For our Eid Al Adha staycation, we decided, with friends, to spend the long weekend at the Fairmont Hotel, Bab Al Bahr, one of three hotels in the Qaryat Al Beri resort, Abu Dhabi. The resort also includes Souk Al Beri, a small shopping plaza with several souvenir shops and a choice of eateries
Having compared experiences of previous stays, as well as the Dubai branches, we finally settled on visiting Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill located at the Fairmont. Reserving the table was straight forward, we simply stopped by the hostess on the way back from the beach and booked for that evening.
Later, on arrival we were greeted and swiftly taken to our table. Unlike Marco Pierre White Grill in Dubai, the restaurant is small and felt cozy with a closed kitchen. The decor was pleasant with textures of glass and dark wood.
The service was prompt and efficient with menus delivered to us as we were seated and we ordered our drinks immediately while we browsed the menu. The waiting staff was at hand to take our order and advised us of the 25 minute wait for mains as none of us had ordered starters.
Once ordered, we relaxed, enjoying the conversation. After a few minutes the amuse-bouche arrived. This was salmon tartar with watermelon and chive salsa. Surprising flavours, it was extremely tasty and very refreshing. When we explained that one of us did not eat fish, the waiter courteously removed the tartar and brought an alternative which looked like beef carpaccio with vegetables and cream.
The mains arrived soon after. All the steaks were immaculately presented with a tiny yorkshire pudding and a cherry tomato. The sides followed and we were pleased we had ordered extras based on the small portion sizes.
Tucking in, the steaks were delightful. A little undercooked but still to my taste. My friend did prefer hers to be less rare and ended up sending it back to the kitchen twice. The quality of the ingredients justified the price tag, although the sides did not deliver the same levels of satisfaction that the steaks did.
The dessert menu was handed promptly after the plates were cleared. We felt the waiters were keen for our orders and we had to ask them to give us a little break to digest several times before we felt we could order desserts. Having decided to skip starters in favour of cheese and port, I was looking forward to savouring the cheese selection. I ordered Berkswell and Stilton, both English and Ardrahan from Ireland. The presentation was beautiful and they were served with a good range of chutneys, nut brittles, grapes and nuts as well as crackers. The portions were good and went well with the port.
Overall, the food quality was excellent and the service was courteous and swift. As a fan of Marco Pierre White at the Conrad in Dubai, I did feel this branch failed to deliver the same quality of overall experience and service.
At some points of the evening the service was a little too prompt. Having served our first drinks order, the waiters immediately opened our wine and proceeded to serve at the same time rather than ask if we wished it to be served with our steaks.
While there was an extensive wine list spanning all price points and countries, there was no sommelier nor maître d’ to advise on pairings. Disappointing considering the overall cost of the meal and experience.
In summary, we had a great night and really enjoyed the meal. I would recommend a visit here purely for the food. To manage expectations, it is a very small restaurant so probably a high overhead to employ a sommelier for so few tables. While some may feel Marco Pierre White has just put his name above the door, I think he has successfully implemented his culinary expertise throughout the experience.
A two-course meal for four including wine came to 2,230 AED after a 20% Citibank credit card discount.