Have you ever been to the Mercure hotel, smack in the center of Abu Dhabi? I would guess the answer is no, unless you are one of the few very smart locals that have discovered the quaint French restaurant, Le Beaujolais. On a past Sunday afternoon, the place was packed with office workers, families, friends and lucky tourists. I was there specifically to try their special menu, which will be around only until the 29th of April. Cheese and Wine is the theme (can't get a much better theme). Which means that every dish on the menu is a variation focused on cheese and/or wine. If you are a cheese lover, this should be your home for the next week.
The special menu consists of soups, hot and cold appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. You can choose just one, or order a complete meal. As soon as you place your order, the wait staff brings over a basket of warm crusty baguette. Probably some of the best baguette in Abu Dhabi. And did I mention the salted butter? Yea.
I started with the Carrot Veloute. It is a rich and creamy carrot soup with large chunks of goat cheese slowly melting away into ever more creamy bliss. Perfect match for that crusty baguette. One of my favorite dishes was one of the hot appetizers, the Flamiche au Maroilles. Maroilles is a fairly strong cheese, especially for a cows milk cheese, (i.e flavorful for us cheese lovers), but the tart is fluffy and light in texture on a thin savory pasty crust. The accompanying side salad does not look like anything impressive but was was extremely crispy and fresh, with just a light vinaigrette.
The mains are plentiful from seafood to pasta and even some with Pork (namely bacon)! I went for the Grilled Hammour with a mushroom sauce, which had a great char to it, and the Roquefort Celery Mousse was so thick it felt like mash potatoes. Very homey and satisfying.
As you sit and digest, you can do as the French do. Refill your wine and try the cheese plate which can easily serve three people. The wait staff will make sure that you have plenty of warm bread to go along with it.
Finally, my arm was twisted to try dessert (i.e. I had been waiting for this moment). I chose one of their staples, which is available all year long, the famous Tarte Tatin. It was authentically stacked with large chunks of caramelized apples, plenty of butter, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Le Beaujolais is one of Abu Dhabi's few tried and true relics from the early days whose popularity is everlasting with its well prepared French dishes offered at a very reasonable price. They haven't bothered (or needed to) change much of their atmosphere in the past years...i.e there is unfortunately even still a large smoking "section" (which is virtually impossible in an intimate restaurant), but they have changed their menu. The food is continually worthy of a visit. And hey, I do love the red tablecloths too. I also have to give accolades to the service. At the busy lunch rush, there were only two friendly waitresses and they managed to easily keep their calm and happy customers.
I am already looking forward to their next special menu "Normandy" which will be rolling through starting in mid May. Don't worry. I will keep you posted.
The Mercure Hotel
02 633 3555
(Be sure to make a reservation)