Thursday, 27 July 2017

Abu Dhabi: Two Contrasting Cafes To Visit

So we've established that summer in the UAE is pretty hot. With a "feels like" temperature of 48 degrees you need to find some indoor venues to while away the hottest part of the day in. For me, that's a cafe, coffee, a book or a stack of magazines and newspapers to work through. Caffeine and people-watching is the way to go and was the sum total of my plans for my weekend in Abu Dhabi.

My first stop was a little indulgent. Le Cafe at the Emirates Palace is definitely a cut above my favoured Starbucks but we all need a treat, especially when living abroad has curtailed our ASOS and G&T spending pretty significantly. I made a reservation for one (something I am feeling less and less weird about doing) at 11.30am and made myself wear heeled sandals and a floral dress for the occasion.


The cafe has quite a European feel, the decor feeling similar to a London favourite, The Wolseley. I picked a spot by the window on a sofa and settled in. I had to order the 24k gold-flaked Palace Cappuccino (or as I would have called it, the carratccino). There's also a cappuccino made with camel milk if you're feeling adventurous (I went with my usual soy milk). Arriving on a silver tray with a dainty glass of water, a dish of chocolate and a date, I briefly felt like a princess and also slightly perturbed that I'd just paid around £12 for a coffee (when back in London I would barely flinch spending more on a cocktail). The coffee tasted as good as it looked although the gold leaf tasted bizarrely of absolutely nothing. I'm not sure what I was expecting it to taste like. If you like your coffee stronger than I do (child tastebuds) I would recommend getting an extra shot of espresso but for me this was perfect.


The menu is a pretty standard high-end cafe menu - eggs, pastries, cakes and afternoon tea making up the bulk of it. There are several pages of different caviar options at the back to remind you that this is the Middle East after all. I dithered over ordering a breakfast dish but, not feeling very hungry, ordered a scone instead. The "scone" turned out to be a platter of four served warm (two plain, two raisin) with fresh berries and raspberry, orange and passionfruit jams. Maybe the price on the menu should have indicated the size of the offering but no complaints - it was beautifully presented and I was able to take two away with me for later. 


My second cafe visit was one I spotted on Instagram, obviously. No. 57 Boutique Cafe is located on the Al Batten Harbour - a bright, airy, insta-chic spot which, during Eid was serving breakfast all day. While the activated charcoal pancakes looked like a 'grammers dream, I had to have the avocado on toast. I'm trying to discourage my sweet tooth, says the girl who accidentally ordered a platter of scones the day before. 


I started with an iced coffee. No 57 loses hipster credentials for not having soy or almond milk on offer but this was really good. I should just be a grown-up and learn to like black coffee anyway. The nutella espresso was also tempting but given that I'd pretty much spent all weekend drinking various forms of coffee I made myself stop at one.


The interior is chic and light, service was fast and friendly and despite making a reservation for 1pm it wasn't particularly busy when I visited, possibly due to the aforementioned 40+ degree temperatures and the fact that half of the UAE seem to leave the country for Eid. The menu at No. 57 contains your usual breakfast options and a few interesting ones, like the black pancakes and a black bagel. The cafe also sells its own range of chocolates to take away which look perfect for gifts if you're the type of person who could trust yourself not to eat them first.


My avocado on toast was the first I'd had for a while - Ramadan meant that my usual weekend cafe habit was put on hold for a month so I feel like I enjoyed this even more. Served on a piece of toasted ciabatta, the avocado portion was super generous. It comes with optional poached eggs but I'm glad I didn't opt for them this time as the portion was pretty big anyway, and it meant I could use the "vegan" hashtag on Instagram.

What's the best coffee you've tried?


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5 comments

  1. A scone platter. A scone PLATTER. These are things that dreams are made of.

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  2. The scone platter looks so good- I love the different topping options!

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  3. Everything looks awesome. I don't think I've ever had anything with gold leaf - fancy!

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  5. Omg Caratccino is a fabulous name, haha! I like the look of No 57, those chairs look great ;-) I've had a breakfast meal which consisted of activated charcoal bread but honestly it just tasted normal. Good you went with a good ol' fave!

    Cherie ✿ sinonym

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