La Ville – Exactly like nothing else

The first hotel to hit City Walk, Al Safa is La Ville, a boutique hotel under the Marriott groups Autograph collection boasting a refreshing modern but minimalistic edge and consisting of around eighty guest rooms and five F&B outlets, three of which I got to experience recently.

We experienced a Culinary Immersion evening organised by Monica at DoinDubai. Starting with Look Up Bar. Make sure you do, as I nearly didn’t notice the sky above me as I was too fixated with the view of the Burj Khalifa over the infinity pool.

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This rooftop bar situated on Level 5, serves up your regular cocktail options as well as some signatures using the hotels own mix of beauty elixirs. Cocktail with beauty benefits? Sign. Me. Up! As well as a variety of other drinks they also have a light bites menu. Some of the options include some rather large jalepenos stuffed with feta cheese, homemade marinated mixed olives and artisan vegetable chips. Think purple potato, beetroot and yuca all served with a tasty onion dip.

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Chival Global Social is the hotels all day dining restaurant focusing on healthy food. The restaurant opens out onto a terrace and even has a private dining area good for 8-10 guests. This room is gorgeously decorated with leafy green plants and quotes on the walls. The overhead lamps add ample light and I almost forgot what it’s like to dine in a restaurant that isn’t dimly lit.

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We enjoyed a range of appetizers including a beet & lentil salad, a spiced cauliflower and freekeh mix as well as my favorite dish a Tuna Tataki and Cucumber Salad with glass noodles, edamame and a miso vinaigrette, followed by mains consisting of Island Prawns, a rather greasy Prime Burger served in a pretzel bun and the hard to pronounce agnolotti pasta, pockets of pasta squares cooked al dente and stuffed with ricotta and spinach, the latter of which we ordered a second plate.

The third F&B outlet on the culinary immersion tour was Graze gastro grill. It’s a hip venue playing some upbeat tunes with an impressive ceiling. Another reason for you to Look Up. This was the location for our final stop on the culinary immersion and we enjoyed dinner over this gorgeously lit table.

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First up we had a pre dessert made up of a blueberry and balsamic sorbet topped with a virgin mojito cream and a sprig of mint. A tangy palette cleanser that wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Followed by a smoked vanilla ice cream, a Japanese cotton cheesecake, a dark chocolate missipi pie and a white chocolate zabaglione. My favorite out of all the desserts by far was the Japanese cotton cheesecake. It was fluffy and light served with a sour wild berry coulis.

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The hotel is still in soft opening but you can expect a grand opening next month. I’m looking forward to my next visit and trying out the Grape Skin Wine Bar which will be starting Ladies nights soon.

As always it was a pleasure dining with my fellow foodies Monica, Nairuz, Rachel, Meghana, Javeria, Mark and Rohit.

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Next time you’re in the area, don’t forget to pay La Ville a visit. There’s plenty of options which are sure to tickle your tastebuds.

Chival Global Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Have you tried Zengo’s revamped pan-asian menu?

Make no mistake, Zengo is located in Le Royal Meridien and not Meridien Mina Seyahi. Also note, there is a separate parking area for direct access to Zengo. Don’t put the car in valet unless you wish to take a short stroll through the hotel grounds to find it.

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Zengo is probably the biggest Pan Asian restaurant I’ve stepped foot in. Spread out over an indoor and outside dining area with separate bars, 3 of them to be exact. One end houses the sushi bar and grill whilst the middle is a long bar with opposite being the resident DJ who mixes house tunes all evening.

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The furnishings are sleek and detailed with the overall ambiance inviting. The outdoor bar is impressive although the yellow lighting over the outdoor dining table which overlooks the beach, sounds great but it reality wasn’t great for photos so we chose to sit inside at a semi circle booth.

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The food menu is one single page covering Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine which is a new directive created by Chinese Chef Lieu back in September.

The raw dishes are executed and presented beautifully. The fresh seafood tasted divine. I can highly recommend trying the Suzuki aka the seabass sashimi.

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The dumplings I found to be quite average. Not a lot of flavor at all. I’ve tasted better dumplings at Din Tai Fung. The duck pancakes was a strange combination of flavors and textures, not a dish I’d order again.

