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Restaurant review: Barbfly by Buddha Bar.

Summary: This Asian restaurant at the Venetian Village on the grounds of the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is your stylish escape from the heat

David Tusing, tabloid! Editor

The Venetian Village, on the grounds of The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, is home to six high-profile restaurants. As the name suggests, the village is modelled after Venice, complete with cobblestone streets and architecture that's deliberately old-world and quite charming.

On the July summer night that we went though, it was rather dead. Unless you're a guest of the hotel, or live in the right neighbourhood in Abu Dhabi, there's little appeal for you to be walking around the village's winding streets or along the canal. It's just too hot outside.

But we were here at the invitation of Barfly by Buddha Bar, one of the six eateries in the village. After being ID'd for a rather uncomfortable length of time by the burly security man (the manager insisted later it was customary for everyone), I was quite surprised by how lively the place was, as we were led to our table by the smiling hostess.

An extension of the Buddha Bar brand, Barfly is a two-level restaurant, bar and lounge that's stylish and intimate but has an easy, chilled-out vibe. It's food, manager Maged Hussein explains, is Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other Eastern cuisines, with an edgy twist.

We started off with a Chinese Chicken Salad, which was the least glamorous item of the menu in terms of presentation, but one of the most flavourful. A mixture of all kinds cabbages, carrots, scallions, slices of chicken and sauces, this one turned out to be the kind of dish you didn't budget for in your meal, but couldn't have enough of. We also had the Crispy Shrimps Tempura, nicely presented each with their own knotted bamboo skewers. They were fresh and crunchy, and with a side of spicy edamame, we were already on a great start.

While the ground floor was quite busy, I noticed the top floor was entirely empty. It was the summer season wane, Hussein explained, adding that the 200-seating capacity indoor adds up to 140 more outdoor when the weather cools.

For mains, my friend chose the Tropical Miso Black Cod, while I went for the Wagyu Rib Eye Steak with three signature sauces. I dug into his plate - hey, we're dining Asian-style after all - and felt the black cod, while beautifully presented, lacked a bit of flavour and over browned. My wagyu rib eye however, was perfection. Beautiful cooked, it was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and finished off in a jiffy. For desserts, don't miss the Passion Fruit and Chocolate Parfait.

Barfly is an interesting addition to the UAE dining scene. But given its current location, it will have to wait for the weather to cool down for it to really get its groove. Hopefully they'll have reinforcements at the door so they can ID every one.

The details

What: Barfly by Buddha Bar

Where: Venetian Village, The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal.

Average price for two: Dh300

Opening hours: 6pm to 2am.

Credit card: Yes

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Article Type:Restaurant review
Date:Aug 15, 2017
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