With a revamped venue, a new food menu, and refreshing cocktails, Iris Yas Island has become a prime party spot for many who flock to Yas Marina for a chilled-out evening with friends. FACT went to check out this trendy restaurant/lounge to see if Iris lives up to its cool-crowd status…

When it comes to keeping it cool, Iris does swanky down to a tee. Located in the heart of Yas Island, this upscale lounge and restaurant, has become a favourite with the city’s socialites, business people, party-goers and those who want an alternative destination to the centre of Abu Dhabi, and somewhere that serves good food and drinks with a great atmosphere. The venue has a real urban-city feel, with stylish interiors like custom-made, black-steel light fittings and varied seating including barstyle high chairs and tables, comfy, cushioned sofas, and a garden area with terrace-inspired furniture. Iris also has the advantage of being in an amazing location, overlooking Yas Marina and providing breathtaking views (we can only imagine the lively buzz and crowd this place gets during events like the F1!).iris yas island 4

The venue’s uber-trendy character is all down to Lebanese designer Suzy Nasr, who is the visionary behind all of Iris’ interiors. As the creator of the original concept, located in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Suzy’s idea behind the initial Iris concept was to create a tropical yet modern getaway, with an environment that exudes a sense of harmony and balance, simultaneously being trendy yet cosy with an edge. We arrived at Iris on a Friday evening when it was half-filled. There were large groups of friends enjoying drinks and a catch up, as well as smaller more intimate gatherings too. It’s no secret that you’ll instantly feel like you have to be part of a cool crowd to be here. We opted to sit inside, and though service was a little slow, we finally managed to place an order for drinks and some sharing plates off the food menu.

Out came the Australian wagyu mini burgers, rock shrimp tempura, seared sea scallops, oven-baked Mediterranean sea bass, lobster risotto, and char-grilled Australian tenderloin. Everything was presented nicely and made in perfect portions for sharing. Our standouts here were the wagyu mini burgers (the special chef’s sauce was yummy), the sea bass drizzled in a beautiful lemon sauce, and the tenderloin, cooked to medium perfection. For dessert, we’d recommend the lush chocolate fondant – a classic choice that wins every time.

We loved the airy space of the lounge and the combination of vibrant hues, tranquil earthy tones and the occasional burst of unexpected colour that gave the place an uplifted feel. The use of special materials like thermo wood in the bar area is clever and impressive and the furniture has a great combination of wood and fabric. It is the inviting and relaxed mood at Iris that keeps loyal punters coming back. The food is simple but with a plentiful choice, and the dishes are satisfyingly tasty. We were left a tad disappointed by the inattentive service, especially as the place wasn’t packed. That said, we’ll definitely return to see if Iris Yas Island can tick all the boxes of a perfect dinner and drinks venue second-time around.

GO: Iris Yas Island is open Monday to Saturdays from 6pm to 3am. Visit www.irisabudhabi.com or call (0)5 5160 5636 for reservations and more information.