Musings of a New Mama

Recently, I find myself staying up late at night (even when my baby’s asleep) thinking about life. And trust me when I say, I’ve never been one to stay up, thinking about the meaning of life (ain’t nobody got time for that!).  But, I guess becoming a new mama brings a lot of changes.

It’s difficult for me to write about personal things and this post is going to be very personal. But, I HAVE to pen these thoughts down because I know a few months down the line, I’m going to revisit this. So, here it goes…

💗 Before I became a mother, I read somewhere that having a baby is having a piece of your heart & soul that exists outside of your body. I couldn’t agree more. Once your baby is born, and not safely protected inside your womb…you worry every minute. How can I protect her better than when she was a part of me?

💗 The maternal instinct of a woman is the fiercest, most undefinable quality that exists inside each of us. My heart stops when my baby wakes up crying inconsolably from a nightmare. If I could jump in her head and kick the crap out of whatever is scaring my baby, I would do it in a heartbeat.

💗 Watching your husband – the manly man transform into a puddle of mush in the hands of his little baby girl is priceless. Watching him worry over the tiniest things and wanting to protect her (even from her own nails that she scratches herself with) is so beautiful. It only makes your love stronger.

💗 You only realize your own mother’s importance once you become a mother yourself. I loved my mama with all my heart all my life but I only truly appreciated what she went through to raise me and my three siblings after having a child of my own. Putting your child’s needs over your own every single day is the ultimate form of devotion. No wonder heaven lies under the feet of a mother.

💗 There is no such thing as a perfect mom. You are allowed to be frustrated when your baby hasn’t slept in twelve straight hours and you are at your wit’s end. You are allowed to want “me” time where you do absolutely nothing. It’s part of being a human – you don’t stop being one just because you have a baby.

💗 Your baby’s eyesight and focusing skills improve every month as they grow. One of my favorite things in life is how my daughter recognizes me. She wakes me up with a cheeky smile. She welcomes her daddy home everyday with a huge grin. I love being the most familiar face in her life. I love that she associates me with safety and comfort. I love being able to make her smile so easily.

💗 I find myself appreciating time. The first year of your baby’s life is the most life changing time. They are growing and learning at lightning speed and you are constantly looking forward to them sitting or crawling or walking. All these things will come in the coming year…but, as I pack away the clothes she has outgrown and look at her pictures from when she was a newborn, I get strangely emotional. Emotional that as she grows, she will rely on me less and less. I tell my husband that this is the time where she’ll let us hug and kiss her all we want because pretty soon she will be crawling away.

💗 I often think about how lucky I am to be blessed with a child that will one day love, care and worry about me and my husband just like we worry about our parents now. How beautiful is it to know that you will be so loved when you’re old?

 

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“Matcha and Mochi” Afternoon Tea at SushiSan, Abu Dhabi

Matcha refers to the finely ground powder of specially grown Japanese tea leaves while Mochi is the Japanese rice cake made of short-grain glutinous rice. We were invited to sample this delightful combination of Matcha and Mochi at an afternoon tea at SushiSan, Holiday Inn, Abu Dhabi. The restaurant is celebrating one year of introducing this afternoon tea – which has been a huge hit in the capital city.

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The “Matcha and Mochi” Afternoon Tea is available from 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday through Thursday at SushiSan. The restaurant is adorned with beautiful Japanese art and decorated in classic hues of red and black. The afternoon tea set up consists of your choice of 4 teas: Barley, Matcha, Roasted Hachi and Loose Japanese Green Tea which are steeped  for 7 to 8 minutes in tea pots in front of you.

I picked the Matcha tea while my husband picked the loose green tea. After we were served our tea, the afternoon tea platter arrived with Chef David being kind enough to explain all the items on the platter. In the savory treats, the platter includes Smoked Salmon Finger Sandwiches, Avocado Nori Roll, Japanese Mini Tacos with tuna filling, Beef Coated Rice Balls, Japanese Pancakes and for dessert 3 types of Mochi – Strawberry, Green Tea and Mango.

