Intimate indoor dining meets airy alfresco elegance at this Africa-inspired wonder…

It’s been a couple of months since we brought you the first look of this incredible, visually appealing collection upon its debut in the capital. The wildly successful Flamingo Room by tashas brought with it a reputation of vibrant interiors, sparkling decor, intricate detail and a stirring, vivacious menu, long hailed by our neighbours in Dubai. So, we were just as intrigued, curious, and admittedly impatient to see what the rest of the collection packed when it arrived at the capital.

What do you look for when you walk through the doors of a new concept? Is it intimate interiors, a cosy bar and subtle hues that cradle your booth as you sip cocktails? Are you celebrating a special occasion that has you sidling up comfortably in a corner, tucking into delicious portions of healthful creations as you overlook glittering skyscrapers and moonlit waters?

Whichever you seek, step through the doors of African Lounge, from the Flamingo Collection at Abu Dhabi’s The Galleria Al Maryah Island.  This capital-debuted concept is, in some ways, the stunning antithesis to the neighbouring Flamingo Room. Dark, earthy tones envelop you as you flip page after page of a carefully designed, cleverly crafted menu in a serene setting where class is as much an undertone as it is an overtone.

Abu Dhabi’s signature island mugginess is melting away when we arrive, and we’re seated at the airy terrace overlooking the cityscape of Al Maryah Island. Round tables, umbrellas, wildlife-inspired drink glasses. The detail is minute, and we catch all of it.

We’re served the Grilled Bao and Spiced Butter (Dhs26), and the rich, indulgent Malay latter is guilty of causing us to treat our bread like a main. Several dunks, dabs and nibbles later, the delightful and decadent flavours powering the African Lounge come to life in a second starter, the Miso Grilled Aubergine (Dhs60). We’ve opted to go light this evening, and the service staff enthusiastically guarantee we’ll still be spoiled for choice. A tastebud-tingling, succulent Tomato Salad (Dhs66) is next, prepared with heirloom tomatoes, flavour-soaked tahini yoghurt, lemon vinaigrette, and a selection of other flavourful additions.

Seaside indulgence would be incomplete without a seafood special, and the Calamari Sosaties (Dhs146) aptly makes its way to our table, with fresh herb salsa, lime aioli and picked red chilli culminating in a delightful balance. We bid goodbye to our resolution of going light this evening, and wrap things up with the Butternut Curry (Dhs58) with crispy kale and tomato chips, and finally the Prawn Arancini (Dhs58), a hearty seafood special with julienne sambal salad. What a mix of titillating flavours.

Well-established names on the premium hospitality scene carry stacked statuses, and expanding to newer locations naturally warrants expectations. Get ready to have yours superseded at African Lounge, by the Tashas Group.

What’s On Verdict: Your introduction to the charms of African Lounge is a precursor of imminent brand loyalty.

African Lounge, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. Mon to Thu 12pm to 11.45pm, Fri to Sun 12pm to 12.45am. Tel: (0)2 675 9302. @african_lounge

Images: supplied