A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be invited to a menu tasting at a recently opened dining outlet in Abu Dhabi. The Fifth Street Cafe is part of the Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Center Hotel, which opened late last year, and is currently in its “soft launch” phase. Needless to say we were very pleased to accept.
We are big supporters of the Marriott brand, having been members of the Marriott Vacation Club for a number of years, and frequently staying in their hotels. We didn’t know much about the Courtyard brand previously but instinctively understood it was a step down from the quality of the “normal” Marriott chain. Reading the company’s website I see that this is described more appropriately as the “upper moderate” tier.
The first hurdle was finding the cafe, or indeed the hotel. It only opened in December so many taxi drivers, including ours, don’t know where it is located. We pointed out that the name (Fifth Street Cafe) may be a clue, although in Abu Dhabi roads go by many different names so maybe it was too much to expect.
We eventually found where we were meant to be, and were pleasantly surprised when we walked into the cafe. It is described as a “laid back and relaxed neighborhood hangout” with a “peaceful yet vibrant” atmosphere. On first viewing it seems they have delivered against this vision. The cafe was bright and welcoming, and I particularly liked the large, high table at one end which looked like a good place to touch down to do a few hours work. The free wifi (no access code needed apparently) and charging points add to the attraction. All in all it didn’t feel like a cafe attached to a hotel, which I think is deliberate.
The front of house team that has been assembled comprises mainly younger people from a range of backgrounds. They are encouraged to add to the informal atmosphere by dressing in a casual uniform and (I think I remember this being said) being allowed to wear their own shoes (trendy trainers, etc).
After a welcome drink whilst other guests arrived we were shown to the table that had been set aside for us, where we were joined by the hotel manager. Over the next couple of hours we were then served a selection of dishes from the menu and asked to provide our honest feedback.
There were too many dishes to mention, but they were all very nice. Particular favorites for me included the “slow cooked meat balls” in tomato sauce, with herb couscous, and the “savory waffle” (spiced marinated chicken and cucumber raita on a waffle). Given my sweet tooth the desserts were also a highlight, so I was very pleased when we were given a selection to take away with us.
All in all we were very pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. This is definitely somewhere I would recommend trying if you are in the area. The cafe is open from 6am until 1am each day, and is apparently becoming a popular stop off place for people on their way to work nearby. You can find further information here.
As I have been very open about we were guests of the hotel for the tasting, however the views expressed in this review are entirely my own (and Jo’s of course).
Thanks for reading as always.