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While everything from this platter was delicious, our favorites were the Japanese Pancakes and the Smoked Salmon Finger Sandwiches. I just thought that it was such a clever idea on Chef Jessica’s part to incorporate traditional afternoon tea items with a Japanese twist on the menu. There were three of each of the items on the platter which were more than enough for two people. You can order more if you desire.

The Mochi also comes in three flavors – our favorite was the mango because the fruit really shined in the Mango Mochi. Mochi is very sweet so this is not a dessert for those who have a low sugar tolerance. We personally found it delicious and were so excited to try three different flavors of this Japanese delicacy.

Chef Jessica also made us her famous “Dynamite Shrimp” which are the most popular item on SushiSan’s menu. And trust me, I will come back just to have these again because they actually have the authentic “dynamite” spice. It’s not just shrimp tossed in a creamy dressing – the flavor is unbelievable!

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Overall, the “Matcha and Mochi” afternoon tea experience is so unique and unlike anything we’ve tried before. You don’t have to be a sushi lover or a Japanese cuisine enthusiast to actually enjoy this – the flavors and treats on the platter are some that everyone can appreciate.

The afternoon tea is priced at AED 75 net. Bubbly is included for AED 130 net. Service is fantastic with the staff answering all our questions about the menu with in-depth knowledge. Definitely an afternoon tea to try in the capital!

Final Verdict:

Food: 4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service: 4.5/5

Value for Money: 3.75/5

SushiSan - Holiday Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Silk Route Café, Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

“Roti or Naan” is the new Indian themed buffet offered every Thursday at Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi’s all day dining restaurant called Silk Route Café. Under the leadership of Chef David, the “Roti or Naan” theme revolves around fresh Indian bread made to order in the traditional “Tandoor” and paired with delicious dishes from the buffet.

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We were invited to try this new concept at the Silk Route Café this Thursday evening. Located on the Mezzanine floor of the hotel, the restaurant has a modern chic ambiance with ample seating. The display of bronzed vases in the center paired with the colorful cushions brings a vibrant touch to the restaurant.

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Once seated, guests are asked to choose from a selection of 5 Indian breads – Tandoori Naan, Tandoori Roti, Kulcha, Paratha and Butter Naan. The roti and naans are made fresh to order giving guests time to try the soups and salads until the fresh, hot bread arrives at the table. The buffet has 4 sections: Soup, Salads, Mains and Dessert.

They have two soup options – a spinach soup and a tomato soup. The salad selection includes Indian street food options like Papdi Chaat, Dahi Vada and Chana Chaat. The chefs have tried to incorporate a little bit of both Northern and Southern Indian cuisines in the buffet with Gujrati favorites like Dhokla. They also have international salad offerings like Tomato, Kidney Bean and Spicy Chicken Salad.

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The restaurant offers fresh juices like orange, pineapple and watermelon as well as soft drinks as part of the buffet. We ordered the orange and pineapple juice.

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For the mains, they have catered to chicken and meat lovers as well as vegetarians. For chicken lovers like myself, they had a wonderful Butter Chicken and the Cashew Pulao was divine. Meat lovers like my husband had a lot of lamb and beef gravy dishes to choose from. For vegetarians, they have Dahi Bhindi, Aloo Methi and Palak Paneer.

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After stuffing ourselves with salad, chaats and all the mains paired with these delicious Butter and Tandoori Naans arriving fresh and hot from the tandoor, it was time to tackle dessert!

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The dessert selection has all the popular beloved Indian desserts like Gulab Jamun, Jalebi and Ras Malai along with more creative offerings like the Anjeer Barfi. My favorite was the Seviyan which is sweet vermicelli cooked in milk and topped with dry fruit. It was perfect – not too overpoweringly sweet! The buffet also includes tea or coffee to conclude your meal. We had the green tea to lessen the guilt after this delicious meal!

Overall, “Roti or Naan” is a fantastic Thursday night Indian buffet to try this Fall. Service is impeccable with the restaurant staff taking care of all your needs. The hotel is running a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” promotion for this buffet on the Entertainer UAE for the month of October. This themed night will run till the end of December. It’s perfect for family dinners and entertaining business colleagues as well.

