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Sayad Restaurant
Sayad Logo
Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
5 Stars and 5 Stripes
October 1st - 2006
5 Stars & 5 Stripes
Cuisine & Service
The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes®
As I approach the Sayad Restaurant for my pre-arranged dinner reservation, I begin to notice a serene change filter through me in the form of a sort of "rapture of the deep". My feet follow a turquoise path conjuring up a curious feeling of strength with a dose of remarkable anticipation. The figures on the rug give me the first hint of fluid motion as images of dolphins moving through cerulean waves capture my imagination. The mood is further set as indirect lighting sheds curtains of abyss-blue color, deepening my earlier sensations of amusement and mystique. I remind myself that I am still at sea level; or am I? I prepare for the unexpected as I unconsciously take a deep breath and enter this aqueous zone.
"It's all about water" I remark to Arno our photographer, as we descend into a Persian Gulf version of Neptune's world. We stroll past large aquariums filled with animated characters seemingly out of some kind of Disneyesque feature film. Another tank is filled with live crustaceans just waiting to be arranged in some artistic fashion on the dinner plates of this evening's bill of fare. "Even the flowers are floating in water" remarked Arno after noticing the unique floral arrangements strategically accentuating the Spartan furniture. All along I'm wondering if we'll somehow meet the mermaid that runs this operation.
"Good evening" came a soothing female voice from somewhere above the waves. "My name is Belinda and I would like to show you to your table" she continues. We fall into line behind Belinda as she takes us past an interesting display of some very distinctive bottles of wine made to look like they are floating underwater. Next, we pass a mound of ice topped with several tins of Iranian Caviar producing a certain eagerness to reach our table and a chance for us to sample this bounty from the Black Sea.
Sayad Restaurant
Please take a closer look
As we reach our table I get the strong urge to 'come up for air' after our spin through Sayad Restaurant. Belinda hands us our menus and points out the panorama directly out the nearby window. I immediately begin to understand how the views of the gorgeous Gulf coastline and the beach can induce a longing for the freshest caught seafood professionally prepared by Sayad's culinary team. We are informed that Chef de Cuisine Shane O'Nell has instructed his team to 'make every effort to impress'. Our confidence is that Chef O'Nell's stated philosophy of ". . . bringing my passion on food from Europe to Abu Dhabi treating all diners to a magical experience . . . " will come to fruition.
To start with, we are presented with a 'Greetings from the Kitchen' of Iranian Caviar along with all the accoutrements that go with it in as sort of mini-buffet of delicacies. We can only use a 'mother of pearl' spoon with which to scoop up the fine grey colored roe. It is essential to use a non-metallic spoon when serving caviar, as it will prevent the roe from acquiring a metallic taste. We notice the sublime nutty taste with which to enjoy a fluted glass of Dom Perignon Vintage 1998, a seductive wine laced with elegance and grace. It appears pale yellow in the tall glass with a floral bouquet leaving trails of soft spice and nutty nuances thereby making it the perfect caviar wine. We relish our welcoming course and continue to sip the golden mousse while noticing servers with white gloves pulling chairs and catering to many business-type guests from all over the world.
Sayad Cuisine Our next course arrives it is Timbale of Citrus flavored Salmon Tatar, Beluga Caviar with Saffron Dressing. The delicate flavor and texture of the salmon seems to be supported by the addition of citrus contrasting with the slightly salty black caviar in a gorgeous assemblage of colors and textures. We now have a chat with Sommelier Ajwad Ponismail about the difficulty that the local import regulations impose on the ability to accumulate an extensive wine assortment.
Right now, it appears that the Emirates Palace is in a mode of carefully building up the wine inventory little by little into a formidable collection. Meanwhile we were expecting the next course of Risotto of Maine Lobster and Scottish Langoustines with Soft Herbs to be paired with an Australian Andraos Bros Olde Winilba Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc. It was clear from the start that this was an exceptional partnership in that the wine offered two delightfully well-suited varietals that complimented each other and offered tropical fruit and citrus to support the shellfish duo.
