Celebrating A Year at Market Kitchen | Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

Emphasising comfort and creativity, the menu reinvents familiar dishes with an eclectic flair, allowing guests to try new flavour combinations and explore spices from other regions, all while remaining close to home.” Market Kitchen

We first visited Market Kitchen the fabulous modern American restaurant last June when it opened as part of the unveiling of the Le Royal Méridien Hotel’s extensive two-year refurbishment. I chose this venue, after reading about its debut on the Abu Dhabi restaurant scene, as the place to celebrate the good news of the eldest passing his university degree.

Since that initial visit I have frequented, this my favourite restaurant many times over the past twelve months both personally and for blog events. We have celebrated a family birthday, indulged in table brunches and dinners, taken visitors to experience the fantastic food and just recently celebrated the restaurant’s first anniversary commemorated by the unveiling of their Greatest Hits menu, featuring some of the best-selling dishes of the year. Blog events saw me mastering how to make cocktails (I’m better at drinking them to be fair) in the mezzanine bar, sample the Spice Market London takeover with Chef Peter Lloyd, enjoy the company and delicious food of celebrity chef Suzanne Husseni and last week sample the Iftar preview ahead of Ramadan, prepared by Head Chef Jordan Annabi.

IMG_2616So what sets Market Kitchen apart from its rivals on the capital’s competitive dining scene? For me it’s the attention to detail, the simple elegant setting, the fresh seasonal dishes featuring bold ingredients with a local influence and of course the unequivocal service, they have looked after me and my vegetarian needs so well in the past twelve months. This exposed brick Manhattan style double height space is still innovative in Abu Dhabi both in its design and the flavoursome food it serves. The decor is simple but effective, warm lighting and modern wooden flooring meets sleek furniture and comfy sofas, I love the quirky full-sized olive tree in the centre and the open show kitchen.

The modern American fare is inspired by touches of Asian influences that have evolved from its French-fusion beginnings created by French Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who introduced his Market Kitchen concept to the culinary marketplace in Paris and then Boston. Here in Abu Dhabi signature dishes are influenced by the quality UAE farm grown ingredients, local fish markets and by Arabian ingredients and spices as well as sourced fresh seasonal produce from around the globe. Our first visit gave us a taste of Market Kitchen’s ‘Farm-to-Table’ concept that is so popular in designer New York and London establishments but was previously missing from the Capital’s restaurant scene. Some of those dishes that we ate that night feature on the four-course tasting Greatest Hits menu that is available until the start of Ramadan (read about our first visit here From Farm to Table).

IMG_2613-2My next visit was after the summer break in September, an intimate gathering for a bloggers cocktail class with master mixologist Alex and the team of bar staff in the mezzanine bar. The evening of mixology introduced us to the art of bar tendering and how to mix cocktails and drinks of all varieties, shapes and colours, learning about those that are muddled, stirred and those that are shaken and most importantly sample them all. It was my first taste of Kumquat Mojitos and Lychee Raspberry Bellini, both of which went down far too easily, it was a tough evening but we all rose to the challenge (read about the cocktail evening here in Shaken or Stirred)

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Last October, Market Kitchen launched their now renowned table brunch concept, a unique and classy reinvention of brunch that does not even require you to leave your seat as all manner of cocktails and sharing platters arrive on the table in front of you. With impeccable service, a ridiculous amount of delicious food and non-stop cocktails from the extensive mixology menu, what’s not to love! The launch of brunch coincided with the arrival of Chef Annabi and everything was fantastic as expected and it was a refreshing change to be served rather than wandering around a vast buffet. Lots of the brunch dishes such as the popular Tuna Tartare, Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Warm Chocolate Cake also feature on the Greatest Hits menu too (Read about Market Kitchen’s table brunch here in Divine Dining).

IMG_2615We were back for the Spice Market London takeover early in the year when executive Chef Peter Lloyd visited the capital as part of the Abu Dhabi Food Festival to launch and showcase his menu. We sampled some of the restaurants mouth-watering take on Southeast Asian ‘street food’ as Spice Market, another of Vongerichten’s concepts was influenced by the colourful, flavoursome and fragrant cuisine found at Vietnamese street markets and Thai Food stalls from his travels in South East Asia (Read about the experience in Spice Up Your Life).

IMG_2614Probably my favourite event of the year was the collaboration with the rather fabulous Dubai-based celebrity chef Suzanne Husseini who teamed up with Head Chef Annabi to put her modern Arabic twist on the table brunch. A selection of us lucky folk got to sit down with Suzanne and her husband to enjoy her sensational food ahead of her five-week Modern Flavours of Arabia Friday brunch. Suzanne was an exceptional hostess and is hands down one of the loveliest and most charismatic people I have ever encountered. She oozed Arab hospitality and her passion about food shone through in all the dishes along with her basic need to feed people. We enjoyed her food and company so much that we took friends and visitors to the debut brunch to share our experience with them and it didn’t disappoint, everyone was super impressed and as an added bonus they got to meet Suzanne too (Read When Suzanne Cooks at Market Kitchen).

After enjoying the birthday celebrations with another amazing dinner last week, I was invited back to experience the Iftar Preview ahead of Ramadan starting next week. Much like the brunch the restaurant is offering a tasting menu to be served in unlimited sharing portions. The Iftar menu will feature a selection of classic Market Kitchen as well as Arabic dishes prepared by Head Chef Annabi and his team.

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We dined well on the three-course Break Fast menu featuring crispy halloumi, homemade ricotta, spring pea soup, Market Kitchen fattoush salad and my own special crispy sushi and a vegetarian pasta dish, see I told you they look after me! Lots for the meat eaters too including veal cheek, lamb kofta. roasted corn-fed chicken, braised beef short ribs and not forgetting sea bream and jumbo shrimps. Arabic flavoured desserts followed and of course no Iftar meal is complete with dates, these ones were marinated in Earl Grey tea, see the full Iftar menu here (Read more about the Iftar in my Ramadan Dining Preview)

I have throughly enjoyed dining my way through the year at Market Kitchen and it was an honour to be invited to share so many special events with them, I may have even raised a cheeky Kumquat Mojito or two to toast their success. I was pleased to be present to see them scoop the Best International restaurant at the recent FACT Magazine Dining Award and they have also deservedly picked up the What’s On Favourite Business Lunch and Time Out Abu Dhabi Highly commended award in last year. I love the casual family style of unpretentious dining at this restaurant, its elegant setting with good, quality delicious food using the freshest produce and unprecedented level of prompt and attentive service. If you haven’t already, I urge you to visit Market Kitchen at your earliest convenience.

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Market Kitchen

Location: Le Royal Méridien Hotel

Telephone: 02 695 0300

Website: www.marketkitchenabudhabi.com

Twitter ~ @MarketKitchenAD/Facebook ~ Market Kitchen/Instagram ~ MarketKitchenAbuDhabi

Greatest Hits menu, a four-course tasting menu available every day from 7 to 11 pm until Ramadan – AED 199 net per person

Break Fast Iftar, a three-course sharing menu served every day from 7pm to 11pm during Ramadan – for AED 199 net per person (See all menus here)

Market Kitchen will be closed for lunch from Saturday 13th June 2015 until the end of Ramadan. From the 18th June, the full restaurant will be open from Iftar time – 11pm (Saturday – Wednesday) and Iftar time – 12 midnight (Thursday & Friday).

All the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. Some photos used courtesy of Market Kitchen.