Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hello Again!!

Hi! So I know it has been ages and ages since I've written, but I'm determined to rectify that! What happens is I get so overwhelmed with pictures and writing and blah and blah, so I just decided to start where I start! So here goes!

Last night I went to celebrity chef Todd English's Olives restaurant. I've actually heard of him because I love cooking shows and he was mentioned...somewhere. I asked my friend Dedra, to go to this restaurant with me. She says which one, I say I don't know. Then I looked in TimeOut Abu Dhabi and saw a blurb about Olives so I said, what about here. Dedra said great, where is it? I say I have no idea! So she did the rest of the research and found out it's in the Ritz Carlton hotel! Ohh la la!

Can I tell you how awesome the whole experience was?! From driving up this long, beautiful driveway, to valet parking, to walking through the lobby of the Ritz, to the restaurant itself, awesomeness!

The thing about the UAE is it's such a new country (had it's 43rd birthday this year!), that there is tons of construction going on, and also there is tons of empty space that is still desert. The Ritz-Carlton is located in one of these empty spaces. It is in a desert space with nothing else around it. The hotel is like a mini city unto itself! It is huge and is not just a hotel, but a shopping center, about 6 restaurants, a spa, and there is a dhow boat ride that will take you all the way out to the corniche or across the way to the Farimont Hotel.

And the experience starts driving thru the arches as you are greeted by a tuxoded gent with immaculate white gloves who is not even sweating in this 97 degree heat! All the employees are dressed in, I guess I would call it a sort of 18th century uniform, that have the same sort of theme but are all different and actually very beautiful and sparkly.  Plus, the hotel and the employees were all extra sparkly because it's Ramadan!

After having a bunch of pretty unsatisfactory interactions with different customer service folks this week, the level of service at the Ritz was just over the top! All the smiles and greetings and offers to help, and they almost literally jumped to answer any questions we had! We were wandering around a bit because the hotel is huge and the restaurant is in the Venetian Village part of the Ritz, which is a relatively new part of the hotel.

Outside view of the restaurant
Then, the restaurant!! I hadn't realized that the restaurant is brand new and hasn't even had it's grand opening yet. We walked in and were greeted by two lovely ladies with adorable French accents (I dare you to show me any human who doesn't love a French accent!). We had a tour of the restaurant, and were greeted by the chef who had worked with Todd English for 17 years at previous restaurants. We got a peek inside all the different rooms the restaurant has including the areas for private parties. The decor was quite elegant. One thing I noticed was there was no art work on the walls, but it was still elegant with the different textures of the walls and the beautiful lighting fixtures.

We were greeted by these two ladies!

You can watch the chefs preparing the pasta
So, what did we eat?! Well, I had a beautiful sweet potato brava for a starter. It is not something I would normally have ordered, so I was outside my little foodie box and it was definitely worth it! The sweet potato had ricotta cheese, a brown butter glaze, and a jalapeno sauce. It was beautiful and all the elements together had a perfect balance of flavor. I'm not a really spicy person so I was slightly worried about the jalapeno sauce, but it was perfect with the tartness of the ricotta and the sweetness of the brown butter glaze. I felt like I was a judge on Masterchef Australia!! Then I had a ricotta ravioli for my mains. It had veal Italian sausage and some little crunchy nuts that had a great texture. Dedra had butternut squash ravioli for a starter and an asparagus tart. The ravioli was surprisingly good! It had a savory flavored sauce but the butternut squash was actually sweet. Great surprise of flavors on your tongue.

Ricotta Ravioli, yummy!

Asparagus Tart
While we were eating, the wait staff kept us supplied with water and changed our silver service for each course, they even wiped the table of crumbs! As the server set down each course, he explained the courses and also how to get the perfect bite.

As we were leaving, the manager and the head of front of house asked us what we thought of the food and the decor and the service. They asked us for our business cards for their collection (sadly, I don't have one, but Dedra did). And when Dedra asked about validation for the valet, the head of front of house was so apologetic that they did not have that service yet and he pulled out his cell phone and added valet service to his to do list! Then he took our valet card and said he would check on our car for us. We were talking to the employees for awhile and then we said, ummm, where did he go. And she said he will be back don't worry. He came back and not only did he have the valet price waived, he had our car delivered practically in front of the restaurant so we didn't have to walk all the way back around the hotel! Talk about 5 star service!

 All in all, it was a marvelous experience and I will definitely return!!

See you soon (I hope!)!!

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