What's On Awards Abu Dhabi - winners
What’s On celebrates the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi, as well as spas, leisure and entertainment – it’s the What’s On Award Abu Dhabi.
The best in leisure, entertainment and dining awards were celebrated in Abu Dhabi on October 20, 2014, during a glamorous party at the St Regis on Saadiyat Island. Thousands of you voted in the city’s outlets and online, and now the winners have been revealed.
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel
This multi award-winning French restaurant has it all: a sophisticated menu, impeccable service and some of the most elegant and romantic décor in the city with stunning views of the creek. It remains the place to go to for food lovers in the capital. And its famous chocolate extravaganza dessert is as good as ever.
Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, daily 6.30pm to 11.30pm. Tel: (02) 5098888. Taxi: Shangri-La Hotel. shangri-la.com
CHEF OF THE YEAR
Sinju Varghese, Chef de Cuisine, Sayad, Emirates Palace
Our chef of the year once told What’s On, “A kitchen is a tough place to work.” But the Chef de Cuisine at Emirates Palace’s seafood restaurant manages to make it look very easy, and was a worthy winner at our awards ceremony. His dishes draw on many influences: try the Arabic spiced grilled salmon (with dates marmalade) and the pumpkin risotto with harissa.
INDIE RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
When the panel of judges were asked to give an award to an outlet in the capital that isn’t in a hotel or mall and doesn’t serve alcohol, only one name sprung to mind. Café Arabia is as much a community as it is a restaurant and holds exhibitions, book readings and even concerts. The brunch here is dirt-cheap as well and the chic yet slightly rough around the edges décor, set over two floors of a house, give it a homely feel. Every Abu Dhabian should visit here at least once.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
A creative and spellbinding menu of Japanese dishes served in a modern, classy setting: Zuma is the kind of restaurant that is making Abu Dhabi a major player on the global foodie scene and it was no surprise when the panel of judges named it Newcomer Of The Year.
VOTED FOR BY YOU
A café in a furniture store might not be the most obvious of settings, but it does mean that you get to enjoy some brekkie or a spot of lunch with friends while sitting on some pretty decent décor. Our army of readers clearly like it, as The One was crowned Favourite Café for the second year in a row.
Shortlisted: Café Bateel, Nation Towers; Leopold’s of London, The Galleria
Giornotte, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
How big is the brunch at Giornotte? So big you’re given a map on arrival. The 27 cooking stations cover all of Giornotte and there’s so much on offer that desserts are served in the hotel’s café Dolce next door. The classy surroundings, variety, family-friendly vibe and unique entertainment (a chap playing Metallica covers on the piano) must have impressed plenty of the city’s residents, as the votes flooded in to crown it your Favourite Brunch of 2014.
Shortlisted: Nahaam, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Sevilla, Al Raha Beach Hotel
FAVOURITE CHINESE RESTAURANT
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel
The elegant surroundings of the Shangri-La are home to many top restaurants, and the menu does classic dishes well, such as crispy duck with pancakes, but also features many special signature dishes worth scoffing, including crispy octopus with plum garlic sauce. But it’s the various special events it holds that really show off its creatively, such as its Hong Kong street food festival earlier this year.
Shortlisted: Hakkasan, Emirates Palace; The Noodle House
FAVOURITE HEALTHY EATING RESTAURANT
BiteRite Restro Café
The newly-created Healthy Eating category for the 2014 awardswas sponsored by Daman and the winner, BiteRite was the perfect choice, as they list how many calories are in every single item on the menu. There can be no greater satisfaction than ordering items such as their spinach and mushroom soup, which has only 28 calories.
Shortlisted: Hanoi Naturally; Nathalie’s
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT
Fairways, Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa
The huge spread on offer at Fairways is popular not only with visitors to the hotel, but also the weekend crowds from Khalifa City and beyond (when it’s often booked up weeks in advance). You’ll find a massive spread of dishes, with seafood, curries and local dishes and more.
Shortlisted: Rosewater, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Vasco’s, Hilton Abu Dhabi
FAVOURITE FRENCH RESTAURANT
Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel
If you’re going to eat frogs’ legs in one place in Abu Dhabi, we recommend you do it at Bord Eau. The outlet walked away with two awards this year, including the biggie – Restaurant Of The Year – and now it’s up to new chef Didier to prove he can retain the title next year.