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I wasn’t fond of the  grilled seafood, as it wasn’t juicy, perhaps a little overcooked as it was powdery in texture.

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The popular main dish is the coconut chicken and I can see why, char grilled sliced pieces of juicy chicken on a bed of coconut sauce with a generous garnishing of green herbs. Delish!

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Our waitress Madina was like our best friend. Chatting away and answering all of our questions without hesitation and also feeding back our thoughts to the chef.

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The drink list is extensive and impressive. I immensely enjoyed the Italian wine. I could of easily knocked back a bottle to myself.

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Ladies Night @ Zengo 7-12pm every Tuesday 3 free drinks and 50% off food

The restaurant was quiet when we dined on a Wednesday night. My guess it would be hard to fill considering the size. I’ve been told the Ladies Night gets quite busy though so it’s best to make a reservation.

Next time I visit I’ll definitely re-order the Thai food and the raw fish.

Call for reservations 043995555

Zengo - Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Iftar @ A La Turca, Rixos, The Palm

If you’re a lover of Turkish food then you are in for a treat this Ramadan. Al La Turca in Rixos The Palm is dishing up some of the best Turkish dishes in town. (This has been verified by my Turkish flat mate who joined me for the Iftar evening).IMG_8590There is so much choice it can be a little overwhelming at first but it’s easy to navigate and there is plenty of staff on hand if you need some help.IMG_8616IMG_8618IMG_8612IMG_8623Freshly baked pide, soups, salads, mezze, Turkish doner, mante, the list goes on. The stuffed eggplant had to be my favorite as I even went back for seconds.IMG_8605IMG_8604Not to forget the always delicious and traditional Arabic baked lamb ouzi.IMG_8610They also have a live pasta station where they add blue cheese & walnuts. Mmmm.IMG_8632I loved the addition of the live BBQ station where you can select your meat be in T-Bone, beef fillets or lamb chops to be freshly grilled to your liking outside.IMG_8631Turkish ice cream stand provides entertainment for all the onlookers. There was even a Turkish sweet stand outside.IMG_8593The dessert options are plentiful with something to please everyone’s taste buds. My favorite was the Turkish delight stand with multiple flavored Turkish Delights to choose from.IMG_8594Fresh fruit stands line the outdoor seating area for guests to help them selves to.IMG_8592Turkish coffee and tea are available for after your meal are is included in the package.

The service is 5 star from the moment you arrive until the time you leave even though it’s a full house. It’s probably one of the best Iftars I’ve been to in Dubai in terms of offerings.

At 185aed for adults it’s a little on the higher end but it’s well worth it for what you get. If you’re taking kids with you between the age of 4-12 they dine at half price while kids under 4 eat free.

The iftar buffet is available from sunset until 9pm which is a little more generous than some other places which are kicking you out the door by 8:30pm.

For reservations call 04 457 54 54 or email dine.dubai@rixos.com

A La Turca - Rixos The Palm Dubai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brasserie Quartier – A French fairy tale

Once upon a time in Downtown Dubai, way back in 2015, the grand manor that is the St. Regis was built. This brand new premises is spectacular by day but even more so if you arrive in the evening. The furnishings will speak for themselves, gorgeous marbled stairs, giant chandeliers; the St. Regis oozes luxury.

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Take the lift or the stairs to the first floor and you will find the new French restaurant ~ Brasserie Quartier.

An invite reached the hands of a few selected foodies to attend ‘Brunch at the Manor’ hosted by Zomato and St. Regis for another #ZomatoMeetup.

The stylish affair was kicked off with a welcome drink from the cart at the restaurant’s entrance.

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The live in house band started playing some jazz cover songs which added to the elegant ambiance of the brunch whilst the foodies sipped on some specialty cocktails.

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The Parisian Punch with Absyinthe has a nice kick to it

Unlike other brunches in Dubai, The BQ’s brunch offers a seated service where various courses are brought directly to your table. Although if you wish to leave your seat you can also help yourself from the various stations including seafood, cheese, bread and cold cuts.

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Cold cuts & foie gras

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A selection of canapes including snails beignet and croquette fingers
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The fresh seafood platter

The foie gras was by far the best I’ve ever tasted. Rich, creamy and moreish accompanied by a sweet homemade cranberry jam. Delicious!