“Roti or Naan” is available every Thursday evening starting at 6:30 pm for the value price of AED 139 net.

Final Verdict:

Food: 4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service: 4.5/5

Value for Money: 4/5

Silk Route Cafe - Holiday Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Biryani Pot, The Galleria, Abu Dhabi

This weekend we were invited to dine at Biryani Pot –  three time winner of the What’s On Award for Favorite Indian Restaurant in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Expectations were understandably high as we walked into the Galleria. Biryani Pot gets its inspiration from the traditional way of cooking Biryani in a clay pot and covering it with a dough seal thereby allowing all the heat trapped inside to bring the dish to a “dum”.

The restaurant is located in the food court. The beautiful display of traditional Indian spices in jars bring a nice aesthetic to the small outlet. While they don’t have seating dedicated solely to their own restaurant, there is ample seating for Biryani Pot customers. Since, the restaurant is located in the food court, service is fast – with your entire order being served at once after you order.

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The menu consists of biryanis, curries, tandoor grills, salads, wraps & small bites, bread and desserts. They also have a limited time offer of Samosa and Aloo Tiki Chaat going on. We ordered the Samosa Chaat, Chicken Biryani, Butter Chicken along with a Mango Lassi & Lemon Mint. One thing that was very unique about their menu was the option of a healthier “Quinoa” biryani available in chicken, lamb, prawn and vegetable – a great option for the diet conscious.

We weren’t feeling very diet conscious on this occasion so we ordered the regular chicken biryani which is the most popular biryani at the restaurant. All the food arrived together. The Chicken Biryani was truly delicious. A very good amount of chicken with a juicy masala layered with perfectly cooked rice. Even though this is a food court joint, the dough seal was intact keeping the biryani hot until we were ready to eat.

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Chicken Biryani

We also had the Butter Chicken which was really good. A good butter chicken in my opinion isn’t overly sweet and the chicken should be tender. We had plain naans to go with our butter chicken.

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Butter Chicken

The Samosa Chaat was very interesting – it was mini Punjabi samosas topped with various chutneys, chick peas, capsicum and pomegranate. The result was a hearty chaat – portion size big enough for two people to share when you’ve already stuffed yourself with a biryani and butter chicken.

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Samosa Chaat – Limited Time Offer only

The drinks were the only average part of our meal. It could be that mangoes are no longer in season and Mango Lassi is best made with the perfect sweet ripe in-season mango. My Mango Lassi was a little sour while the Lemon & Mint could use some more mint.

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Lemon Mint & Mango Lassi

There are only 2 options available for dessert. The Gulab Jamun and Ras Malai – we went with the Gulab Jamun and we weren’t disappointed. They were the perfect level of sweet and soft – a great ending to a lovely meal.

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Gulab Jamun

Biryani Pot delivers all over the city with a 5 dirham delivery charge only. They also give out promo vouchers (Buy 1 get 1 free) to their delivery customers that allow you to save money while ordering more food. Overall, we recommend Biryani Pot if you’re in the mood for a fast, delicious meal without breaking the bank.

Final Verdict:

Food: 4/5

Ambiance: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Value for Money: 3.5/5

Biryani Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Stuffed Burger Co. Abu Dhabi

After watching a million episodes of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network and drooling over the calorie filled stuffed burgers featured on the show; I’m happy to report that the stuffed burger trend is all the rage in the UAE too.  I mean, who doesn’t love a burger stuffed with yummy cheesy (or other) goodness? We were invited to the grand opening of The Stuffed Burger Co. in Abu Dhabi. This restaurant already has branches in Dubai and is now expanding to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

The restaurant is located in the Mushrif area and decorated in hues of red, white and black. Seating is limited but service is fast. There was live music at the opening which definitely added to the appeal of the restaurant.

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The menu is simple with three to four options in the appetizer, salad, mains and dessert categories. We started out with their “Texas Fries” which were thick cut fries topped with chili con carne, melted cheese and ranch sauce with a spring onion topping. This was my favorite of all the things we tried off of their menu because it is a meal in itself. The chili has a kick and the cheese and ranch sauce give it the comfort food feeling needed from loaded fries.