Shortlisted: Brasserie Angélique, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Le Beaujolais, Mercure Centre Hotel
FAVOURITE INDIAN RESTAURANT
Spice Mela, Rosewood Abu Dhabi
You might call Indian food many things: spicy, colourful, hearty, but very few restaurants produce genuine fine dining, gourmet Indian dishes. Thankfully, one that does just happens to be in the Rosewood Abu Dhabi. Chef Siddharth’s dishes are clever. They’re sophisticated yet there are influences of street food in there as well. It’s the most creative menu in what was a hotly-contested category.
Shortlisted: Avasa, The Collection; Ushna, Souk Qaryat Al Beri
FAVOURITE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Sayad, Emirates Palace
While the What’s On panel was so impressed with Sayad chef’s Sinju that we crowned him Chef Of The Year, it seems the voting public were also pretty impressed with the dishes served here, in perhaps Abu Dhabi’s most opulent of hotels.
Shortlisted: Fishmarket, InterContinental Abu Dhabi; Scott’s, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
FAVOURITE MODERN EUROPEAN RESTAURANT
Catalan, Rosewood Abu Dhabi
It’s one of those places you take that special person in your life to and the European cuisine served here is some of the best in the emirate. This is fine dining with a capital F, with everything from steamed cockles to monkfish suquet and grain-fed chicken paella on the menu. Fancy some grape? Catalan does menu pairing better than most places in Abu Dhabi.
Shortlisted: Azur, Al Raha Beach Hotel; Beach House, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas
FAVOURITE STEAKHOUSE AND GRILL RESTAURANT
The Foundry, Southern Sun Abu Dhabi
Considering the Southern Sun has only been open since the summer, the impression it’s made on our readers has been spectacular. None of the What’s On team would have predicted such a new restaurant would secure the most votes, but one visit will explain why it’s been crowned the winner. The quality of the meat is second to none, as are the personal touches – you get to choose your steak knife from a box, containing six knives with different handles.
Shortlisted: 55 & 5th The Grill, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort; BOA Steakhouse, Eastern Mangroves Promenade
FAVOURITE THE AMERICAS RESTAURANT
Chamas, InterContinental Abu Dhabi
It’s all about the big cuts of meat at Chamas, Abu Dhabi’s churrascaria restaurant, but the atmosphere here is what makes it so much fun as well, thanks to samba dancers and TropiMambo, the restaurant’s Colombian band. Without a doubt one of the more lively places to eat in the city.
Shortlisted: Amerigos, Park Inn by Radisson, Abu Dhabi Yas Island; Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, The Collection
FAVOURITE MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT
Li Beirut, Jumeirah At Etihad Towers
The hotel’s vision with this restaurant was to revolutionise Lebanese cuisine – and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. This is yet another gong for the multi-award winning restaurant, and we imagine the zaatar-crusted rack of lamb probably secured them a few votes alone.
Shortlisted: Li Beirut, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Sambusek, Rosewood Abu Dhabi
FAVOURITE THAI RESTAURANT
Silk & Spice, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
An elegant venue serving fantastic Thai dishes created by head chef Jatuphol Puyprom, Silk & Spice fought off some tough competition to walk away with the gong. Thai food is a growing scene in the city, and with rumours about another opening for 2015, this will become an even more hotly contested category next year.
Shortlisted: Benjarong, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi; Pachaylen, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara
FAVOURITE JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Koi, The Collection
The Collection on Saadiyat is becoming one of What’s On’s favourite places to visit and Koi’s contemporary menu is bold, fresh, colourful and beautifully presented. It’s also very tasty. A tip from us – try the grilled lobster tail.
Shortlisted: Tori No Su, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Zuma, Sowwah Square
Favourite Thai restaurant in Abu Dhabi – Silk & Spice, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
FAVOURITE PUB GRUB
Hemingway’s, Hilton Abu Dhabi
With so many glitzy venues in the capital, it might seem surprising that one of the oldest hotels in the city got the most votes for pub grub. But then again Hemingway’s, huge, excellent value for money Tex-Mex dishes and jovial staff have been drawing regulars in for years, especially at the weekend when the football is on the bar’s TV screens.