Port & cheese pairing was provided by Chef Sofiane himself. Just mention what type of cheese you like and he’ll serve you up a generous plate full to try, along with a matching port.

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A selection of salads including a fabulous truffle labneh

I think by this stage and a few drinks later we forgot that we still had mains to come. The carving carts soon arrived at our table. The rib eye steak was seasoned perfectly and the roast duck breast was cooked just right. The creamy truffle mash was just divine.

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The carving station; Beef Rib Eye on the bone, Roast Chicken and Roast Duck Breast

We enjoyed a palate cleanser of lemon sorbet served with either vodka or bubbly before moving into the patisserie for dessert. This is where you can help yourself to the chocolate fountain, sweet display, fairy floss and popcorn cart whilst the staff are on hand waiting to serve you gelato with your choice of toppings or a variety of in house made chocolates, pastries and cakes.

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Dark, milk and white chocolate fountain

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Sweet corner
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A selection of treats

This is probably one of the best brunches I’ve been to in terms of the food quality. A commendable variety of well executed gourmet food on offer and a great selection of beverages too. I love the idea of the table side service which means you aren’t constantly up and down you can enjoy the live entertainment and be social rather than queuing in buffet lines. I’d also recommend dressing up for this one.

The non-alcoholic brunch is 450AED

Brunch with wines, beers and bubbly is 550AED

Bollinger brunch is 650AED

For bookings call – 04 4551614

Eat well,

Nossy x

Brasserie Quartier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Say Jambo to Zanzibar

For EID Holidays this September my girlfriends and I were deciding where to go. We had 4 options. Pintrest boards were made as well as a list of pros and cons and the small island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast came up trump.

Zanzibar is a 5 and a half hour direct flight from DXB. We flew at 4am and arrived at 8am with the time difference which gave us a full day upon arrival. We stayed for 3 nights and had 4 full days to explore Zanzibar.

We arranged a transfer with our hotel for a set fee. We stayed up North in a town called Nungwi which is about an hour and a half from the airport. Our hotel was a 4* star boutique hotel called the Zanzibari. The manager made us feel very welcome.

After check in and a beverage on arrival we were taken to our rooms. We stayed on the ground floor but have read the suites are bigger and with better views. The Zanzibari has it’s own private beach as well as pool with a bar and plunge pools overlooking the ocean.

Safari Blue Tour – This was our highlight of our trip without a doubt. The tour consisted of dolphin watching, multiple snorkeling stops, a quick stop on a sand bank followed by a BBQ lunch of freshly caught seafood, local Kilimanjaro beer and the ability to climb a fallen Baobab tree.

The RockRefer to my post here.

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Prison Island – Our driver for the day after The Rock, took us into Stone Town where you can catch boats from the beach over to Prison Island. We did not book a tour however we paid our drivers “friend” $40USD plus tip in total to take the 4 of us for a return boat trip. The entrance to the Tortoise Sanctuary was USD$4 per adult.
The lovely English manager gave us a tour with free commentary and history about the Island and the tortoises. We even got to hold the baby tortoises which are kept in a locked cage and guarded by security at night as some people keep stealing them.

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Fodrohni markets – Is very popular amongst tourists and locals and its where you can find street food. You can judge for yourself whether you should eat there but we stuck to more established restaurants.

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Stone Town – If you’re going here in the daylight, I assume it would be fine. We however visited late one afternoon as the sun was going down. I had done a lot of research about where to eat in Stone Town and wanted to head to one particular restaurant. We set off in the winding maze of stone buildings and uneven footpaths.
We asked for help and were shown in many different directions which leads us around in circles. After feeling frustrated and now walking around in the pitch black with motorbikes beeping as they rode past our safety net quickly dwindled and we followed a group of mothers and children right out of there and back onto a main road. Now personally I would recommend for anyone that wishes to go and experience Stone Town, to take a tour. As even in broad daylight you are bound to get lost.

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Orphanage – On our final day in Zanzibar we spent the morning relaxing on our private beach and taking multiple snaps of this stunning view and location we’ve called home. Noticing we hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated we decided to leave our hotel a little earlier and asked the manager to recommend an orphanage that our private driver can stop on our way back so we could meet the kids and make a donation.
It’s sad to know that a lot of these children are without families but these shelters make sure the kids get the love and attention they need. Not to mention food, water, shelter and also education.

