Since taking up his post as Chef de Cuisine at Bord Eau, Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, in the Summer of 2014, Didier Quennouelle has taken its already stunningly gourmet menu to new heights. Earlier this year, Michelin-mentored Chef redesigned Bord Eau’s signature blind-tasting menu creating a taste extravaganza for foodies and lovers of French cuisine alike. With a sense of French panache, each dish is freshly prepared and to the high expectations of this fine-dining restaurant.
KM went along to experience first hand this lavish 7-Course Tasting Menu for the ultimate French dining experience in the capital…
In its prime location overlooking the glistening waters of the Arabian Gulf, nestled between the bridges and overlooking the magnificent Grand Mosque, Bord Eau offers one of the most romantic settings for a truly memorable dining experience. With its decadent interiors complete with high ceilings, glistening chandeliers, golden hues and thick linen tablecloths adorned with Christofle table settings, the scene is appropriately set for what is to come.
We are warmly welcomed by the Maitre-D and shown to one of the most coveted tables in the house – the corner table in the window with the perfect vista and a cosy feeling of seclusion and intimacy. As our aperatif arrives, we relax into the evening and our anticipation is palpable as our gastronomic journey begins. One of my favourite aspects of French fine dining is the element of surprise and the added layer of complexity and indulgence that comes with the amuse-bouche and the palette-cleansers. They are almost on a par with grape pairing with every miniature creation providing an intriguing myriad of flavours designed to marry with those that came before and/or to prepare the palette for its next treat, such is the choreography at the hands of a Chef de Cuisine who has truly mastered his art. On this occasion, even before the amuse-bouche, we were presented with a palette cleanser to start: Watermelon and Hibiscus consommé – barely a mouthful and so delicately perfumed and yet so effectively refreshing and cleansing, simply beautiful! An amuse-bouche of Salmon Cornetto : a Salmon Gravelax, Lemon Cream and Dried Lobster Eggs, swiftly followed – another miniature masterpiece mouthwateringly presented and effectively teasing the taste buds in preparation for the first course.
The first course featured one of my favourite French delicacies, Foie Gras. The “Soulard” Foie gras au Torchon Green Apple Jelly With Groseille Elder Juice, Puff Brioche carried the perfect balance of the richness and creaminess from the Foie Gras against the refreshing flavours of the fresh Green Apple Jelly and Groseille Elder Juice all set against the satisfyingly textured crunch of the Brioche. The second course of Loch Fyne Salmon & Langoustine with Citrus Carpaccio, Cured and Marinated With Citrus and Chili Pepper, was lovely and light with delicate flavours at play all bouncing off each other and coming together in the wonderfully zesty marinade.
The third course saw the start of the main dishes with my favourite dish of the evening: Veal Cheek Blanquette Braised, Glazed Young Garden Carrots, Star Anise Infused Cooking Jus. The melt-in-your-mouth veal cheek was braised in a rich, sticky jus – both flavoursome and indulgent – everything you hope for in traditional rustic French cuisine, yet in perfectly balanced ‘fine dining’ proportions.
As the fourth course took us from meat to seafood, a second amuse-bouche was served; a Vegetable Veloute of Leek, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Broccoli and Potatoto, to aid our palettes in making the transition. The veloute was light and creamy and gratifyingly refreshing after the heaviness of the Veal Cheek. The seafood course carried a most intriguing combination of flavours that on paper, served to confuse one’s palette, but on the plate, worked flawlessly together with no one flavour overpowering another: Filet of John Dory Baby Artichokes And Young Carrots With Coriander, Cauliflower Marinated With Madras Curry And Barigoule Juice.
The fifth course brought our last main with a stunning typically French dish: “Graine Fed” Beef Striploin Rossini, Truffle Mashed Potato, Wild Mushrooms, Bord Eau Sauce. The Striploin was cooked to order – medium rare – and the accompaniments, especially the signature sauce, were suitably rich in flavour to compliment the Striploin.
The cheese course won me over once again as I just adore truffles and brie…Truffle Brie served with Black Fig and Walnut Bread. The sweetness of the fig complimented the creaminess of the brie but without upstaging the truffle and the walnut bread was generously cut and added a wonderful chewy, crunchy texture to the combination.
The final course needs no introduction… Extravaganza Chocoloate with ‘Valhrona’ Chocolate Sauce! I feel as though I should insert a video link here to do this dish justice, but instead, you will just have to experience the theatrical delivery first hand. A smooth chocolate ‘bomb’ was placed before us, and then our waiter slowly and tantalizingly poured rich hot chocolate sauce all over the bomb as we watched in awe at the bomb melting before us into a gooey pool of chocolate heaven! This pièce de résistance couldn’t be a more apt ending to such a creative dining experience. The beauty of the Tasting Menu is that not only can diners choose between 5 or 7 courses, but the menu is never same and so no two dining experiences will be the same. Having habitually chosen A La Carte at Bord Eau on previous visits, we shall now sit back relax and let Chef take over every time… this is a ‘must’ for every foodie in town!