Time Out Says
The dining room is bright and airy and is a pleasant enough place to eat, with lots of space for hungry buffet fans. As we are discovering to be a bit of a trend, the service at buffet restaurants is rather painful if you are deviating from standard operating procedure.
The fun began while placing our order and discovering our stir-fry main didn’t come with any kind of accompaniment. Not wanting fried rice (we try to watch our waistlines as much as possible) we were told we could have a plate of rice from the buffet, which we politely refused.
Then it was on to the starters. Smoked salmon is pretty hard to make a mess of, especially if the salmon is of decent quality – which this was – and came with a decent horseradish sauce and some big capers but with a very disappointing giant blini which was rubbery and a bit burnt despite being served cold. The ‘chicken lollipops’ were strange. Minced and spiced chicken wrapped in pieces of chicken, breaded and deep fried with a bone stuck in through the whole lump, the taste and texture was decidedly unpleasant and we didn’t eat more than one of the giant serving of four lollipops before we abandoned ship.
While waiting for our plates to be cleared, and having asked a few times for them to be removed, our mains arrived. The Essence beef burger was unappetising to look at, never mind the taste. A jauntily shaped burger (it’s oblong, rather than round) won’t distract anyone from gray meat, anaemic tomatoes and claggy cheese. We didn’t eat more than a bite, however the fries that accompanied the burger were great and quieted our rumbling stomachs.
The stir-fried shrimps came served in what can only be described as a soup of oyster sauce. Granted, there was a wealth of fresh and crunchy vegetables swimming alongside the seafood in the sauce, but the shrimp themselves were tiny little things that didn’t entice us to eat more than one before giving it up for a bad job and stealing half the fries that came with the burger.
Wanting just to escape by this point, we decided to forgo dessert and asked for the bill.
By all accounts, the buffet at Essence is actually very good, which makes it even more disappointing that the à la carte menu is so poor. Stick to the buffet if you venture here.
The bill (for two)
Crispy chicken lollipops Dhs45
Scottish smoked salmon Dhs65
Essence beef burger Dhs65
Stir-fried shrimps Dhs90
Total (excluding service) Dhs265
By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff | 01 Apr 2013
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