I think it’s safe to say that my experiences of Abu Dhabi so far have been heavily influenced by food.
Now, I completely understand that it’s a far cry from my usual fitness posts full of exercise routines, food diaries & corny motivational quotes – but as well as being ‘that fitness girl‘, I’m now also ‘that expat girl‘ exploring a whole new country and what it has to offer us. Plus, food literally makes me so damn happy, and is such a huge part of my life – how could I leave it out!?
That being said, here’s the latest episode of my Iftar reviews. For those who haven’t read my previous reviews –
shame on you read them here. Iftar has proven to be something that I absolutely adore (but my body absolutely hates) and if you don’t have a clue what I’m on about, read below:
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting. This year, Ramadan began on Thursday 18th June, and will finish on Friday 17th July. During this time, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, with no food or drink at all (along with no smoking). Iftar literally translates to ‘breakfast’ and is the evening meal where the fast is broken, just after prayer.
This has become a little weekly tradition for us, and this week was the turn of Le Meridien Abu Dhabi.
Le Meridien Abu Dhabi was one of the hotels that I had read quite a lot about, and so I was very excited to be experiencing Iftar at The Latest Recipe.
I’ll let you into a little secret… I’d done a little snooping around already!
I was immediately intrigued when I’d come across a picture of this gorgeous bar on the beach, and when enquiring as to where it was – I was told it was at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi, and that they also had an English Pub and Sports Bar. SOLD!! So, when me and Matt were on the right side of town last week, we popped into the hotel and took a walk around ‘Le Meridien Village’, which consists of cute restaurants and bars within gorgeous gardens. And the cherry on top? They’ve got a private beach as well.
But this time around, we had a purpose for re-visitng Le Meridien Abu Dhabi. We were here for Iftar.
It was the first one we’d been to where we were seated before the sun had set and fast could be broken, and both myself and Matt agreed that it was a really fantastic experience. We watched generations of families getting together at long dinner tables, and friends greeting each other as their long day of fasting came to an end.
The great team at The Latest Recipe and Le Meridien Abu Dhabi allowed us to head in early to take some photos of the incredible displays, and we definitely weren’t disappointed with what we saw. Orion Munoz was extremely helpful, offering to take us to our table early so that we were able to get the photos that we wanted.
This experience of Iftar was quite different to the previous, as we followed suit with the groups of people around us and picked up some foods to have on our table before Iftar had even begun. So..
To Begin With…
…We of course found the juices and drinks on offer. Unfortunately I am not a huge fan of some of the more traditional drinks, so I did avoid the airan (yoghurt) and jalab (date blossom), opting for a safe-sounding lemon mint. Matt went for kameraldin (apricot), and we both found them delightfully sweet & refreshing.
Dates had already been placed on our table, and huge bowls of nuts and dried fruits were available to break the fast slowly whilst families and friends caught up at the end of another long day of Ramadan.
On our table to begin with, we had an incredible mix of foods. I ventured off to the salad and mezze section, whilst Matt obviously went straight for the meat. It’s so unfortunate that I’m not quite clued up with what all of the dishes are called, but the array of smells just drew me in, and a colourful plate emerged from it all.
Butter naan was being freshly made, and so that just had to be picked up to mop up our hummus and olive tapenade.
Along with the fresh naan, chefs were cooking massive skewers of chicken in what seemed to be a well at one live station – kofta’s, beef & chicken skewers on the grill at another – and serving freshly made soup at another – and this was just to start! An eyes-bigger-than-belly moment took over and we had a little feast on our hands!
We promise ourselves that we have to try something new at every Iftar, and this one was no exception. We tried meat sambousek’s & kebbeh, and though we were apprehensive, I’m so glad we gave them a go!
…Were the array even more amazing foods. The buffet stations truly felt endless, and we just didn’t know where to begin. I’d seen the massive serving dish for the traditional Ouzi on our way in, and I was really looking forward to trying some of that for our main course. For those who don’t know what Ouzi is, it’s a whole roasted lamb served on a bed of oriental rice. I’ve had the Ouzi at each Iftar that we have been to, but this one was by far the best. The lamb was cooked ab.so.lutely perfectly – I could eat it for days!
Alongside this, we also had some beautifully seasoned potatoes, more chicken from those huuuge incredible skewers, and rice with chickpeas and cashew nuts (a simple dish that I have fallen in love with and fully intend on trying to make myself).
We could have tried so much more, if only our stomachs allowed – because there were plenty other dishes that we just didn’t touch. Chefs were whipping up massive woks of beef, huge chicken dishes and other traditional foods were being served that we just didn’t have the room for!
The service throughout was flawless – from the chefs behind the live cooking stations to the people clearing our plates. Everyone was so attentive and helpful. Considering it was our first Iftar where we were sat before the break of the fast, the restaurant team let us know when Iftar was to start & offered other soft drinks from the bar straight away. It’s always refreshing to watch a team of people work seamlessly together, with not one member of staff stressing out or looking as if they were in above their heads. The calmness of the team meant that, for once, I wasn’t sat watching and judging their movements (a bad trait for someone in the hospitality industry, believe me).
The Best Bit..
…Ohhhhh, the best bit. Even though we had feasted on the incredible savouries available, the delights of dessert were always on my mind. And considering we’d been in over two hours previously to take photos – I’d already short-listed the desserts that were going on my plate. Once again, we said we’d try something new, and so we both picked up a couple of items unknown to us to try.
We tried luqaimat, which were sweet dumplings covered in a date/sugar syrup (in-credible), and these incredible filo triangles stuffed with qishta (pastry cream). We of course went for some other desserts as well, my favourites being the hazelnut cake and the white chocolate and coconut cake. Literally, to die for!
And how about the incredible chocolate fountain!! Not just for the kids, right?! I had to get involved by letting the warm milk chocolate smother a marshmallow – the epitome of indulgence.
We both got involved at the ice cream station (very popular with children and adults alike) topping ours with white chocolate pieces, chocolate balls and cookies. Now can you see why dessert is my favourite part?
All In All…
I loved Le Meridien Abu Dhabi. Really loved it. The service was fabulous and the food was spectacular. The best quality from all of the Iftar’s that we’ve been to so far, and considering it isn’t one of the more expensive ones – you’d be silly not to go. 125 AED net, and buy two get a third for free. My advice?? Book now!
After enjoying the Iftar and talking to Oriol some more, we ventured around ‘Le Meridien Village’ and had a couple of drinks in their English pub & sports bar. I won’t delve too much, because I’m really looking forward to spending a whole evening in these places and talking to you all about them some more. I can definitely see Wakatua being one of my regular jaunts… and let’s not start on the spa! ❤
To book in for Iftar at Le Meridien Abu Dhabi, call +971 (0)2 644 6666
Our bucket list of Iftar’s that we’d like to attend is nearly done, and with just under two weeks left we’ll hopefully be able to get to the final one.
– Olea @ St.Regis Saadiyat Island – DONE!!
– Origins @ Yas Viceroy – DONE!!
– The Latest Recipe @ Le Meridien – DONE!!
– The Pavilion @ Emirates Palace (Hint Hint to Matt me thinks…)
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve found and Iftar gem in the city, as we’d love to get out and explore some more, so comment below and give me some insider tips 🙂 I really appreciate all of your comments.