and chicken, which was presented in sections. Served with two kind of sauce and grilled lettuce, we loved the crispy skin and tender protein. Unfortunately, while beautiful to look at, the Sea Bream was a bit of a distant choice, a bit too bland for me.
Dessert involved some drama in the form of melting chocolate balls (restaurants here do love a bit of flare, do they not?) and some petit fours to finish things out.
Service was a real treat here as well. We instantly connected with our server, who took the initiative at multiple points during the meal, even going so far as to clue us in to an excellently priced Sauvignon Blanc. Take note, general managers, encouraging or allowing servers to appropriately interact with guests (none of this ‘ma’am sir’ stuff) makes people feel welcome (and more inclined to return).
There are only a few improvements I would suggest, and none of them related to the menu. One, the music was most distractingly all over the shop. Poor holiday covers mixed in with random songs; the soundtrack did nothing to elevate the experience. I would imagine jazz standards or modern covers (ala Post Modern Juke Box) would be a welcome addition. Similarly, the lighting felt a bit bright for what should be a more romantic atmosphere. And finally, like Little Miss India, guests will have to exit the restaurant and cross the lobby to use the restroom. If a refit was ever to take place, sorting out bathrooms inside the venue should be top of the list. While there are obvious reasons here, I think forcing guests out of their element is a rather significant oversight (especially when fine dining is involved).
Would I go back? Definitely! My dining partner and I were keen to hear about the monthly wine dinners offered at the venue. There were a few dishes we didn’t get to try that I would love to come back and taste.
Who is Bord Eau best for? Those celebrating anniversaries, wanting to celebrate a big occasion, or a potential engagement.
Do you have something to celebrate? Where is your favorite place to go out in Abu Dhabi?
A to Za’atar was a guest of Bord Eau. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.