Our server Anil returned to clear the 'Robert Welch' silverware to prepare us for the main course of Sautéed Sea Scallops with Bloody Mary Sorbet for me and New Zealand Red Snapper with Prawn Gnocchi, finished with Fennel Barigoule for Arno. Overall, both presentations proved to be visually original in design and color presentation. The scallops developed a delicious caramelized surface from being pan-seared quickly thus browning the large meaty ovals. Sayad Cuisine
“Overall, both presentations proved to be visually original in design and color presentation.” ~ TB
The supporting rendition of a Bloody Mary had all the trappings of the spicy mixture used in the famous cocktail but was presented as a shaved ice sorbet forcing me to reflect on whether or not I had ever experienced it before. I had not! All that was missing was the vodka. Our take on the New Zealand red snapper forced us to reconsider the meaning of seafood presentation. Chef O'Nell's method of pan-searing the filet skin down first before baking to finish it off, provided for a crispy skin followed by the soft juicy inner core of the delicate white flesh. All the while, the entire dish was presented with all the vegetables surrounding the filet with mini-carrot tops in a sort of 'Stonehenge-like' arrangement. A bottle of Laroche Chardonnay 2005 that comes from a family that has been making wines in Burgundy since the 1850's was the obvious choice. This Chablis style wine produced a golden luminescence when held up to the light, which fades to crystalline silver but displays good concentration. It has a nose of white flowers, apples and dried fruits with a fresh vivacity that lingers after aeration. The honey-like texture works to hold the same fruit nuances on the palate so that it compliments the seafood extremely well.
By this time, we have seen the type of work that Chef de Cuisine Shane O'Nell and his talented team can do and we are impressed. It is now the occasion for Executive Chef de Patisserie Pascal Clair to give us a sense of what he is all about. He offers us his notable rendition of Jivara Chocolate Parfait with Berry Crumbles and Ginger Ice Cream with a wine pairing of Robert Weil Kiedrich Graffenberg Auslese from the Rheingau, Germany.
Sayad Cuisine It is a stroke of brilliance that Pastry Chef Pascal Clair uses the unique Jivara chocolate for his masterpiece. Unlike most milk chocolate, it will linger on your palate longer as it melts, and you notice hints of caramel and vanilla laced with a touch of malt. This chocolate is made with a special estate blend of cocoa beans from South America and the results is a distinctive flavor rich in cocoa but not overly sweet.
Chef Clair uses the chocolate to sculpt his creation into three diverse sections each with its own personality and flavor profile. The auslese from Robert Weil offered clean, very ripe botrytis defining it as balanced with a concentration of sweetness as if it were on the verge of becoming a spätlese.
We decide to retire now into a cappuccino "Emirates Palace" style with real 14-carat gold flakes sprinkled on top instead of the traditional cinnamon. I felt like I should try to skim off the flakes and take them home with me but calmer heads prevailed. At that very moment, as if as an encore there is a flurry of activity and out of the kitchen comes our server with another of Chef Clair's carefully constructed art pieces. This one is referred to as the White Chocolate Wave with Petit Fors and Apple Gelee that looks almost too good to eat. We enjoyed immensely all that was presented to us tonight at the Sayad Restaurant and decided to take a stroll into the neighboring Cigar Bar for an aromatic Cuban and a Remy Martin XO. What a way to end an evening! "Leila Sa'eeda" Good night in Arabic!
Sayad Restaurant - Seven Stars and Stripes - Award-Hand-Out
A dinner of the kind we’d just experienced demands a good old cognac and a cigar afterwards. We choose the Havana Club reminding us on traditional gentlemen clubs from by-gone eras; darker colors, cozy woods and soft leathers. The Havana Club boasts a selection of the world's finest spirits and most certainly cognacs and cigars. These were very well chosen selections with the discerning connoisseurs in mind.
by Thorsten Buehrmann & Arno Goudschaal

Editor: Ingrid Lemme

Editor-in-Chief: John Lomitola
© 2006 ~ Seven Stars and Stripes, Inc.

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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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