Shortlisted: McGettigan’s, Al Raha Beach Hotel; Porter’s Pub, Grand Millennium Al Wahda
FAVOURITE PAN-ASIAN RESTAURANT
Toshi, Grand Millennium Al Wahda
This Grand Millennium eatery gets it right on so many levels – from its teppanyaki station to popular theme nights such as sushi, Thai and seafood. Sleek reds and blacks line the walls, giving it a modern and hipster feel. This is a restaurant that is a jack of all trades – but it’s also a master of them all as well, and the public, it seems, agrees, as it easily secured the most votes in this category.
Shortlisted: Cho Gao Asian Experience, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi; Li Jiang, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
FAVOURITE BUSINESS LUNCH
Frankie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Frankie’s is the sort of place to have a relaxed, casual business lunch with a client and at Dhs125 for three courses it is also great value. The friendly, jovial yet professional staff add to the vibe and the pappardelle with chicken and button mushrooms and veal shank ravioli are stand-out dishes on a menu you’re guaranteed to have served to you in under an hour.
Shortlisted: Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel; Zuma, Sowwah Square
FAVOURITE BRITISH RESTAURANT
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Let’s face it: Marco knows a thing or two about cooking beef. His Abu Dhabi steakhouse has been open for five years and has cooked some 50,000 steaks in that time – plenty of those to What’s On readers, judging by the number of votes it secured.
Shortlisted: Scott’s, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
FAVOURITE ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Porto Bello, Grand Millennium Al Wahda
Fine Italian fare that is also fantastic value for money, Porto Bello’s wall of high, airy windows make it a perfect location for lunch, let alone dinner. Considering it’s location in busy Al Wahda, it’s even managed to create some tranquility in its awesome al fresco area. As for the food? Strong flavours and simple dishes make this a place that now has its fair share of regulars, including What’s On’s readers, who made this one a runaway winner in its category. If you’ve not tried the hotel’s brunch here on a Friday, you’re mising out. It features unique dishes and great tunes from mariachi group The Trio Band.
Shortlisted: Bocca, Hilton Abu Dhabi; Spaccanapoli, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI PRE-AWARDED WINNERS
FAVOURITE FITNESS CLUB
Al Wahda Health Club
Chi, The Spa
FAVOURITE SPORT & OUTDOOR
Al Forsan International Sports Resort
FAVOURITE NAIL BAR
Tips & Toes
FAVOURITE HAIR SALON
FAVOURITE BRUNCH (BELOW DHS400)
Jing Asia, Crowne Plaza Yas Island
FAVOURITE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
FAVOURITE CAFÉ (BELOW DHS400)
Le Café, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
FAVOURITE MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Marakesh, Millennium Corniche Hotel
FAVOURITE CHINESE RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Shanghai Surprise, Al Diar Capital Hotel
FAVOURITE FRENCH RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Trader Vic’s, Al Ain Rotana
FAVOURITE INDIAN RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Choices, Yas Island
FAVOURITE ITALIAN RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
FAVOURITE JAPANESE RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
FAVOURITE BUSINESS LUNCH (BELOW DHS400)
Market Kitchen, Le Royal Méridien
FAVOURITE MODERN EUROPEAN RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Bravo, Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort
FAVOURITE PAN-ASIAN RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Royal Orchid, Hilton Abu Dhabi
FAVOURITE THE AMERICAS RESTAURANT (BELOW DHS400)
Jazz Bar & Dining, Hilton Abu Dhabi
Shortlisted: Iris, Yas Marina; Porter’s Pub, Grand Millennium Al Wahda
FAVOURITE DAY OUT
Shortlisted: Ferrari World; Wadi Adventure
Liquid Rain by Mai Café, Aloft Abu Dhabi (below)
Shortlisted: Cinnabar, Hilton Abu Dhabi; O1NE, Yas Island
Natalie Brogan (above)
Shortlisted: Chris Delaney; DJ Angelo
FAVOURITE LADIES’ NIGHT
The Yacht Club, InterContinental Abu Dhabi
Shortlisted: Jazz Bar & Dining, Hilton Abu Dhabi; Y Bar, Yas Island Rotana
FAVOURITE MUSIC EVENT
The Rolling Stones, du Arena, Yas Island
Shortlisted: Justin Timberlake, du Arena, Yas Island; Rihanna, du Arena, Yas Island
FAVOURITE SPORTING EVENT
Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Shortlisted: Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship; Mubadala World Tennis Championship