“Food is a necessity; but it should also be a pleasure. Our creations, our menu; it’s an experience, flavour, colour, presentation and delivery, designed to be shared and enjoyed together.” Sergio Arola
You know it’s going to be a good night when you turn up to a glitzy black and white themed party unaware of the dress code but wearing a black and white outfit completely by chance! Giving myself an internal high-five, I grabbed a glass of bubbly and walked purposefully (as best I could in my very high heels) to find a familiar face or two, joining the throngs of media glitterati from Abu Dhabi and Dubai who were all in town to attend the much publicised opening of P&C by two-Michelin star chef Sergi Arola, his new restaurant baby and first foray into the Middle East restaurant scene.
Already an existing fan of the snazzy Pearls and Cavier, the two-storey standalone venue at the Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, I was very excited to attend this launch party ahead of its official opening the following day. Tables had been removed in the dining area and the space had been transformed into a haven of all things Spanish for the event with tapas, fabulous flamenco dance displays accompanied by free-flowing bubbles, a fancy gin bar and a live jazz band.
So what’s new at Pearls and Caviar? Well for a start it’s now to be known as P&C by Sergi Arola and offers a Mediterranean inspired menu that will be served in the ground floor dining room replacing the seafood offerings that it was previously known for. A Gin Bar has taken up residence at the rooftop open air bar serving a variety of cleverly infused gins, the perfect accompaniment to Arola’s tapas sharing menu. Whether there for dinner or just drinks, guests can enjoy the relaxing and uplifting tones of Latin Jazz as JazzArabia.com, the region’s first music station dedicated to the genre will fill the air live from the restaurant, how cool is that?
Arola is by reputation a flamboyant man with a passion for food and his accomplishments have been rewarded with not one but two of the acclaimed Michelin stars, the global hallmark of fine dining quality. With experience across Europe, South America and South Asia, Arola is about to mix up the already highly competitive gastronomy scene here in the capital with P&C’s eclectic menu offering diners a wide range of taste sensations, using the freshest ingredients and as it’s tapas of course it’s designed to share. The new menu offers up Arola’s take on classic tapas dishes or ‘Pica Pica’ as it’s known in Barcelona, such as Patatas Bravas (my personal fave), Steak Tartare and also his special adaption of rice dishes, paella and risottos and so much more.
Barcelona born rhythm guitarist turned chef, Arola first found his love of food when as a fussy child he adapted recipes to suit his palette while living with his grandparents then learnt his trade working in many restaurants, perfecting his skills working for renowned chefs Pierre Gagnaire from France and Spain’s Ferran Adrià (who has been called the world’s greatest chef). He took charge of his first restaurant La Broche in Madrid and now has eight restaurants bearing his name across the globe, offering his own unique and signature style gourmet tapas and drinks in Spain, Portugal, Sao Paulo, Istanbul, Mumbai and Switzerland and now of course the UAE.
Sadly I didn’t get to try a great deal of the menu but the things I did sample were very good, Asparagus tips and Cheese Croquettes (originally given chicken by mistake so the fishes got a meaty treat). The desserts were more forthcoming and delicious but my white jacket and the chocolate pudding had an unfortunate clash! Just as things were really getting going the other half turned up with our newly landed guests (literally off the plane and whisked straight to a party) just in time for the last amazing Flamenco display. We all made our way upstairs to the after party at the gin bar on the upper deck where top chef Arola had discarded his chef whites and was now the DJ, is there no end to this man’s talents and charm !?!
P&C is all about giving the guest an experience to remember and if the coolest launch party ever is anything to go by than it’s without a shadow of a doubt the new place to be in Abu Dhabi. So if you like tapas, gin and jazz this is most definitely the place for you, add in the Shangri-La’s exceptionable level of service and the stunning views this contemporary venue offers across the Khor Maqta waterfront to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from both levels then really it would be rather rude of you not to give it a try. This venue has always been highly placed on our visitor ‘must-do’s (even when they are fresh off a plane) and I suggest you take yours too, pronto.
P&C by Sergi Arola
Location: Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri entrance or Villas entrance
Telephone: 02 509 8777
Operating Hours: Picas-Picas Brunch ~ Friday 1pm – 4pm, Dinner (Sat – Thurs) 7pm – 11.30pm (Fri) 8pm – 11.30pm
Facebook: P&C by Sergi Arola Twitter/Instagram: pncbysergiarola
I was invited to attend this event but all the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Additional photo credits:www.sergiarola.es/www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/J.Bowen