Middle Eastern-seafood restaurant Flooka has a lovely location, right next to Abu Dhabi’s famous Mangroves National Park. You could be perfectly happy sitting in the spacious and stylishly-decorated venue, looking out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. But, outside, on the large wooden terrace, you’ll enjoy watching life float by on the waters – families steering eco-donut boats, fitness enthusiasts having a go at some early-afternoon stand-up paddleboarding, and even a few energetic kayakers. It makes for a picturesque setting, and
a rather leisurely ambience.
As it runs for longer than most brunches, at four-and-a-half hours, customers tend to slowly, but steadily stream in throughout the afternoon. Couples, friends and large families come to enjoy the chilled-out atmosphere and catch up over the vast amounts of food that is served.
Oh, and we’re not exaggerating here. Make sure you go very, very hungry, particularly if you’re in a small group.
Everything is served to the table, rather than a buffet-style meal, which adds to the leisurely atmosphere. The feast starts with simple mezze plates – baba ganoush, hummus, tabbouleh, batata harra (spicy potatoes) and fresh bread. Then there’s all sorts of styles of fish – raw, kibbeh, shawarma, tawook. Some of it is novel, well-cooked and nicely balanced flavour-wise. We particularly enjoy the fish kibbeh and fish shawarma, which is smothered in a tart, rich sauce. A minority, however, leaves us a bit cold. The sujuk sausage, for example, is slightly dry and texturally displeasing. Meanwhile, the fish tawook is over-cooked, although we do enjoy the flavours of the marinade.
By this point, you’d think that sounds like enough food. But we haven’t even touched on the mains, which follow the same hit and miss formula as the starters. First comes the seafood paella, which is a lovely addition, but it’s not as impressive as we’d hoped. The seafood is over-cooked, and the dish as a whole lacks any real depth of flavour. Meanwhile, an entire red snapper arrives and is de-boned tableside for us. The fish is well-cooked and just how we like it – flaky and moist. But we had been asked upon ordering if we’d like it doused in garlic and coriander (yes, of course we would). Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen, and the dish suffers for the complete lack of seasoning.
Overall really, while some of the dishes need refining, we enjoy the atmosphere and Instagram-worthy setting, the reasonable price and lengthier duration. With a few tweaks, Flooka could be onto something.
Dhs220 (soft drinks), Dhs320 (house beverages), Dhs120 (children under 12). Sat 12.30pm-5pm. Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Al Salam Street (02 441 8244).
The bottom line
It’s leisurely, laid-back and enjoyable, but needs to fix a few of its more lacklustre dishes.