DINING

Island soirée

Dreamy views, tempting bites and creative infusions make Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi a go-to dining destination in the UAE capital. And during our recent visit to this popular hangout on the shores of Saadiyat Island, we discover what makes it special

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi is no ordinary destination, this spectacular retreat goes above and beyond your expectations in every way, leaving you with a fierce urgency to return. During our recent visit to this property in the UAE capital, we discovered what truly sets the resort apart. And when you visit, we’re sure you’ll agree! 

The sprawling beachfront aside – think powdery white sands and crystal blue waters as far as the eye can see – the hotel is a dining destination in its own right. With a choice of six splendid venues serving up everything from classic Manhattan-style bites to signature Thai fare in a variety of settings, there’s plenty to choose from for every meal. But if something truly exceptional is on your mind, Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi is not to be missed. 

In a nutshell, the setting, cuisine and service are all on point. And one visit is all it takes to turn you into a loyal visitor. But from a renowned Parisian brand like Buddha-Bar, can you expect anything less than extraordinary? 

A name to be reckoned with on the global dining scene, the Abu Dhabi concept is the world’s first permanent Buddha-Bar. While seasonal venues appear every summer in swanky locales from the Maldives to Mykonos, we’re glad this capital hangout is open all year round, serving up the most delicious fare from lunch to supper on the tranquil shores of Saadiyat Island.

Buddha-Bar Beach lends itself to a variety of social occasions – whether you’re looking for the ideal lunchtime spot to tuck into some fine fare in between beach dips, ringing in a special celebration with a loved one or simply wanting to wind down your evening with friends while enjoying rounds of cocktails and delectable bites. Add the sights and sounds of the ocean to the mix and you have yourself the ideal setting for a memorable meal.

We visited on a Friday evening, after a relaxing afternoon soaking up the sun at the beach and couldn’t have asked for a better ending to our day. You can sense the buzz the moment you walk in with diners eager to try the restaurant’s culinary creations. 

One of the best ways to begin your meal is by securing a spot at the bar to watch the mixologists in action while they prepare some of the finest cocktails on the island to get you started. And that’s exactly what we did, after a warm welcome from the restaurant’s staff. Seated at the bar counter, we enjoyed every bit of the theatrics behind the scenes, as Alex, our bartender, whipped up two gorgeous-looking drinks after we shared our preferences – sweet for one, stronger for the other – leaving the choice of cocktails to him as the extensive menu is bound to leave you overwhelmed.

The Fifty Shades of Purple – a refreshing blend of sweet nectarine rum, lemon and cranberry juice – is enough to get you through the entire evening. Adding a spin to a classic and giving it a stronger character is the Red Fire Margarita – definitely one for the boys, thanks to the heady Thai-chili-infused tequila which serves as the main spirit. For those looking to keep it going all through the meal, your server will be more than happy to help with pairing suggestions from the extensive wine list.

Continuing our evening, we were ushered to a spot on the outdoor deck, overlooking both the beach and the entirety of the venue’s outdoor dining area. Dheeraj, our server, or DJ as he prefers to be known, familiarised us with the menu, highlighting all the signatures we simply had to try. 

And so we kicked things off with the ever-so-popular Buddha-Bar chicken salad, a staple at every Buddha-Bar across the globe. Created using almost 20 different types of ingredients, this classic dish combines tender chicken thighs grilled with five-spice powder, Chinese cabbage and a decadent sesame dressing. We have not been able to stop raving about this one! In fact, with such a generous portion, it is truly one of the most filling salads you can have.

Next up, we opted for the deep-fried calamari. But first, you should note that quantity is as much a focus as quality is at Buddha-Bar Beach and while you might be tempted to order everything that tickles your taste buds, taking it easy with your order is the smarter choice. But that’s what makes it great if you’re visiting with a large group, the portions are ideal for sharing. Back to our calamari, Buddha-Bar seemed to have the perfect formula to get the batter to a perfect crisp on the outside, keeping the squid incredibly tender and juicy on the inside. Foodie tip: ask for more of the smoky garlic and lemon yoghurt dip – it goes well with everything!

Our mains posed a bit of a challenge as the portions were simply too huge for two diners to devour in one sitting, and it won’t matter how hungry you are or how irresistible the flavours might be to your palate. Standing proudly on our table was the Queen of the Beach seafood platter, an enormous serving of 24 different pieces featuring fresh oysters, ceviche bowls, nigiri and sushi rolls. From spicy and crunchy tuna to salmon and avocado rolls, this will be an instant hit with sushi lovers. And for those who believe more is always better, there’s also the King of the Beach platter with twice the number of pieces including king crab legs and razor clams.

Although suitably satiated, we made sure to save room for dessert. And although we wanted to keep things light after all that indulgence, our server felt otherwise, presenting us with a large platter of Buddha-Bar Beach’s signature sweet treats. It was like our very own mini buffet on the table with a variety of delicacies that included a trio of cakes from chocolate to cheese and carrot, two different types of ice creams, a delicious coconut sorbet (which was our favourite) and the classic Japanese mochi. 

All in all, Buddha-Bar Beach saw us enjoy one of our most memorable nights out on the town and we’re sure you will, too! But do book your spot way in advance because tables fill fast here given that not many would like to miss their chance dining in one of the capital’s hottest hangouts. 

For more information or reservations  02 4988888 or buddhabarbeach.abudhabi@stregis.com

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