Where: Venetian Village, Ritz Carlton, Near Maaqta Bridge, Abu Dhabi
How much: AED 500 for 2 [approx.]
Recommended: Signature cocktails [Rock & Sweet], and deep fried spicy calamari
If you go to Barfly, don’t come out without a cocktail in you.
A bar, lounge, and restaurant rolled into one, Barfly Abu Dhabi maintains the upscale décor and nostalgia of the Buddha Bar family, with a hint of notoriety and home.
Twenty years ago, opened in Paris as a watering hole for intellectuals and a supper club with an Asian obsession, Barfly has a backstory as good as any bar in the UAE.
Here’s the detailed Barfly Abu Dhabi review:
Cocktails, Stories & a Show
As we headed straight to the long bar for early evening cocktails, behind bartenfers flipping bottles with flair, we noticed a poster of Bukowski. Right off the bat, with him scandalously staring down at you from the wall behind the bar, you feel obligated to indulge – and so, you do.
By far, the best cocktails we’ve tried in the UAE – unique spirits and combinations at Barfly come for people with every taste, sweet and light for the newbies and strong and subtle for the seasoned bar-hopper.
Their Thai Chili Margarita sneaks up on you with a strong kick of spice at the end of every refreshing sip. Another smoked cocktail called Rock & Sweet, with theatrics galore, is worth a drive down from Dubai.
For appetizers, we began with the spicy Miso Bouillabaisse and Cream of Mushroom Soup, Deep Fried Spicy Calamari, Chinese Vegetable Spring Rolls and Dim Sum.
The highlight was the melt-in-your-mouth deep-fried calamari with a banging sauce to go. The dim sum did not disappoint either with well-cooked seasoned filling and a thin layer of dough.
Word to the wise: If you’re diving into the Bouillabaisse, make sure you like seafood. It is a rich, intense flavor of the sea.
One of their bestsellers [aside from the lobster], the Tropical Miso Black Cod leapt off the menu as an obvious choice, and reasonably so. The fish fell apart under the lightest touch of the fork and the miso complimented the char well.
Every nibble of the sushi platter was a delight, with a stand-out California Roll.
The Indonesian Fried Noodles are mildly spicy with an impressive mushroom-infused sauce.
After a stellar meal, the closing was expected to be standing-ovation worthy. While not quite there, the chocolate fondant was oozy in the middle, paired with vanilla ice cream and caramel.
Their mochi ice cream is refreshing, but only try the green tea if you’re not averse to a bitter after-taste in a dessert.
Service & Ambience
At the door, servers and a sculpture greet you – an oddly in place Greek sculpture of a headless winged angel – as is customary of all Buddha Bars establishments.
A long bar modeled after the original one in ’96 Paris with blue and green tiles glows in the dim lights, while light boxes with graffiti-filled drawings lend the room luminosity.
You would think the mixed interior of red couches, dark curtains, and Greek statues are decidedly out of place, but the theme feels cohesive, with a tongue-in-cheek Moulin Rouge vibe.
A black metal staircase takes you to the intimate and large seating area upstairs with curtains and a separate entrance, specific to large parties, where privacy is a built-in feature.
Interested? Please note:
Their elaborate, value-friendly and unique brunch is set to launch in September-October 2016.
The dress code is smart casual [It’d be best not to wear shorts, sporty shoes or t-shirts].
Shisha is available outdoors.
Have you been to Barfly Abu Dhabi? What was your take on the place? Tell us in the comments below.