Fact Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2016

Crazy thing is all these meals have sent my appetite into overdrive.Greg Hughes, CEO Fact Magazine

It was the second annual Fact Dining Awards last week and I was honoured to be asked to be on the judging panel again this year for the ‘Best’ in category. Nominated were a selection of the capital’s finest restaurants, bars, lounges and cafes celebrating everything the extensive range of fabulous venues have to offer diners in Abu Dhabi. 

I make no bones of the fact that Fact is my favourite Abu Dhabi lifestyle monthly magazine. The gender neutral publication has been made quite a splash in the capital’s media scene over the past two years, Editor-in-chief Shabana Adams and her fab team are adept at covering all things happening in the capital. Arts and culture, fashion and dining, hospitality and technology to travel and motoring are all featured as well as the latest events, all wrapped up in a contemporary and arty design with eye-catching covers on every edition.

As well as featuring the latest trends and the happenings Fact brings something different to the market that other more frequent publications do not offer. It is also a keen supporter of the developing local arts scene promoting the capital’s urban art and music scene. I am a tad old school preferring to buy the publication every month (and keeping them) even though it’s readily available online.

IMG_7877-2Just like last year’s event the awards ceremony itself was an informal affair with the effervescent and charismatic Fact CEO Greg Hughes at the helm. Over the eighty days leading up to the awards ceremony Hughes undertook an epic one-man eating challenge visiting the one hundred and twenty nominated venues and eating a meal at each one. As well as enjoying everything the capital’s most popular establishments had to offer Hughes was raising money for local breast cancer awareness charity, the Pink Caravan. For every venue Hughes ticked off his mammoth list he has pledged a donation of  AED 100 to the charity, asking each venue to match his donation.

Hughes started the challenge with a weigh-in at the end of January, personally pledging a further AED 5000 to the charity if he weighed more than his starting weight of 86.5kg on the day of the awards, let’s just say his bank account will be lighter by said amount this week. His foodie journey that sometimes started with afternoon tea for breakfast was well documented throughout on Twitter.

Abu Dhabi’s ever expanding dining scene was celebrated in style with categories for every possible type of cuisine as well as brunches, alfresco dining, in-mall and family orientated dining options . The ‘Best’ in category was selected by an independent panel of Abu Dhabi bloggers (like myself) and industry experts while the ‘Favourites’ were chosen via online public votes. Fifty-four awards were given out in twenty-seven categories including the prestigious top overall ‘Best’ and ‘Favourite’ restaurant in the city won by Zuma and Asia de Cuba respectively.

The two winners in each category were announced by Hughes and  appeared on screen, trophies were collected from the back of the room after all the announcements were finished. The respective winners were then encouraged to have their photos taken in front of the Fact wall to mark the occasion. It really was quite a stylish affair at Byblos Sur Mer (a winner themselves in the Best Newcomer category), the standalone Lebanese restaurant at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi which overlooks the marina against a backdrop of the surrounding illuminated towers. An evening of culinary delights from executive chef Dany Katar and the Byblos team was well received by the packed room of hotel and industry professionals as well as many of the nominated chefs themselves who stepped out if their kitchen for the event.

Here’s the list of this year’s Fact Dining Award 2016 winners which might give you an idea of where to dine in the capital if you need a recommendation, maybe you need new ideas of where to take your visitors or just need a different place to brunch. Maybe try something new from this list o just take a look to see how many of your favourites made the cut.

CATEGORY BEST FAVOURITE
INTERNATIONAL
Market Kitchen Trader Vic’s
Le Royal Meridien Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi
ITALIAN
Circo Villa Toscana
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi St. Regis Abu Dhabi
MEDITERRANEAN
The Beach House 18 Degrees
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas Hyatt Capital Gate
FRENCH
Brasserie Angelique Bentley Bistro & Bar
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers The Galleria Mall
MIDDLE EASTERN
Li Beirut Sambusek
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Rosewood Abu Dhabi
SEAFOOD
Finz Sayad
Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace
CHINESE
Hakkasan Dai Pai Dong
Emirates Palace Rosewood Abu Dhabi
SOUTH EAST ASIAN
Li Jiang Cho Gao
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi
THAI
Benjarong Silk & Spice
Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
INDIAN
Angar Indigo
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi
JAPANESE
Zuma Koi Restaurant & Lounge
Al Maryah Island The Collection, St.Regis Saadiyat
LATIN AMERICAN
Asia de Cuba El Sombrero
St. Regis Abu Dhabi Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort
STEAKHOUSE
The Foundry Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill
Southern Sun Abu Dhabi Fairmont Bab al Bahr
ALL-DAY DINING
Rosewater Silk Route Café
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi
CAFÉ
Jones the Grocer Fifth Street Café
Various Locations Courtyard by Marriott WTC Abu Dhabi
TEA ROOM
Alba The Chocolate Gallery
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal Fairmont Bab al Bahr
PUB
Cooper’s Bar & Restaurant Captain’s Arms
Park Rotana Abu Dhabi Le Meridien Abu Dhabi
BAR/LOUNGE
Stratos Stills Bar & Brasserie
Le Royal Meridien Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island
COFFEE HOUSE
The Coffee Club Tim Horton’s
Various Locations Various Locations
IN-MALL
Leopold’s of London Biryani Pot
Various Locations The Galleria Mall
POOLBAR
Shades Nahaam
The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
FRIDAY BRUNCH
Olea Friday Marina Brunch
The St. Regis Saadiyat Resort Intercontinental Abu Dhabi
FAMILY-FRIENDLY
No.57 Boutique Café Al Bathna
Al Marasy Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel
FAMILY-FRIENDLY FRIDAY BRUNCH
Munch The Family Brunch Giornotte
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal
NEWCOMER
Byblos sur Mer Barfly by Buddha Bar
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi Venetian Village Abu Dhabi
AL FRESCO DINING
BBQ Al Qasr Vasco’s
Emirates Palace Hilton Abu Dhabi
RESTAURANT
Zuma Asia de Cuba
Al Maryah Island St. Regis Abu Dhabi

I was invited to attend the Fact Dining Awards. All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved. Two photos used courtesy of Fact Magazine Abu Dhabi.

Read more about the Fact Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2015 here