This evening we concluded our long, relaxing, chill-out-and-do-nothing-special National Day weekend with dinner at Doug's favorite (thus far) seafood restaurant, Finz (a play on the word "fins"). I feel like you must be getting sick of me waxing on about my lovely meals. Just trust me when I say the meals I don't talk about, and that's most of them, are usually salads from the local hypermarket or the Grab-and-Go on the first floor of our building.
I've been hearing about Finz for ages. When I'd talk to Doug after a long day of packing and cleaning at Dad's he'd mention he'd had dinner at Finz with an NYU associate. I realized Doug was not exaggerating about dining there regularly when we walked in this evening and everyone, from the hostess to the wait staff, greeted him like an old friend. Seriously.
The food was indeed excellent. Finz has a reputation for being the best seafood restaurant in Abu Dhabi, and that's saying a lot in a city that sits on the Arabian Gulf and has a fish market reminiscent of the old Fulton Fish Market. You can see the dhows going in and our of the harbor daily, their nets piled high in the stern.
The restaurant is part of the Rotana Beach Resort but sits apart from the main complex. It's a relatively small structure set on the beach, A-frame in design, and surrounded with decks.
The interior is simple but elegant with a vaulted ceiling that exposes the structural beams and a polished wooden floor. Mood lighting, soft music, and the gentle sound of lapping waves set the mood.
We sat inside at the table in the far left-hand side of this photo, tucked into the corner by the windows. This is an old photo because the small barrier island across the way now houses a huge Cleveland Medical Clinic plus other skyscrapers. The view to the Gulf is completely obscurred, which is sad. Still the ambience of the place is warm and lovely.
"Nice", you say, and you'd be right. But it turns out this restaurant, this structure, is unique in Abu Dhabi.
"Unique?" you say and look again at the pictures.
It turns out that Finz is the only building in Abu Dhabi made completely out of wood.
When I first read this in a travel guide of the region I did a bit of a double-take. I took a pause and digested the information. Upon reflection it made sense to me. In a country that is mostly sand and has very little vegetation, much less trees that can produce lumber, it makes complete sense.
I spent the first 60 years of my life in the Northeastern United States. As a child I lived in New York State's Hudson River Valley with its view of the Catskill Mountains purple in the distance. I lived most of my adult life in Central New York with its green rolling hills and Finger Lakes, and finally I lived in Hoboken. Even in Hoboken we have trees! Though I knew better, I pretty much took trees and, by extension, wooden houses and buildings pretty much for granted. Yes I knew in some parts of the country, even our our Southwest, that wood houses were less common. But still I was taken aback to learn that there is one, and only one, totally wooden building in Abu Dhabi.
I think it's a good thing indeed to be reminded that many things in our lives that we take for granted and don't think twice about are pretty darn special in other parts of the world.