“I’d much rather hang out in a cafe. That’s where things are really happening.” Joe Sacco
My arrival back in the land of sand in mid-December coincided with my birthday (don’t even ask how old, it’s now just a couple of numbers in the wrong order) so that called for more eating and drinking on the back of a two week trip overseas, not good but also oh so good at the same time and pressies too, which are always wonderful.
The teenager and I had a late Birthday lunch after school at a new boutique café which has been on my radar since it opened at the end of October in the Al Marasy Development in the Bateen Marina. Emirati duo Buthaina Al Mazrui and Alamira Noor Bani Hashim, who co-founded the hugely successful invite-only Dinner Club by No. 57 back in 2012, developed their café idea while holding their dinner experiences in unique locations which have much sought-after places on the guest list.
Shelves of quirky disarray (source:www.no57.co)
There’s no doubt that the café is a chic and sophisticated affair tastefully decorated in black and white, where quirky touches like bookshelves filled with higgledy-piggledy stacked books with spines in pages out (played havoc with my OCD) and moose heads, cactuses, monochrome prints and artefacts sit alongside heavy classic silver cutlery and white napkins.
Bearing in mind we had family Birthday dinner to come later that evening we opted for a one-course lighter lunch option, well I did anyway teenager had her usual burger fix. I chose a Potato Tart Tatin with goats cheese and cherry tomatoes served with peppery rocket leaves from the starter/sharing menu accompanied with a delightful latte. The teenager had the No.57 Cheese Burger presented in a large silver tray with fries and tomato chill jam, which I’m told was nice and tasty.
The menu is filled with simple and classic dishes using fresh local and seasonal ingredients and offers Breakfast, Starters/Sharing, Soups, Salads & Sandwiches, Main Courses and Desserts accompanied by a Drinks menu offering a selection of hot and cold beverages as well as juices.
I will definitely be making a return visit to check out the latest additions to the menu and I have my eye on trying No. 57’s signature dessert, the ‘Ermahgerd‘ a calorific sounding toffee crumble, cream with roasted marshmallows (made from Al Mazrui’s secret recipe) which I’ve read lots about. Unbeknown to me our visit coincided with the official opening day so the kitchen was closing early (we were politely informed by staff) in preparation for the event which from the look of social media was a great success.
So overall in my opinion the café offers great food and attentive service (not all the reviews I’ve read have been glowing shall we say) with a tranquil view across the water from our table by the window. I loved the quirky touches including the bill presented as ‘The Damage’.
On the downside, the location in an ongoing construction area means that parking was a nightmare as I dodged reversing trucks trucks, buses filled with labours and so many taxis and eventually abandoned my car on the side of a dusty street. It was not unexpected as our boat is kept there and the area has undergone extensive and much needed redevelopment over the last six years and obviously this will not be forever……..
For all those busy folk who want to avoid parking issues or haven’t got time to sit around relaxing, No.57 café also offers a delivery service in Abu Dhabi as well as catering options for private dining and corporate events. Despite being a newbie in town word has obviously spread as even at 3pm there was a steady stream of customers. I think the reputation of the owners successful dinner club project and good old social media have played their part in the buzz about this exciting venture and I see it as a welcome addition to the ever growing Abu Dhabi café culture.
Takeaway orders ready for delivery (source:Instagram/no57cafe)
No. Fifty Seven Boutique Café
Location: Building Two, Al Marasy, Al Bateen Marina.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 8am – 11pm and Friday/Saturday 9am to midnight.
Telephone: 02 441 6100
Facebook: No.Fifty Seven Boutique Cafe
For more information visit the No.57 Cafe website here
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014/2015. All rights reserved.