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Texas Fries

Next up, we had two different types of Sliders – the Bacon Swiss Crispy and the California Chicken. The Bacon Swiss Crispy came with a green bun and the filling was fried chicken topped with swiss cheese and smoked beef bacon. The California Chicken slider came with a red bun and was filled with grilled chicken topped with caramelized onion, cheese and BBQ sauce. I preferred the California Chicken slider over the Bacon Swiss. All the sliders have a different colored bun.

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Sliders – California Chicken and Bacon Swiss

Next, we had two of the burgers from their burger selection. Their signature Three Cheese stuffed burger was stuffed with mozzarella, cheddar and feta with their special sauce. I found this burger to be average – it could use a kick in terms of flavor because the cheese overpowered even the meat.

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Three Cheese Stuffed Burger

We also tried the Char Cheese burger which was much better with a simple beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and their special sauce.

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Char Cheese Burger

For our drinks, we tried their Lemon and Passion fruit Mojitos. Both the drinks were refreshing with subtle hints of lemon and passion fruit.

Overall, the Stuffed Burger Co. is a nice joint to try if you’re a fan of stuffed burgers and expect the burger and fries experience. I would love to see them add more items on their menu like salads, some more mains and desserts.

Final Verdict:

Food: 3.5/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Value for Money: 3.5/5

The Stuffed Burger Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grand Barbeque Buffet Restaurant, Dubai

We were invited to try the Friday buffet at Grand Barbeque Buffet Restaurant this weekend. Located in the busy foodie hub of Satwa, the restaurant is easy to find. The interior is decorated in shades of cream and brown with private seating for families and large parties. After being seated, we chose our drinks. The restaurant offers different types of lassis in addition to fresh juices and soft drinks. I went with the lime soda while my husband ordered a fresh orange juice.

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Restaurant Interior
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Lime Soda & Fresh Orange Juice

The restaurant manager and our server were kind enough to give us a tour of the entire buffet spread. The buffet consists of the following sections: soup, salad, barbeque – veg and non veg, non-veg curries and veg curries, chinese cuisine, a live pasta corner, live chaat station and dessert.

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The Buffet area

They had two varieties of soup – Chicken Manchow and Pepper Coriander Vegetable soup. The salad station had the usual salad varieties including hummus, potato salad, coleslaw in addition to salad vegetables. They also had piping hot dim sum.

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Salad Counter

In the barbeque section, they had Tandoori Chicken, Murg Malai Kabab, Amritsari Ajwaini Fish and Seekh Kabab which are served fresh and hot to your table in addition to being part of the buffet spread as well. In the vegetarian barbeque variety, they had Veg Shami Kabab, Paneer Tikka, Chili Garlic Mushrooms and Saunde Aaloo. Overall, we preferred the non-veg barbeque items over the vegetarian because the former were packed with more flavour.

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Top: Non-veg barbeque selection Bottom: Vegetarian barbeque selection

Moving on the curries, they had Butter Chicken, Mutton Raara, Murgh Kaali Mirch, Shanghai Squid and Mutton Paaye. My favorite from all of these was the butter chicken which was fantastic paired with the garlic naan. Your naan order is taken while you help yourself from the buffet and served hot to your table.

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They also had Chicken Biryani which was delicious. For the kids, there is a selection of chicken nuggets and fries. In the vegetarian curries section, they had Paneer Lababdar, Veg Miloni, Daal Makhni with white rice, Veg Pulao, Aaalo Jeera and Veg Chili Garlic Noodles. The Paneer Lababdar and Daali Makhni were our favorites from this section.

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They also have a live pasta counter serving up red and white sauce pastas. We didn’t get a chance to try the pasta since we were too full from the other mains at the buffet. This is another great options for kids.

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From the live chaat corner, we requested Gol Gappay. They were served to our table along with meethi chutney and the savoury “paani”. We absolutely loved them and wished we had tried them earlier during our dinner.

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Gol Gappay

They also have Gola Ganda – which is a traditional Indian snow cone made up of shaved ice soaked in various coloured syrups. This for us was one of the highlights of this buffet that sets it apart from the other buffets in town.

