When we lived in the UK we ate out occasionally, but not often. I suspect it was a combination of the fact that we tended to live out of town, the lack of quality eating places in our area, and the cost of taxis if one wanted to enjoy a drink or two. I don’t need to look at my spreadsheet to know that the situation has changed completely since moving to Abu Dhabi.
I don’t need to look at my spreadsheet, but of course I have been doing exactly that, because I am a nerd. The data doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know but it is interesting (to me at least) to see it in black and white. I therefore have pleasure in presenting to you the story of my eating out in 2014.
My records only cover eating out in the evening, so don’t reflect the fact that we also have lunch out on occasion, and every now and then, breakfast (Hippy Chic at Etihad Plaza does a great full English which hits the spot when one has a hangover). It does include brunches, which start at lunchtime but the effects of which last well into the evening. With those caveats out of the way I can reveal that I ate out on 75 days in 2014, which equates to three times every fortnight or so.
Those 75 meals were eaten at 46 different restaurants, in four different countries: the UAE, the UK, Spain and the Netherlands. The restaurants themselves ranged from very posh (BBQ Al Qasr at the Emirates Palace Hotel) to not quite so posh (McDonalds).
I’ve deliberately said “I” ate out 75 times because Jo was with me on just 66 of the occasions. Before you think it I’d just like to be clear that the other nine occasions were nothing untoward, they consist of meals out with work colleagues, friends whilst Jo was back in the UK, or me eating out on my own (twice) (now you know where the visit to McDonalds came from).
We definitely have our favorite restaurants, because just five accounted for 50% of the 46 restaurants. The most popular location, no doubt as a result of it only being a couple of miles from home was Café 28 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club (six visits). The other restaurants making up the top five were Stars ‘N’ Bars (Yas Marina) (five visits), and Carluccios (Eastern Mangroves), Pachaylen (Eastern Mangroves) and the Meat Co (Souk Qaryat Al Beri) (four visits each).
As well as being predictable in choice of restaurant I am a creature of habit in terms of what I choose from the menu at those restaurants. There is a one in three chance I will order a steak (usually with chips, every now and then with mashed potato) or a burger (mainly beef, very occasionally chicken). If you exclude the meals where we order a selection (Thai, Indian and Chinese), and brunches, I am disappointingly unadventurous, with venison probably being the best I can come up with, and I didn’t choose that, it was a fixed menu. I need to change this in 2015.
Back to who I ate out with. The whole family ate out together ten times, most of those whilst we were on holiday in Spain (Henry opts not to join us usually these days, unless we are going somewhere really posh) and a further seven times the whole family ate out with other people (friends or family visiting, etc). Jo and I managed to get out on our own just more than once a month, which isn’t too bad, and on a further eight occasions we had a grown up meal out with friends.
Looking back at my records one thing that strikes me is the lack of local cuisine on the list. When I say lack, I mean there is none at all. There are (obviously) a number of restaurants around which serve Emirati dishes, so I shall make it my mission to go to at least one this year (although I suspect I may have to do it on my own when Jo is back in the UK in the summer).
Before I go I thought I would end with “The Quantified Expat Restaurant Awards 2014”.
Best Friday brunch has to go to the Ritz Carlton. We had six brunches during the year, three at the Ritz Carlton, and one each at the Fairmont, the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, and the Shangri La. All were great but the Ritz Carlton takes the crown for many reasons, but particularly due to the cheese (and port) room and the entire room filled with desserts and sweets (and the eggnog cart on Christmas Day).
Best restaurant for families is a close call between our most visited restaurant, Café 28 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club (six visits), and Stars ‘N’ Bars at Yas Marina (five visits). Both are great, with some delicious dishes on the menu, but in the end Stars ‘N’ Bars wins out, mainly due to the more lively atmosphere.
There are a few contenders for best restaurant for couples. BBQ Al Qasr at the Emirates Palace Hotel deserves a very honorable mention due to the great food (wonderful steaks!) and its incredibly romantic location on the beach. However, taking into account a number of factors, including overall experience and value for money, in the end the winner is Pachaylen at the Eastern Mangroves (four visits).
For the record I present below almost all of the restaurants we ate at in Abu Dhabi during 2014.
So there we go. I for one found the data interesting, not least because it has caused me to come up with a number of resolutions for 2015: eat at a greater variety of restaurants, make more varied menu choices, and sample the local cuisine. I shall report back next January on how I have got on.
Any readers in the UAE, feel free to recommend some new places for us to try.
Thanks for reading.