On The Menu: Waves Bar, Novotel Al Bustan
As the name suggests, this Abu Dhabi venue is making waves.

Abu Dhabi’s Novotel Al Bustan is a hotel that’s full of surprises when it comes to food and beverage. The four-star property centrally located in the heart of Abu Dhabi is home to some of the best value for money dining options in the capital.

The hotel’s latest opening is Waves Bar, a casual dining venue that opened last year. Although not close to the Arabian Gulf, the restaurant does a fantastic job of capturing the carefree vibe of being at the beach. An appealing poolside spot located on the first floor of the hotel, Waves offers sweeping city views from the expansive terrace. The multi-purpose venue is actually an extension of the hotel’s health and wellness centre and by day works as a relaxed spot for a poolside lunch or post-workout snack. Once the sun sets though, things switch up and the ambience in the venue changes with the arrival of night. Filament light bulbs are elegantly strung between wooden cabanas replete with plump cushions that make for a comfortable spot to enjoy a sundowner or two.

With the arrival of the cooler climate and al fresco dining season, it’s the terrace with its outdoor bar and bean bag seating that is likely to offer the most appeal at Waves. Inside there is a pleasant bar area where guests are invited to perch on one of the high stools and enjoy one of the many expertly mixed drinks while listening to the chilled-out tunes.

Settling into one of the cabanas, we’re surprised by the versatility of the QR-driven menu that manages to bridge the gap between pub grub and comfort food classics with ease. The menu is broken down into several sections that include fun names such as classics, on bread, holy smokes and guilty pleasures.

The menu at Waves has been designed with sharing in mind, and we’d suggest ordering a selection of dishes to the table, allowing you to experience as much of the varied menu as possible. The towering nachos platter is a mammoth dish that offers a literal mountain of tortilla chips piled high with tomato salsa, green chilli, sour cream, guacamole, shredded parmesan and Cheddar sauce. When we say the portions are more than generous, we aren’t kidding, and the nachos are easily more than enough for four people to share. 

Marked as ‘Waves Faves’ the signature dishes at Waves are a collection of Asian-inspired steamed baos that can be ordered in a variety of flavours. The large pillow-like buns are served in pairs or can be easily mixed and matched. The crispy duck bao had our hearts, served with pipettes of hoisin sauce that can be squeezed onto the brittle and flavoursome shards of duck meat. The pulled beef iteration boasts tender beef coated in a sticky and sweet teriyaki sauce, while the shrimp bao features sesame seeds and drizzled sesame oil. There’s interactivity to the dining experience that brings an element of fun and accessories are provided in the form of black gloves, to ensure diners don’t get messy when devouring the undeniably moreish bows.

Waves Bar also offers an extensive poutine menu, and it’s evident the Canadian national dish has made its mark at this particular venue. Starting as a monthly special that became so popular that there are now six variations of the gravy laden fries available, with a seemingly endless option of toppings. Tapping into Abu Dhabi resident’s craving for comfort food that reminds them of home, Waves is one of just a handful of venues offering poutine in the UAE capital.

Coinciding with the arrival of al fresco dining season, new additions have arrived on the Waves menu, including the fiery battered shrimps tornado, a quartet of tender grilled lamb chops and the option of either poached or grilled salmon.

The beverages are also not to be overlooked, and the varied range of mocktails and mixed drinks are bound to please. Much like the food, the beverages at Waves are very reasonably priced and feature funky names such as passion spice, corpse reviver, red snapper and cast a spell. For those looking to encapsulate the beachside castaway feel, the going coco is not to be missed! Served within an actual coconut, this drink is guaranteed to instil you with island vibes.

Waves is a venue that offers diners a casual and relaxed dining environment and the expansive wooden terrace with its cabanas and beanbags is an absolute delight. As the name suggests, this rooftop spot has already made Waves with residents and visitors alike, since opening last year!

GO: Call (0)2 501 6444 for reservations and more information.