“A modern farm-to-table restaurant, Market Kitchen evokes alluringly familiar local cuisine and reinvents classic dishes with eclectic flair, producing unexpected flavour combinations to remarkable effect.” Justin Galea, Executive Chef at Market Kitchen.
We took a step back in time on Friday night when we ventured over to the Le Royal Méridien Hotel on the Corniche to celebrate the eldest son getting his university degree results that came through earlier in the week (insert huge dose of pride and big sigh of relief here). With so many new hotels to choose from we have been spoilt for choice over the past five years and this particular older establishment on the Abu Dhabi dining scene never comes up on our radar until now. It reminds me of when I first arrived and we had an average brunch at the revolving restaurant at the top and even more average dinner at the Italian restaurant. The twenty-five year old hotel has completed two years of extensive renovations and the reason for choosing it for the celebration dinner was the addition of its new concept restaurant, Market Kitchen.
Contemporary Art on display in the entrance and lobby area with sculptures showcasing the varied languages spoken in the UAE
The lobby has been completely transformed and is now a striking affair, completely unrecognisable from previous visits, with trendy styling and contemporary artwork coupled with lots of white spaces that resemble a cool art gallery. Le Méridien Hub and Latitude Bar, a cafe by day and a lobby bar by night invites you in with it’s aesthetically pleasing colours, as you negotiate your way through the fast revolving doors. Market Kitchen sits to the right of the lobby and this two-level restaurant complete with full-size Olive tree in the centre is a trendy concern offering diners American cuisine in an upmarket setting, I honestly felt like I had walked into a chic New York eatery.
The exterior and interior of Market Kitchen
The decor is simple but effective, warm lighting and modern wooden flooring meets sleek furniture and comfy sofas surrounded by exposed white brick walls with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with coordinating trinkets and kitchen artefacts. Service was prompt and attentive and the whole place had a great vibe, I particularly liked the busy chefs visible to the diners as they created dishes at their open kitchen work counter.
The eclectic trendy interior of Market Kitchen
Cheers to the eldest for achieving his degree
The modern American menu has touches of Asian inspiration evolving from its French-fusion beginnings under the influence of French three Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who originally introduced the Market Kitchen concept to the culinary marketplace in Paris and then Boston. The Abu Dhabi version of the restaurant chains menu is unique in that along with its signature dishes, it’s influenced by local produce making the most of the UAE grown ingredients as well as using sourced fresh seasonal food from around the globe. Not only is Market Kitchen new to Abu Dhabi it’s also the first restaurant in UAE to be opened by the New York based Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group (CCHG) and the first to feature cuisine inspired by Vongerichten.
Pea Soup and Beef Carpaccio Pizza for starters
My pea soup was a strong vibrant green colour, simple but delicious as was the sour dough bread that accompanied it. The eldest opted for a favourite of Beef Carpaccio but served with a twist in the form of a light pizza. Our mains were Lamb Chops with Chick Pea fries and Date Onion Jam as a nod to the region, slow cooked Beef Short Rib was hungrily devoured by the other half with oos and ahhs and my beetroot and goats cheese salad, which was a little heavy on the beetroot and rocket and a bit too light on the goats cheese for my liking, was still tasty nonetheless.
Lamb with Chick Pea Fries and Date Onion Jam
Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs
Beetroot, Rocket and Goats Cheese Salad
Market Kitchen embraces the whole ‘farm-to-table’ concept that is so popular in designer New York and London establishments but previously missing from the Capital’s restaurant scene. I’m sure this venue will be embraced fully here once word is out after the summer, as it has been over in Doha, Qatar. It’s all about quality Ingredients sourced from the local fish market and farms and influenced by Arabian ingredients and spices that are popular in the local cuisine.
Simple modern interruption of homely styling
I was very impressed by the new look refurbished Le Royal Méridien (added bonus of a cheeky 20% off food and non-alcoholic beverages if you are a SPG Starwood card holder) and I will definitely be going back to try the all-day dining Café Palmier, the more casual dining outlet Bistro and Wheat, its new bakery. So you can teach an old dog new tricks after all, it’s really a necessity in the extremely competitive Abu Dhabi culinary scene to re-invent yourself when newer venues are snapping at your heels and this is definitely the case here.
The two-level restaurant offers diners a unique eating experience new to Abu Dhabi
The chef’s at work at open kitchen counter
Continuing the trip down memory lane we moved on to meet friends at Trader Vic’s in the Beach Rotana Hotel for cocktails, another venue from back in the early days. Known for its exceedingly strong beverages served in iconic cocktail crockery it didn’t disappoint. Strong and punchy drinks were served from the ‘Mai Tai Bar’ accompanied by the strains of the resident Cuban band. As if that wasn’t enough entertainment for one night we couldn’t pass McGettigans without popping in to meet two more sets of friends for a night-cap or two, well it would have been rude not too, wouldn’t it. Cue another late night and heavy head that depicted the start of another Abu Dhabi weekend.
Market Kitchen is open daily from 12pm to 3pm for lunch, a kitchen counter menu from 3pm – 7pm and for dinner from 7pm to 11pm. For reservations, call 800 101 101. To find out more and visit the website click here or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page here.
The Latitude Bar in the lobby
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved. Additional hotel photos used with courtesy of www.leroyalmeridienabudhabi.com