“The restaurant, bar, lounge and supper club at Venetian Village revives the buzz of its original celebrity hangouts in LA and Paris.” Barfly by Buddha Bar
Glamorous and edgy are two adjectives that spring to mind when describing award winning Barfly by Buddha Bar located at the Venetian Village, having been previously on a few occasions for just drinks and bar bites I was looking forward to trying the full dinner experience.
The Barfly concept, part of George V Eatertainment group who created Buddha Bar, opened their first Barfly venue in Paris in 1996. Barfly here in the capital is a glamorous two-storey location where Parisian chic meets the Middle East offering a supper club, bar and restaurant. The sumptuous interior decor is described as neo-baroque meets industrial, a dark and sultry palette of black, red and gold adorned with large theatrical artwork and sculpture. Outside is a large charming waterside terrace area where shisha is also available. Known for its creative cocktails, Barfly Abu Dhabi’s bar menu features fifteen signature cocktails grouped into five different families of three drinks, two alcoholic and one non-alcoholic in each family.
The Far-Eastern inspired International menu may not be too easy on the wallet but it does offer lots of choice. In fact so many options that one of our two very knowledgable servers suggested we try a selection of appetisers to share served tapas style. Meanwhile our drinks arrived, a flamboyant spectacle of a smoking bell jar that housed a cocktail and mocktail from the Smoke in the Woods section of the menu. A Rock and Sweet for the other half, a blend of rum, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit, coriander and rose syrup and a non-alcoholic refreshing mix of apple juice, kaffir lime leaves, ginger infused honey and lime juice aka the Soft Thai Fashioned for myself as the designated driver for the evening.
The tapas selection included sushi and vegetarian sushi served on a bed of ice and topped with a flaming candle that resembled a piece of edible art, it certainly got ten out of ten for making an impression. A large silver tray filled with glass dishes offered a mix of dim sum, prawns, calamari, Chinese vegetable spring rolls, steamed edamame beans and exotic green salad all of which combined with the sushi was a varied and filling start to the meal.
The other half had his best ever Miso cod in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and has been searching ever since to find one that matches up. Sadly even though the tropical Barfly Miso cod is marinated for a few days and is well presented it didn’t reach the dizzy heights of his American benchmark (I’m not sure one ever will). Having said that he still enjoyed it and polished off every last morsel, it was well cooked and served with buttered broccolini. If there is a burrata salad on any menu I struggle to look past it to order anything else, the Barfly version was delicious, the creamy cheese was well paired with a tangy pesto, fresh juicy cherry tomatoes and crunchy pine nuts.
Like the appetisers we were offered a sharing dessert creation served on a bowl of ice so we could try a selection. Another arty creation it had a selection of colourful exotic fruits surrounded by miniature portions of different flavoured mochi ice creams, raspberry cheesecake and my personal favourite a dark and bitter slither of chocolate cake topped with sweet fried banana (yep I definitely ate both portions of that little sweet treat).
The Venetian Village is always a pleasant place to dine, the replica Italian architecture and waterfront piazza is reminiscent of being on holiday especially at night when diners are seated outside enjoying an alfresco meal. The Barfly terrace is a picturesque setting on the shores of Khor Al Maqta where boats ferry guests across the water, the smell of sweet shisha fills the air and the restaurant had a nice vibe. It was really pleasing to see every table in eyeshot filled with guests on a Monday evening, in fact most of the restaurant terraces were busy we noted as we wandered back to the valet stand.
I had heard mixed reviews about all aspects of dining at Barfly but I can honestly say we had some of the most well-informed and professional service in Abu Dhabi combined with uniquely presented and tasty food, the overall experience was first-rate. Recommendations were spot on, the menu is a fine balance between Asian influenced dishes and Western favourites, the creative chefs excelling themselves at both presentation and flavours on every dish we sampled. Maybe we were just lucky but based our experience I would recommend that you give it a go, especially if you are looking to impress a loved one or have visitors in town.
Barfly by Buddha Bar
Location: Venetian Village at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal
Opening hours: 6:00pm till late
Telephone: 02 404 1951
Opening Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 6pm – 2am | Thursday 6pm – 3am | Friday 4pm – 3am | Saturday 4pm – 1am
Sushi Social – An evening of flavour-packed sensation of delicious sushi, sashimi, maki rolls and so much more with free-flow of house beverages. Every Sunday | 8pm – midnight | AED 165* per person. DJ Angelo will keep you entertained from 10pm
Soleil Vista – Enjoy delicious tapas platters and bottomless house-beverages Saturday – Tuesday | 6pm – 8pm | AED 99* including free-flowing house beverages
Aphrodite Ladies Night – Ladies enjoy free-flowing house beverages and 50% food discount | Every Wednesday from 6pm – 1am
*Prices are subject to 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee and 4% municipality fee.
I was invited to dine at Barfly. All views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.