You are probably thinking that "ehhh...I am not really into French food... " Well let me stop you there.
Brasserie Flo in Abu Dhabi is not just French food.... it is thoughtfully crafted French food with Chef Sebatien at the helm. Chef is not your stereotypical idea of a French chef. His jovial personality and his passion for his customers are what makes 80% of the restaurant's clients regulars. He has traveled the world cooking and learning about food, having spent 14 years in California's Bay Area. There he worked in the Financial District of San Francisco and the kitchen of the famed Chez Panisse, before deciding to open his own French eatery in the very competitive Gourmet Ghetto of Berkeley. He eventually left the business to his partner when he headed for Spain with his family. After a few years of onward and upward, he landed here at the reigns of Brasserie Flo. And lets just say that Abu Dhabi is very lucky to have him.
Brasserie Flo can seem a little intimidating from the outside. As you peek in the window, you see diners at white table cloths with wine glasses....maybe too fancy or too perfect you think. But if you just walk around the front, you will see the many outdoor casual cafe tables and the smiling hostess. The atmosphere on the inside is more formal, but truthfully Brasserie Flo wants to welcome everyone that wants to try French food, and they want you to enjoy it. I was actually amazed at how many young couples were dining there. AND they have a very very affordable Aperitif section of the menu, where some of the best classic aperitifs average 25-35 AED ($7-$10)!
We started with three Entrees (the French word for appetizer). We ordered the Scallops, the Goat Cheese Pastilla, and the Lobster Ravioli. The Scallops were seared perfectly, and the accompanying asparagus still had a nice crunch. The lemon cream (with hollandaise) is so fluffy, you might find yourself spreading it onto a piece of lovely chewy baguette. The Pastilla is a buttery pastry parcel filled with creamy warm goat cheese. So slightly sweet, creamy and satisfying that I could have eaten it for dessert. The Lobster Ravioli is a large handmade raviolo served poaching in a thick decadent lobster bisque. Go ahead. Lick the bowl. Chef will be happy that you enjoyed it so much.
There is lots of variety among the main dishes. Everything from the classic Duck Confit and Beef Wellington to more modern preparations of grilled fish and Steak Frites. The Boeuf Borguignon stole the show for me. The tender meat falling apart among the roasted vegetables and the rich sauce, sitting on top of buttery mash potatoes. On the lighter side, the Sole Meuniere was a great rendition of the dish, which is de-boned table-side as it is served to you. The side of crispy hasselback potatoes, dipped in a little of that buttery Meuniere sauce....need I really tell you I ate every last bite?
Ok, but we all know that the French certainly know their desserts, so you absolutely must save space. There is a fairly extensive dessert offering with everything from ice cream and chocolate, to berries and macarons. From modern to classic and everything in between. The Chocolate Lava Cake is finally something different than the dessert that seems to be repeated in every restaurant in Abu Dhabi. This version is a large thick vanilla cake-like cookie. The center is molten chocolate, topped with a slightly tart creme fraiche ice cream. The Creme Brulee is classic and perfect, enough said. The macarons were the best I have had in years, and actually rescued me from my growing aversion. They were moist, chewy, and not overly sweet. You could clearly taste all of the distinct flavors, raspberry-vanilla, caramel, coconut, passion fruit...
So my only parting words are don't be intimidated by French food, because you can't miss out on Brasserie Flo. French food can actually be very simple and many of the regular customers come on weeknights for the simple fresh Seafood Platters, a little fresh baguette, and a glass of wine. Go big or go simple, but just go.
Venetian Village, Abu Dhabi
Open 12.30pm until 11pm. Seven days a week.
02 404 1931