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Vaccinations – Not essential (I checked with various people) however to be on the safe side I got a yellow fever jab ((which lasts for 10 years)) and also started taking malaria tablets but I personally would recommend not taking them as the side effects can be quite bad. Do your research. Instead, load up with highly effective insect repellent and be sure to wear clothing to cover your arms and legs.

DO: Take USD. The Zanzibari Shilling is rarely used.

DO: Tip and round up

DO: Book your tours

DO: Your research on the best areas to stay depending on the length of your trip.

DO: Learn the local lingo. Just some basic phrases will get you by.

DON’T: Drink the tap water. Drink bottled water only.

DON’T: Book a hotel that has a non-cancellation policy like we did. As we did find something closer and more affordable however it was too late to cancel. Although in the end it worked out fine as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Zanizbari.

Traveled September 2015
Flights: AED 1740 – You can fly direct from DXB to ZAN with flydubai. They run a once a day service.
Accommodation: AED 1040pp based on twin share in a garden room
Visa: USD 50 payable upon arrival
Tours: Safari Blue – USD65pp
Spending: I took USD400 which was more than enough. Food is relatively cheap even at 5 star establishments.

Eat well, travel often.

Nossy xxx

Staycation @ The Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi

My friend invited me to stay at The Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi. I happily accepted as it’s not often I go to Abu Dhabi and if I do, it’s only to Yas Island. So getting to see a new part of Abu Dhabi (this time Saadiyat Island) was a nice change.

The hotel is next to the St Regis and boasts it’s own private beach as well as suites, villas, 3 pools, multiple restaurants and conference rooms.

We checked into our suite in the morning which i’m quite sure is the biggest hotel suite I’ve ever stayed in.

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After we recovered from the grandness of our suite we got changed and headed down to the beach to soak up the sun. Towels and cold water are provided by the friendly staff. The ocean was warm and welcoming, the sand was toasty under our feet and the beach was one of the cleanest I’ve seen in the UAE.

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For lunch we headed to The Beach House where we sat outside on the comfortable lounges. The service here is faultless. The burrata cheese salad was out of this world. My first time trying burrata and I was so impressed. Softer than a mozzarella and the fresh cherry tomatoes, rocket and balsamic dressing accompanied the cheese texture perfectly.

For mains we had a mix of the catch of the day. Two fillets, one Sherri and the other Sea Bream. The Sea Bream was light and flakey, a delicate fish. The Sherri was a thicker fillet, a very fleshy fish.

Beach House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Then we headed to the poolside cabanas which sit along side the infinity pool. I tried the homemade strawberry ice cream which was just divine.

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We made a reservation for dinner at the Park Bar & Grill however due to a function we had to sit outside. The outside seating area is poolside and by night the palm trees are lit up with fairy lights creating a nice ambiance.

The service here is impeccable with every wait staff looking after us from start to finish.IMG_9031As well as a bread basket, they also served us a starter of sliced smoked duck breast and shredded beetroot. A fabulous combination of flavours.IMG_9032For an appetizer I ordered the king crab leg. Super fresh and delicate flesh served with wedges of lemon.IMG_9037
For mains we opted for a wagyu tenderloin. So tasty and perfectly grilled. I had a bernaise sauce on the side but it was not even required as the meat was so flavorful. I also had a side of asparagus sautéed in butter.

IMG_9045For dessert we decided to move inside and upstairs to the bar. We shared a dessert sampler and also a pineapple flambé served with ice-cream and a caramel sauce, the latter being my favorite.IMG_9055IMG_9056IMG_9060Before we checked out the next morning we had breakfast at The Cafe. It’s buffet style and they serve the usual breads, cereals, fruits, sausages, beef bacon, roast tomatoes etc, as well as pancakes & waffles and a chef on hand to make eggs as per your request. I also noticed they served congee, typically an asian speciality was a nice touch. The restaurant gets very busy inside though so would recommend going down early.

Overall I had such a pleasant stay at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi and I’m sure you would too!

Eat well, travel often.

Nossy x

http://abudhabi.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html