Moving on to the dessert station. They have an ice cream bar with different flavored ice creams in addition to Indian favorites like Gulab Jamun, Shrikhand, Phirnee and Halwa. They also had a chocolate fountain with different dipping options like marshmallows along with some western desserts like chocolate and strawberry pastry.

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Icecream Bar
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Gulab Jamun & Halwa

Overall, Grand Barbeque Buffet offers a wide range of variety for a very reasonable price. Their emphasis on providing vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian options makes this the perfect place for large gatherings and parties. The service is impeccable and the food is well worth the price.

Price breakdown is as follows:

Friday Buffet (not including drinks): AED 79/person

Final Verdict:

Food: 4.3/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service:4.5/5

Value for Money: 4.3/5

Grand Barbeque Buffet Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wildfirez Grill, Al Seef Village Mall, Abu Dhabi

This weekend, we were invited to a bloggers event organized by Maheen of MahiBlog at the Wildfirez Grill at Al Seef Village Mall in Abu Dhabi. We’d heard of this restaurant but hadn’t gotten around to visiting it yet. Where there are chicken wings; there is happiness. So, naturally we were looking forward to trying the food. The restaurant is located on the first floor next to the Kids Zone. Although the interior is small, the restaurant makes up for it with it’s delicious signature grilled chicken and chicken wings.

The restaurant has a few tables inside with additional seating outside allowing a view of the entire floor of the mall. The menu is simple offering different varieties of  Buffalo Wings, grilled chicken, beef and seafood items along with sides. They also have a small section devoted to burgers and sandwiches.

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Restaurant Interior

We started off with the Wildfirez sides. The restaurant has the following options for sides to accompany your main: Yellow Rice, Baked Mac & Cheese, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy and for the health nuts: Green Salad, Sauteed Vegetables, Corn and Coleslaw. We tried all the sides but my absolute favorite was the baked Mac & Cheese. It was simply cheesy perfection with a crispy brown crust on top. We also recommend the Coleslaw and the Mashed Potatoes with gravy.

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Green Salad, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Coleslaw
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Baked Mac & Cheese

Next up, we tried three different varieties of the  Wildfirez 1/2 chicken. The restaurant has the following options for sauces to grill your chicken/meat in: Hot Fire, Buffalo, House BBQ, Sweet & Spicy BBQ and Tandoori. We tried the first three sauce options with our marinated grilled chicken. Our favorite was the Buffalo sauce – acceptably spicy without being too overpowering lending the perfect flavor for the grilled chicken. All grilled chicken come with your choice of two sides. We also had the Classic Buffalo Wings in BBQ and Buffalo sauce- topped with sesame seeds and coated in the rich sauce, they were hard to put down.

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Wildfirez 1/2 grilled chicken with BBQ sauce
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Wildfirez 1/2 Grilled Chicken with Buffalo sauce
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Buffalo Wings & Sauteed Vegetables

We also tried the Shish Tawook Skewers and Monterrey Flame Grilled Chicken. The Shish Tawook was nothing special but the Monterrey chicken was lovely with the addition of sour cream and bell peppers.

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Monterrey Flame Grilled Breast
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The entire spread

The restaurant offers kid friendly meals like Chicken Chunks – fried boneless chicken pieces accompanied with your choice of sauce and fries.

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Chicken Chunks with Fries

The last thing we tried were the Wilfirez Signature Stuffed Burger – two patties of Angus beef stuffed with mixed cheese and topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms. The burger is juicy and for those with a big appetite.

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Wildfirez Stuffed Burger

Overall, Wildfirez Grill brings affordable American cuisine to the Abu Dhabi food scene. Portion sizes are huge and the prices are very reasonable for the amount of food you are served. The restaurant is offering a 20% dine-in discount for those who mention “Dine with MahiBlog” upon their visit; which is a fantastic offer to avail. They also deliver all over Abu Dhabi with no minimum spend requirement and only an AED 5 charge. We would love to see them expand their menu and add desserts & signature drink options in the future.

