“Presentation on the plate is important. But as a chef I believe it is crucial to focus first on the flavours you are creating. And above all, respect the product.” Chef Christian Buenrostro
‘Vegan food that tastes as good as it looks’ succinctly sums up the new Raw Vegan menu launched earlier this month at Al Meylas aka ‘the living room of Abu Dhabi’ located in the heart of the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi. Created by experienced Executive Sous Chef Christian Buenrostro, the new menu offers nine expertly crafted dishes jam packed with colour and flavour.
More and more places are now offering vegan options, sometimes one or two dishes or maybe even a dedicated simple menu but I’ve seen nothing like the new additions to the Al Meylas menu. This menu is different, signature dishes that have been developed as a labour of love by the enthusiastic Buenrostro. Raw vegan is a speciality, a subset of veganism that combining vegan and raw food, where the food is cooked at lower temperatures no greater than 47 Celsius to preserve nutrients and enzymes. A different style of food preparation outside of normal cooking such as blending, soaking and dehydrating have been used to produce the array of new flavours and dishes.
Fresh, local ingredients are key to this menu that offers a choice of three starters, mains and desserts that are ideal for a healthy, nutritious lunch, snack or a light dinner. Some of the savoury dishes embrace a South American theme that reflects Buenrostro’s Mexican and Spanish heritage. My favourite of the starters, the baby gem tacos, are one example alongside a field mushroom ceviche with five varieties of fungi and the colourful main course nachos with spicy beans, nacho cheese sauce, guacamole and pico de gallo sauce.
There is always kale of some description on a vegan menu and Buenrostro has produced a raw kale Caesar salad with dehydrated yeast crisps that tasted cheesy and his own dairy free Caesar dressing. The magical and versatile macadamia nut appears in many of the dishes along with vegan staples such as corn, dates, agave syrup and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, seeds and sprouted/soaked grains and legumes.
The star of the main courses is the raw vegan pizza, a noteworthy miniature option minus the usual gluten and dairy. A macadamia nut base topped with delicious sundried tomato pesto, seasonal heirloom tomatoes, and rocca leaves, not only does it look divine but the flavours were so pizza-like, something that I was not expecting. An Asian inspired Pad Thai combines zucchini, carrot, red cabbage, beans sprouts, spring onion and cashew nuts with a spicy sauce.
My much documented sweet tooth was itching to try the desserts. I had anticipated that the very instagrammable banana pie would be my favourite, and while it was a delicious blend of coconut and bananas it was actually the blueberry cheesecake that impressed me the most. A light dessert with the texture of a normal cheesecake that was just perfectly flavoured and ….. it’s healthy. The silky chocolate fudge cake was rich and tasty paired with a tangy raspberry coulis and fresh strawberries. It’s honestly difficult to fathom that these sweet treats that tasted so good were unprocessed and purely plant based.
The healthy raw vegan menu is available at Al Meylas daily from noon until midnight and 24/7 for in-house guests via room service. Forget any previous vegan dining you have experienced and try the beautifully presented, flavoursome dishes created by the very talented and passionate Buenrostro. Don’t be put off if you are a fully fledged carnivore either, try something new with this meat free healthy option. Whatever your usual dietary preferences make sure to go hungry as the dishes are surprisingly filling.
Raw Vegan Menu
Location: Al Meylas, Ground Floor, Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 333 2222
Read more about the Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island in previous posts HERE
I was invited to try the Raw Vegan Menu at Al Meylas. The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2019. All rights reserved. Photo of Chef Buenrostro used with courtesy of www.fourseasons.com/abudhabi/