With Abu Dhabi’s location on the coast, who could resist a deliciously fresh seafood meal in one of the city’s finest restaurants?
Words by Amanda Tomlinson
Enjoy unrivalled views of berthed luxury yachts, Yas Marina and the Yas Yacht Club at Nautilus thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass along the marina-facing side of the restaurant.
It’s not just the view from the restaurant of this ultra-modern hotel that is the winner. Under the guidance of a new executive chef Michel Jost, who has worked in restaurants at luxury hotels in Switzerland, Spain, South Africa and Greece, Nautilus has seen a few changes.
Chef Michel and UK-trained chef de cuisine Satish, who is originally from Mumbai, have fine tuned and extended the menu offering a greater selection of Champagne, including an indulgent 22-carat Champagne rosé. The raw bar offers two types of French farm oysters and three types of premium caviar.
The selection of appetisers has increased and the warm dishes have been divided into two styles: Mediterranean and Pan-Pacific. Recommended starters include crab cocktail or signature scallop, while the grilled surf and turf gets the tick of approval.
Also getting the thumbs up is new restaurant manager Xavier Lignac who brings Michelin-star experience to the restaurant and places great emphasis on staff knowing the menu inside out.
With delicious fresh seafood, beautiful marina views and friendly efficient service, an evening at Nautilus is bound to be special.
Where: Yas Viceroy, Yas Island
When: Tuesday to Sunday 7 to 11pm
Contact: 02 6560600
Perched over the water in a wooden hut, this romantic sea-food restaurant has a boardwalk terrace that’s perfect for outdoor dining.
Whether taking in the views of the glistening Gulf waters or observing the growing Abu Dhabi skyline, by day or night Finz is one of Abu Dhabi’s favourite restaurants.
The menu features all manner of seafood dishes, but perhaps one of the most recommended is the salt-crusted sea bass for two, which comes with lobster and tarragon sauce, seasonal vegetables, baby potatoes and rice. The mixed seafood grill platter is also popular.
The seafood is sourced from all over the world. The sea bass is from Norway, the Dover sole from European waters, the sako tuna comes from the Philippines, the oysters are from France and the catch of the day is from the local fish market.
The wine list is extensive, while the service is friendly and attentive. There are few better ways to enjoy a seafood meal than overlooking the water, with a gentle breeze of mild sea air.
Where: Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi
When: Daily 12.30 to 3.30pm, 7 to 11.30pm
Contact: 02 6979000
In a hut overlooking the beach and the Arabian Gulf, sits Fishmarket, a restaurant where diners choose their ingredients and have the chefs prepare it the way they like.
In the seafood section, guests can select from fat juicy scallops, Omani lobster, oysters and mussels, squid, shrimp and tiger prawns and an array of crabs sourced from around the world. Each can be grilled or fried and served with sauces, such as lemon and garlic, or sweet chili.
In the fish section, the choice is extensive. There is sea bass, red hammour, sultan ibrahim, tuna, salmon, shark and more. Diners can then choose vegetables, salad, noodles and rice and decide how they would like the meal cooked. Staff are on hand to help with selections and also advise on the best sauces.
Once diners have ordered, they can enjoy views of the Gulf through the large windows, watch the chefs in action or admire the aquariums around the restaurant.
Fishmarket is ideal for those who like the freedom to choose how their meal is prepared. The seafood is fresh and tasty, the restaurant is lively with friendly and helpful staff and the view shows Abu Dhabi at its best.
Where: InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen
When: Daily 12.30 to 4pm, 7pm to 11pm
Contact: 800 423463
Taking its name from the Arabic word for fisherman, Sayad at Emirates Palace is a modern seafood restaurant with an aquatic feel.
The turquoise lighting and clever use of glass give the restaurant an aquarium-like ambience, which sits perfectly with its menu of ocean delights.
The seafood at this fine-dining restaurant is prepared using mostly European cooking principles, while modern techniques are employed at times to improve the taste or texture of the food.
Highlights include the octopus carpaccio served with pickled peach, potato confit and a peach and tamarind dressing, or the sweet corn velouté, which is sweet corn soup served with king crab and curried popcorn. The seafood is sourced from Australia and Europe, particularly France and Norway.
Situated on the ground level of the hotel, the restaurant offers views of the beach and marina. There is a terrace for al fresco dining and three private dining rooms, each accommodating up to eight diners.
Where: Emirates Palace, Ras Al Akhdar
When: Daily 6.30 to 11.30pm
Contact: 02 6909000
Pearls & Caviar
A firm favourite on Abu Dhabi’s dining scene, Pearls & Caviar never fails to impress.
The venue’s exclusivity and luxurious surroundings are evident from the name alone, but it’s a theme that carries throughout the restaurant.
Overlooking the water and the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Mediterranean seafood restaurant exudes class. It is coloured in pewter tones with Arabic touches. There’s an intricate mosaic tile pattern on the floor, white tablecloths and comfortable leather chairs.
Guest chef Jean Paul Lourdes, from the Shangri La Hotel, Toronto, has designed a special menu that shows flair and creativity, while incorporating some local delights.
For a starter, try the scallops roasted with coffee and cardamom with salted milk curd and medjool dates, or the puree of pattypan squash, sautéed Gulf shrimps, bitter orange and pomegranate.
For mains, it’s hard to beat the Chilean sea bass, garlic ravioli, sour grapefruit essence, beef marrow and juice of young tarragon.
Where: Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri
When: Daily 7pm to midnight
Contact: 02 5098555