As always, it’s a pleasure to meet & converse with fellow foodies & bloggers. A big shout out to MahiBlog for organizing such a fun event 🙂

Final Verdict:

Food: 4/5

Ambiance: 3.5/5

Service:4.5/5

Value for Money: 4/5

Wildfirez American Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Garden, Crowne Plaza Downtown Abu Dhabi

Who doesn’t love waking up late and heading to a fantastic brunch on a Friday? The Garden restaurant is the all day dining restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Abu Dhabi. In addition to having weekly themed nights for dinner; they also do a fantastic brunch every Friday. We were invited to try the Friday Brunch at the Garden this weekend and we came back stuffed & impressed with all the variety this brunch has to offer.

Located on the ninth floor of the hotel, the restaurant immediately invites you in with the delicious aromas of its lavish buffet spread. A live band serenades you with soft tunes as you are seated. The buffet is divided into 7 main sections: salads, bread, Asian, mains, live pasta counter, breakfast items & dessert.

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Restaurant Interior

We started our brunch with the salad section, which had an impressive variety of sea food appetizers like – Fish Taco Salad, Steamed Black Mussels, Assorted Sushi & Steamed Tiger Prawns. In addition to this, there were the usual salad offerings like Hummus, Fattoush, Chicken & Pineapple Salad, Chicken Terrine and some luxurious items like Caviar.

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Salad
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Assorted Sushi

Next, we moved on to the bread & soup section which had two options for soup which change weekly. There was a wide variety of bread with accompanying cheeses and crackers.

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Breads & Soup

To make the food at their brunch more international, they have an Asian section which has some popular items from Indian and Chinese cuisines. They had Kadhai Chicken, Daal Hara Pyaz and Vegetable Curry for the Indian food lovers. In the Chinese section, they had Vegetable Spring Rolls, Stir Fried Noodles and Sweet & Sour Fish. Our favorites from this section was the Kadhai Chicken and Sweet & Sour Fish.

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Indian Cuisine
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Chinese Cuisine

In the main course section, they had Steamed Rice, Mashed Potatoes (very popular with children),Herb Crusted Fish, Lamb Sapanak, Steak, Roasted Chicken & Whole Roasted Snapper Fish. Our favorite was the tender & juicy Roasted Chicken and the Herb Crusted Fish.

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Main Course Buffet
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Main Course

The restaurant includes a live pasta counter as part of its buffet for pasta lovers like myself to order a customized pasta. I ordered a Chicken Penne Pasta with all the veggies and a pink sauce. The pasta was delicious and served to our table.

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Live Pasta Counter
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Chicken Penne Pasta with Pink Sauce

The last portion of the main course buffet included some breakfast items like different types of sausages, hash browns, Beef Enchiladas & Chicken Nuggets for children. We tried the enchiladas which were delicious.

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Breakfast Items
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Fresh Oysters over ice

The brunch buffet at the Garden has more lunch items than breakfast items. Some things we would love to see them include in their spread would be a live omelette counter in addition to other breakfast favorites like pancakes and waffles.

Moving on to the most enticing portion of the brunch- the counter that is strategically placed at the entrance to make sure you save some room for the best – DESSERT! We were very impressed with the variety  and quality of desserts at the dessert station. From the usual mousse, cakes, tarts and custards; they had some really innovative desserts like Green Tea Mousse Cake & Cheesecake. The glowing bar like display of items like Strawberry Vanilla Pannacotta, Lemon Posset and Baked Yogurt not only tasted delicious but also looked like a work of art. They also had my personal favorite – Macarons which were tiny but delicious.

The icing on the cake was the chocolate fountain with different fruit, marshmallows, cookies and cake options to dip & enjoy.

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Desserts
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Desserts
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Desserts

Overall, the Friday brunch at The Garden restaurant has excellent variety & value for money. With the addition of a few more breakfast items, they are well on their way to becoming one of the best Friday brunches in the city. The restaurant is offering a buy one and get one free offer on their Friday brunch for the month of November which makes this an absolute steal.

Price breakdown is as follows:

Friday Brunch with Soft Drinks: AED 129/person

Friday Brunch with Alcohol & House Beverages: AED 179/person

*Price is subject to 10% Service charge, 6% Tourism fee and 4% Municipality fee.

