FACT visits Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel And Villas to indulge in a selection of family-style dishes from the Mediterranean coastline at The Beach House.
There is seemingly no escape from the charms of the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas. The five-star property is perched on a prime stretch of beachfront, overlooking the waters of the Arabian Gulf and the idyllic powder white sands of Saadiyat Island. Each return visit to the luxury property feels like a mini-vacation, as we leave behind the city in search of ‘island life.’ If only for an evening.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas makes for an ideal spot for late breakfast, lazy lunches and dinners under the stars, as we discovered on our most recent visit. Arriving just in time for sunset, we can’t resist a pre-dinner drink at the hotel’s latest offering, the picturesque Shala Beach Lounge. Situated on top of The Beach House, Shala Beach Lounge embraces Bali-chic to full effect and in the process offers one of the most pleasant spots for sundowners in the UAE capital.
Nestled among swaying palm fronds and with uninterrupted views of the ocean, Shala Beach Lounge offers a unique concept for Abu Dhabi and one that the capital’s diners appear to have fully embraced, judging by just how busy it is on a Friday evening. On first impressions, Shala is a cocktail bar with a tempting menu of bar bites, but delve a little deeper, and you will discover the charms of a venue that takes a holistic approach to lifestyle—mixing environmental mindfulness, spirituality and honest cuisine.
A brief meditation accompanied by the sounds of a Tibetan singing bowl provides us with the chance to take a breath and relax before indulging in the selection of expertly prepared beverages as the sun slowly sinks below the horizon. As day turns to night and the stars appear, dreamcatchers are replaced with fire pits, allowing guests to find tranquillity and fully embrace the natural surroundings of stunning Saadiyat Island.
As much as we would’ve like to spend all night at Shala Beach Lounge, a reservation just one floor below beckons and we soon find ourself swept up in an al fresco dining experience at The Beach House. A favourite breakfast spot of ours, The Beach House takes on a different guise during the evening, with its menu of Mediterranean specialities prepared masterfully by Chef Felix Petrucco. It’s a sharing-style concept and one that appears to be aligned with customers needs while encouraging a gastronomic experience, set against the sounds of lapping ocean waves.
We begin with a beautifully light avocado gazpacho which transforms the traditional tomato-based cold soup into something truly remarkable. Combining mozzarella di buffala, almonds for texture and rolled slithers of cucumber. The dish starts our meal with an unprecedented freshness and in turn, sets the tone for the culinary experience that was due to unfold.
Next to arrive is the Crudo, which presents small chunks of raw marinated salmon, with chilli, tomatoes and lemon, and the flavour balance between sweet and heat is inspired. While the Crudo may have been our favourite dish on the menu, we were also enamoured by the textural marvel of the crunchy prawns. The large, kataifi-wrapped prawns come from a playful section of the menu which is labelled ‘with the hands’, and once dipped in the accompanying chilli-garlic alioli, the shellfish become genuinely moreish.
While the main course selection covers a range of options, including fresh fish and grilled steaks, we took The Beach House teams recommendation of the dirty mellow rice, and are so glad we did! The dish is almost risotto-like in its consistency, blending the rice with blue crab, diced octopus, tomatoes and spring onions. The resulting dish is robust and full of flavour from the sea, and while the crab may require some cracking, the delicate flesh is well worth the effort.
With little room left for dessert, we relish the opportunity to prolong our evening under the star-filled sky and are presented with the Piña. A pineapple hollowed out and served upon a bed of ice. The top half features a beautifully smooth crème brûlée with a seductive crunchy top, while underneath is a fruit sorbet that ensures the evening culminates on a lighter note.
The Beach House, with its menu of home-made, family-style dishes from the Mediterranean coastline, offers an enviable location on Saadiyat Beach. Combined with a pre or post-dinner drink at Shala Beach Lounge, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas appear to have found the recipe for a perfect evening. Visit for sunset and stay for the delectable array of dishes, we guarantee you won’t regret it.
GO: Visit hyatt.com or call (0)2 407 1138 for reservations and more information.