Review: Sayad at Emirates Palace
Bivalves are the stars on the Friday menu at Emirates Palace…
For a fine dining experience that doesn’t cost a car payment, Sayad at Emirates Palace has fashioned an exquisite prix fixe menu where the focus is on the best jewels of the sea.
As for the array of ways chef de cuisine Johannes Tafel has devised to serve these Fine de Claire oysters (which hail from the salt ponds of France’s Marenne-Oleron, the largest oyster-producing region in the world), if you are an oyster fan, this is where you need to be next Friday night.
Tafel has transformed Sayad’s menu and infused his creative touches in all the right places. This starts with the generous pat of butter we are served with our selection of rye, cranberry baguette and quinoa bread, which was covered with shimmering 24-carat gold leaf.
We are then served an array of oysters with flavour combinations neither of us could have even dreamed up. Of course, we had them plain, with vinegar and shallots, or a squeeze of lemon. Curry cream and roasted onions? Ponzu sauce and lime sorbet? Passion fruit, fennel and mango? Spicy, citrusy, salty delights, each one.
Having already been knocked off our oyster purists perch with Tafel’s previous cold creations, we tucked into some truly tasty hot toppings: Parmesan herb crust; chorizo baked with hollandaise sauce and Crispy veal bacon with butter and parsley. We were skeptical of oysters topped with melted butter and smoky tomato-chili sauce, which Tafel created at the suggestion of some American guests hailing from the deep south, but that was a winner too.
The evening ended as it began: with 24-carat gold leaf topping beautiful miniature ice cream cones in chocolate and rose water.
If the oyster array on the set menu isn’t enough for you (and we assure you, it will be) then make sure to take a little foray onto the Tafel’s main menu.
We interrupted our oyster parade with some tuna tartare, prepared tableside using dry ice with a delicious combination of shallot coriander olive oil, passion fruit, vinegar, lime zest and ginger (Dhs145). Stunning. Also highly recommended: the organic salmon fillet, served atop grilled leeks, with black olives and lemon butter sauce (Dhs205). Wagyu beef tenderloin, with roasted foie gras, creamy polenta and braised shallots and truffle jus (Dhs265).
The service at Sayad was nothing less than you would expect at a resort of Emirates Palace’s calibre: attentive, proactive and friendly, with Tafel frequently stopping to explain the dishes and have some inspired chat to each table throughout the evening. Who doesn’t love a visit from the chef?
Sayad, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. A Friday evening affair, featuring unlimited Fine de Claire Oysters. Fri 7pm to 11pm. From Dhs395 to Dhs595. Tel: (02) 6907999. mandarinoriental.com