“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!” The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
Oversized clocks, birdcages, butterflies, candles, glass tea pots filled with bright liquids, ‘Drink Me’ potions and ‘Eat Me’ canapes, servers dressed as the white rabbit, dry ice and fluorescent colours were all part of the magic of Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice in Wonderland story, brought to life over Easter weekend at P & C by Sergi Arola located at the Shangri-la Hotel Abu Dhabi.
Curiouser and curiouser you may think, why did a Spanish restaurant decide to reenact the tales of a British childhood classic. Well look no further than a pastry chef with a vivid imagination and a vintage copy of the beautifully black and white illustrated Alice’s Cook Book, a fun portrayal of Wonderland inspired culinary art first published in 1976. Young creative pastry chef Daria let her imagination run wild and transformed this standalone restaurant into a fanciful scene straight from down the rabbit hole with a menu to match, all slightly outlandish just like the story itself.
The custom-designed menu was available for three days, blending an array of Spanish creations true to the restaurant’s concept by Head Chef Antonio and Chef Daria with the eccentric tale of Alice and the ‘Mad Hatter. Proceedings began with ‘Drink Me’ and ‘Eat Me’ snacks, ‘Drink Me’ was miniature glass vials filled with colourful liquids varying in flavour from turkey stock, brown butter (beurre noisette), toffee, pineapple, and cherry. ‘Eat Me’ was either salty or pepper meringues, all served at the bar amidst teapots steaming with dry ice and playing cards hanging from above and a jolly nice coloured gin cocktail welcome drink.
Our table was set with artificial grass panels, pebbles and white china tea pots filled with red splattered white roses, our very own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. First up was the White Rabbit Appetizer, marinated scallop with asparagus, pistachio, ‘very wild’ sage, crunchy macadamia nut and trout roe and for the vegetarians, Asparagus from ‘the ground’ to the table from the a la carte menu.
The ‘Not Too Much Pepper’ Soup and Something else was the second course, a slow cooked humpty dumpty scotch egg with truffle bread, unseasonal green peas and morilles topped with poultry consomme (without the consomme for the veggies). A cod loin from ‘fish footman’ was served in a ‘royal message envelope’ with a Catalan twist accompanied by a secret garden, a large lotus leaf with various types of spinach, leeks and carrots and herbs. The milk fed lamb was ‘smoked by the great Caterpillar’ served with magic spring mushrooms and ajo blanco air with a demi juice glace. The vegetarians had a tasty seasonal vegetable paella served at the table in a large cast iron pan.
Dessert was Chef Daria’s piece de resistance, a three part finale showcasing her creative genius. First off was the pre-dessert o’clock of a ‘Cup of Tea’ served on a flower and diamond garden, edible white chocolate tea cups filled with darjeeling tea foam and spoons presented on a mirrored platter and garnished with bright flowers and tiny liquid droplets that shone like diamonds. The “Queen of Hearts Tart” was an artistic masterpiece as well as tasting divine, lucky for us the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts in the book didn’t get near our dessert. Four tarts were served on a large white canvas splattered with edible strawberry ‘paint’ complemented by pink pepper ice-cream and individual paint tubes for us to get arty.
The Mad Hatter’s top hat with bright pink candyfloss hair (cotton candy or fairy floss depending on your country) was the final dish of the evening, a spun sugar treat to complete our experience. A playful concept through the looking glass that was well executed, the attention to detail was incredible and I have not experienced anything like it before in the capital. The Spanish flavours were abundant, the service was attentive and Jazz Arabia provided smooth background tunes, a good evening was had by all at P & C celebrating Good Friday in style.
P & C by Sergi Arola
Location: Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri
Telephone: 02 509 8777
Operating Hours: Dinner (Saturday – Thursday) 7pm – 11.30pm, Dinner (Friday) 8pm – 11.30pm, Picas-Picas Friday Brunch: 1pm – 4pm
Read more about P&C by Sergi Arola in previous posts P&C by Sergi Arola Launch Party, All That Jazz and Cocktails With Cihan Anadologlu at P & C Bar, Shangri-La Abu Dhabi
I was invited to this event. All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.