Final Verdict:

Food: 4.3/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service:4.5/5

Value for Money: 4.3/5

The Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Piazza, Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi Downtown

Seafood lovers: Rejoice! Because situated in the hustle and bustle of downtown Abu Dhabi, Holiday Inn offers a fantastic dining option for  seafood lovers looking for an affordable buffet. La Piazza is the hotel’s all day dining restaurant located on the first floor. While the restaurant focuses on serving an international buffet to its guests most of the week; every Thursday night is seafood night. If you’re into seafood and want to try everything under the sun; I recommend you give La Piazza a try because you will not be disappointed.

We were invited to try the “Seafood Night Buffet” this weekend. While we do love seafood, we can’t say we’ve ever had a seafood-only buffet. So, we were super excited to see what the restaurant had in store for us. The restaurant offers a view of the busy Sheikh Zayed -the 1st street. The restaurant is large with ample seating to accommodate dinner time rush with ease.

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The buffet is divided into 5 sections: salads, bread, live cooking, main course and dessert. We started with the salad section which had no shortage of options ranging from the usual salad offerings like Hummus and Fattoush to all sorts of seafood like Squid Salad, Steamed Mussels and Lobster. Chef Charles was kind enough to explain all the dishes in the buffet.

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Salad Vegetables and Seafood Terrine

Our favorite from the salad was the Shrimp Cocktail – four tangy, well seasoned shrimps served over bell peppers and a creamy dressing. We also liked the Squid and Mixed Seafood Salad. The salad station included a great cheese and olive selection along with different kinds of dressings to accompany the salads.

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Fattoush, Crab Leg, Hummus, Steamed Mussels with Chili Sauce Salad, Mixed Seafood Salad, Cheese & Olive Selection
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Shrimp Cocktails, Squid Salad & different salad dressings

The bread section had ten to twelve different bread varieties ranging from dinner rolls to Focaccia accompanied with Parmesan cheese.

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Bread Station

Moving on to the main course, the buffet had two soup options. The restaurant places the utmost importance on catering to all its guests; therefore there was a vegetarian (Potato & Leek soup) and a non-vegetarian (Seafood Chowder) option for soup. We tried the Seafood Chowder which was creamy and delicious.

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Seafood Chowder & Potato and Leek Soup

The main course options started with vegetarian options like steamed rice, steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. While the theme of the buffet is seafood, the chef made sure that there was something catering to every audience. In the Asian variety, there were Stir Fried Seafood Noodles, Sweet & Sour Fish. In the pasta variety, there was a Baked Seafood Pasta. For the curry lovers, there was a Fish Curry and Fish Saydia Rice. My favorite from the main course was the Fish Curry – the fish was tender and the gravy had a smoky Indian spices infused flavor. The Sweet & Sour Fish was another favorite of mine with its vibrant colors and flavors.

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Steamed Broccoli
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Mashed Potatoes
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Stir fried Seafood Noodles
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Baked Seafood Pasta
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Sweet & Sour Fish
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Fish Curry
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Fish Saydia Rice

The best part of the main course selection was the international nature of the seafood theme that allowed us to sample all our seafood favorites from all our favorite cuisines.

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Chef Charles with the Buffet

The buffet also included four live cooking station items that change weekly. These items included Grilled Baked Lobster & Scampi, Salmon Wellington and Whole Baked Fish. The baked Lobster was probably the best lobster we have ever tried. It was perfectly cooked through and seasoned to perfection. The Salmon Wellington was an interesting take on the traditional British classic with the salmon wrapped in spinach and pastry.

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Grilled Baked Lobster & Scampi
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Salmon Wellington & Whole Baked Fish

Moving on to my favorite part of any buffet, the dessert station! Obviously, there was no seafood present in this section 😛 We were ready to fill the very little space remaining in our tummies with the decadent pastries and tarts from the dessert station. The dessert station had a wide variety of cut up fruits and fruit salad. There was also a vast selection of cakes: Fruit, Vanilla Sponge, Pistachio Mousse and Dried Apricot. There was Strawberry and Chocolate Mousse along with Creme Brulee and Walnut Brownies. My favorite was the Walnut Brownie along the dainty little Fruit Tarts.

