Is there bite to this café or is it just for looking glam on the ‘Gram?

At the time of writing, Barbie-mania had taken over the UAE. The latest movie release has the entire country in a pink-hued frenzy with restaurants jumping aboard the Barbie train with pink-themed drinks, afternoon teas and even brunches.

However, one cafe in the capital did not need the launch of Barbie to attract the pink-loving crowds, although it has probably helped. Standing out in its shimmering rosy hue at the waterfront district of Yas Island, a stone’s throw away from Etihad Arena, is the long-awaited Abu Dhabi iteration of EL&N, which stands for ‘Eat, Live & Nourish.’

The pink signage is impossible to miss, vibrantly standing out against the setting sun. Glamourous ladies strike a number of poses in front of the café, and the snap-happy action continues indoors.


Once inside, it feels like we’ve fallen inside the pages of a teen’s pink-obsessed scrapbook with hanging neon hearts, flowers, and quotes. The pink barista counter at the back sits under a huge melting magenta disco ball, and the dessert counter at the centre showcases sweet treats from cakes, tarts, macaroons and more.

The prettiness of it all is a lot to take in, and yet it somehow still feels like just the right amount (excluding the strangely placed retail outlet).

It’s the weekend and seats are filling up as the sun sinks against the picturesque backdrop of Yas Marina. Around us, couples, families and groups sit within the vibrant pink surrounds, sipping on drinks, snapping photos, and tucking into equally  ‘Gram-worthy meals.

The menu on offer mirrors the café’s DIFC branch in Dubai. We sip on a refreshing mojito (Dhs45) – served in a chemex glass – before hailing down a waiter to order our meals.

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The crunchy halloumi bites (Dhs57) come with a spicy harissa mayo sauce, which we enjoy,  though we wish the truffle fries (Dhs30) had more parmesan and truffle to really feel the flavours. We opted for the eggs Benedict (Dhs65) prepared with pesto sauce instead of hollandaise, crunchy turkey bacon, and a thick English muffin which needs to be reconsidered, as the overpowering density dried out the dish.

risotto EL&N

The chicken saffron risotto (Dhs85) was intriguing, but the flavours didn’t work for us, and we concluded that the classic Italian rice dish is truly one not to be tampered with.

We lost the battle of ‘to dessert, or not’, opting for the tiramisu (Dhs45), which looked a little dry but thankfully wasn’t. The strawberry cake (Dhs42) earned a spot in our photo gallery with its four layers of vanilla cake and pretty pink frosting, though we missed the sweet flavour punch.

What’s On Verdict: Memorable interior and with a little fine-tuning, the experience will match its shiny outer appearance.

EL&N Cafe, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 12pm. Tel: (0)2 883 9395.