A hot new restaurant opens in the capital…

Relax@12 at Aloft Abu Dhabi has gone. Long live Brick Rooftop Kitchen & Bar.

What a transformation, too.

Gone are the purple-hued lights and table orbs, now replaced with an upscale-earthy décor. Think climbing green vines, wood and brick. Real candles burn in lanterns on each table and nondescript background beats have been replaced by a lively musical duo. The result is a far more welcoming and authentic alfresco space. On the Thursday night we visit, the crowd is a bit older: a mix of friends meeting for dinner and duos out to hear some live music.

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The restaurant’s centrepiece are two wood ovens – named Henry and Henrietta – that are fed with oak, cedar and olive wood and stoked all night long, casting a welcoming glow across the rooftop, and it’s here where everything on the menu is cooked.

We started our meal with some rustic sourdough bread, served with a warm onion butter. On a cool night, it’s utter perfection. Pair the bread with some gambas (Dhs65 for a small), and you’re onto a winner. Served in a square cast-iron pan fresh from the oven, the five shrimp lathered in butter, sautéed garlic and chopped parsley are perfect for soaking up with bread.

The cedar plank Norwegian salmon (Dhs85) was flagged as a highlight by our server. Perfectly prepared, it was a delight to gather each piece of tender salmon and layer it with a sliver of carmelised lemon, and a dab of smooth garlic aioli. We were less taken with the braised beef short ribs pie (Dhs55 for a half serving). Served in the same sort of cast-iron pan as the gambas, the short ribs were paired with a beef cassoulet and topped by a browned roast potato mash. The entire dish was meant to be eaten with a side dish of pickled shallots but ultimately the final taste and flavours just didn’t match up to the deliciousness of the fish.

Even desserts get the brick oven treatment. We ordered s’mores (Dhs35 for a small, good enough for two) and while we found the chocolate underneath the melted marshmallow a little too liquid for our tastes, the combination with crunchy Graham crackers is still a winner.

Aloft Hotel Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Daily 5pm to 12am. Tel: (02) 6545000. marriott.com