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Fruit Cake, Fruit Tarts, Strawberry Mousse & Chocolate Brownie
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Pistachio Mousse Cake, Vanilla Sponge Cake, Chocolate Mousse & Creme Brulee
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Whole Vanilla Sponge Cake & Dried Apricot Cake

Overall, we were highly pleased with the variety and quality of food at La Piazza’s seafood buffet. The food paired with the incredibly affordable price makes this one must-try buffet in downtown Abu Dhabi.

Price breakdown is as follows:

Seafood Buffet: AED 115/person

Final Verdict:

Food: 4.4/5

Ambiance: 4/5

Service:4.5/5

Value for Money: 4/5

La Piazza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spaccanapoli, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi

The word “Spaccanapoli” stands for the narrow main street that traverses the old, historic center of the city of Naples, Italy. Approximately five thousand kilometers away, on another very busy street stands the three time “Best Italian” award winning restaurant named Spaccanapoli. We were invited to try the “Italian Mania” promotion available at the restaurant every Saturday. The offer consisting of an antipasti buffet, your choice of pizza or pasta with unlimited brew & grape selection runs from noon to 11 pm every Saturday.

The restaurant is located at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Hamdan street. It’s fluorescent signage paired with the interesting name makes it difficult to miss when driving on Hamdan street. The restaurant exhibits cosy Italian charm. The ambiance is softly lit and relaxed with wood furnishings and plenty of corner tables allowing privacy.

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For starters, we were served a bread basket with roasted garlic and a creamy Tapenade dip. We also picked our main course from the vast selection available in the menu. Everything seemed really tempting, but we settled on the Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Pizza del Salumiere.

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Bread Basket at Spaccanapoli

The antipasti buffet has a number of interesting offerings in addition to the usual salad and cheese components. Some of the items that caught our eye included the Pepper Crusted Tuna, Grilled Zuchini, Chicken Terrine, Octupus Potato and Fried Mozarella.

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Antipasti Buffet

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My favorite from the antipasti buffet was the Fried Mozarella drizzled with a rich tomato sauce. I wasn’t brave enough to try the Octopus, so my husband tried it instead and really liked it. The Chicken Terrine with its combination of sweet and earthy flavors was another favorite.

The buffet also includes a soup which changes weekly. This week’s soup was Lentil soup made with the black gram lentil. The items included in the antipasti buffet also change every week so there is always something new & interesting to try.

Our main course arrived shortly after we finished sampling the antipasti buffet. Being a pasta fanatic, I had ordered the Spaghetti alla Carbonara – what better way to end the weekend other than a big plate of creamy pasta. The spaghetti was served al dente with the most decadent cream & parmesan sauce. The beef bacon added an extra depth to the dish. The portion sizes were big. Even though I tried, I wasn’t able to finish all of my pasta.

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Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

My husband ordered the Pizza del Salumiere. His “pizza for one” was easily enough for two people. The pizza had a tangy tomato sauce as its base with mozarella, beef bacon, pepperoni, salami and turkey ham as toppings making this the perfect “man pizza” for those meat lovers.

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Pizza del Salumiere

Spaccanapoli is best known for its signature “1 meter long” pizza with four different pizza toppings of your choice. If you visit with a group of four, you can order the 1 meter long pizza as part of the Italian Mania promotion. I for one, will definitely be returning to try this signature 1 meter long pizza.

All pizzas & pastas at Spaccanapoli can be customized according to your dietary specifications. The restaurant offers vegetarian, dairy and gluten free options for its customers. The service is impeccable and the staff a pleasure to chat with. The Italian Mania offer includes unlimited alcohol and grape selection (upto four hours) which makes this a steal for those who wish to enjoy a casual drink and delicious Italian food over the weekend.

Price breakdown is as follows:

The Italian Mania offer: AED 146/person

*Price is subject to 10% Service charge, 6% Tourism fee and 4% Municipality fee.

Final Verdict:

Food: 4.3/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Service:4.5/5

Value for Money: 4/5

Spaccanapoli - Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato