Etoiles Restaurant at Emirates Palace Hotel - Abu Dhabi :Etoiles Abu Dhabi at Emirates Palace is a chic restaurant, lounge and club, which offers a combination of five-star fine dining and vibrant night entertainment options. Set picturesquely adjacent to the Arabian Sea, the restaurant features grand interiors, live performances, international DJ’s, award-winning artists and a popular European cuisine menu with a few innovations. The fusionist menu is devised by award winning; Michelin rated Chef, Dean Bouvet.
Coming to the menu, they had starters like tian of king crab and smoked salmon, warm confit of duck, warm salad of artichokes and honey glazed goats cheese; there was a small selection of pasta including lobster tagliatelle, risotto of prawn and scallion and roasted sweet potato that were available either as a starter or as a main course.
The mains ranged from steamed red mullet and steamed monkfish tail, roast of Australian lamb, red wine marinated duck breast and roast loin of Dutch milk-fed veal. Sides included mixed green salad, spring bean and pea mix and crushed celeriac, broccoli with toasted almonds to name a few.
We started with the sweet butternut squash soup with parmesan foam, sour apples and pine nuts for my dining partner and crisp tender baby squid rings with soft shelled crab, Japanese noodle salad and Thai dipping sauce for me. The soup was full of flavor, with the sweet squash and sour apple combination weaving its magic. The squid and crab were just as good with the chewy squid acting as the right contrast for the tender crab; the Thai dipping sauce was the perfect complement for both.
Our mains comprised handmade saffron tagliatelle, lobster, courgette and lime and chilli for my partner. I opted for the pan roasted American Black Angus rib-eye steak, with sweet potato chips and a delicious mushroom sauce.
The tagliatelle turned out to be good. The rib-eye I ordered as medium rare came out a solid medium; however, with the mushroom sauce it still tasted very good.
The prices are a bit on the high side: Lobster Tagliatelle -170 AED ($46.00), Rib-Eye 180 AED ($49.00), Squid and Crab 80 AED ($22.00), two glassed of Moet Rose Champagne for over $80.00! I need to remember this is Abu Dhabi and the cost for fine dining is always on the high end.
We ate out on the balcony as the restaurant was about to turn into a club/disco (the club opens at 10.00PM) for the night and we wanted a quieter atmosphere. The setting on the balcony was not as glamorous as the inside. It felt a bit too cramped and informal for my liking.
The service was less than five-star. The waiting staff hovered over us, apparently in the hope that we would eat quickly and leave. While it was attentive, we felt a tad too rushed, which actually took away from the experience.
The wine list was extensive with a large listing of both new and old world wines, and as one can expect in all of the Middle East, the wine prices were very much on the high side. Nonetheless, having a nice bottle of wine when in the region is almost priceless.
For dessert, we dug into a fresh vanilla bean rice pudding with blueberry compote and blueberry biscotti. It was nice but it tasted routine and commercial, nothing different from what you could have sampled at hundreds of other eateries all over the world.
The food was nice but not outstanding, the service was rushed and the value for money was just not very good. The food simply wasn’t extraordinary enough to merit such steep prices. The place is more suitable for late night revelers who love their cocktails and don’t care much about the food or the ambiance. Overall our experience was between bombastic and not.
What I liked: the sweet butternut squash soup and the squid and crab preparation.
What I didn’t like: the rushed service, the over-priced food and the atmosphere at the balcony dining area.