Time Out Says
The setting is luxurious and seductive, set with low lighting and dramatic artwork. The restaurant is spacious with intimate booths, a romantic outdoor terrace spot and three ‘show’ kitchens which add to the theatrical mise-en-scène.
We are wowed by the view, the cool ambiance and initially, by the ambitious Eastern Mediterranean-style menu split into fare from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon.
The fun is in mixing and matching starters and mains by country which is a little dizzying at first. We’re indecisive and hesitant to pair a Syrian starter with an Italian main, for example.
But this is where 18 Degrees’ stunning service comes into play. Our knowledgeable waiter diligently talks us through the menu and put us at ease with his recommendations, continuing to be attentive throughout the evening.
Highlights include the lobster ravioli served with stracciatella cheese, violet chips and chives, and the beef tenderloin crusted with pistachio pepper, olives and a pomegranate glaze.
We start with a vast and tenderly sliced bed of octopus carpaccio from Italy, thinly dressed with basil oil and bitter black Ligurian olives.
The carpaccio is fresh but lacks extra flavour – it is without evidence of a zingy lemon, ginger or chilli dressing that would elevate the dish. The plate is generous but without a combination of interesting flavours we lack enthusiasm to finish it.
The deep-fried Grecian calamari with semolina, cajun spice and aioli sauce is soggy and pale in colour, we eagerly look forward to our main course as it leaves the table.
The pan-fried salmon fillet lifts our hopes and gives the Greek menu a second chance. The fish melts in the mouth as if it was caught two minutes before, and the crushed potatoes are deliciously set off with fresh oregano and lemon butter sauce. This dish is a complete triumph.
Sadly, Syrian fare is let down by the mixed grill platter which consists of a limp beef kafta, shish taouk, onion and black grilled tomato. For Dhs180 we’re startled that the difference between this dish and the cheaper Levantine cuisine you can find in the UAE isn’t more apparent.
The food is hit and miss and leaves us wondering why we had invested so much in a mediocre meal. The views are stunning and the service is first-rate, so we presume this is predominantly what you pay for at this restaurant.
The bill (for two):
Octopus carpaccio Dhs90
Salmon fillet Dhs170
Mixed grill Dhs180
Total (excl. service) Dhs530
By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff | 10 Feb 2015
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