Sunday, December 1, 2013

DAY THIRTY TWO - Thanksgiving in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a country of ex-pats. As I mentioned in one of my first blog posts, 80% of the population comes from other countries. Surely then, I reasoned, some of the restaurants would provide a Thanksgiving dinner for the Americans because, if for no other reason, it would be good for business. 

I did some Googling and came up with a list of restaurants. I was calling at the last minute, so I struck out with my first few restaurants. To my relief 55th and 5th, a restaurant at The St. Regis Resort on Saadiyat Island, had openings for two at 7:30 p.m. Perfect! According to the website the British chef had "created a special menu for the occasion", and although I couldn't find the menu itself listed, I trusted that it would be good. This was the St. Regis after all, right?

At 6:30 we hailed a cab and off we went. Darkness had fallen, and in anticipation of the upcoming National Day I could see buildings brightly lit with the colors of the U.A.E. flag.

These building were a blur as we drove by, but you get the idea. Lots of red, green and white (black is the other color on the flag, but it's kind of hard to have black lights). When I first arrived Doug told me with a note of surprise in his voice that the city was decorated for Christmas. This didn't sound right to me since it's a Muslim country, so when I found out about National Day, the decorations made sense. 

I wished it was still light outside as we drove up the long, winding entryway to the St. Regis. I could see lots of palm trees and flower beds, and I'm sure it was spectacular. It sits on the Arabian Gulf side of the island, so in daytime the views out over the water must be beautiful.

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island, United Arab Emirates

We found our way to the restaurant, and as it turned out it was not crowded at all. The maitre d' showed us to a lovely table tucked into a niche which felt nice and private. Then she handed us the menus - the regular dinner menu as well as the Special Thanksgiving Menu. I opened up the latter, my mouth already watering in anticipation of a lovely turkey dinner with some creative sides. To my utter surprise I saw Whole Roasted Yellow Chicken with a Bread & Lobster Stuffing

What?!?!? I read it several times because I thought surely this could not be right. I'd no doubt this was a lovely dish, but it was NOT turkey! I looked at Doug, and it was clear he was thinking the very same thing as me. 

I put the Thanksgiving Menu aside and picked up the regular menu because really, if I couldn't have turkey then I was not going to settle for a chicken. Whole. Yellow. Roasted. Stuffed with Whatever. It was still a chicken. 

Our lovely server explained the regular menu, and we learned that 55th and 5th specializes in Wagu beef. I am not normally a beef person, but at this point I figured if I wasn't going to have turkey then I should go for the specialty of the house. We decided upon Chateaubriande with Bernaise sauce, and it was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth juicy perfection. 

Our gracious server presenting our dish.

Here is my meal. It came with house-made potato chips (crisps) which were very thin and light, and roast shallots. I got a Caesar salad on the side as well, and Doug opted for the potato puree (aka mashed potatoes).

Alas there were no apple or pumpkin dessert options on the menu, so we "settled" for a warm chocolate souffle with hazelnut ice cream and all those beautiful and edible garnishes. Not a crumb was left :-)

So while I did not have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I still had an absolutely delicious meal. And most importantly, I got to spend it in Abu Dhabi with Doug. No complaints. None.

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