Mar 9, 2013

Turquoiz and ALL it's Seafood Glory!

Back at the St. Regis Hotel, Saadiyat Island for yet another feast, only this time Seafood is on the menu.  This hotel's famed restaurant Turquoiz had developed a good reputation in a short period of time through some friends and colleagues, but I needed to taste it for myself to really understand the extent of their offerings.  Our friendly and accommodating waiter, Bobo, was enthusiastic about assisting us with all aspects of our meal.  Upon seating, we were presented with the fresh fish selection of the day scribbled onto this retro chalk board.  With eclectic menu items like Skate wing, Mullet, and Bream they seemed to know a thing or two about these ocean delicacies.
After some serious contemplation and meal strategy, we made our choices so we could maximize on our experience and really understand the scope, Turquoiz at St. Regis Saadiyat offers. We had to take advantage of at least one of the fresh fish choices and opted for the Faskar pictured below.  Not only is Faskar a delicious light white fish, but it is one of the seven local fish that the Choose Wisely campaign said could be eaten without restrictions.

We started our meal with an order of the house specialty soups, which came highly recommended by our waiter.  Being a New England native,  once he mentioned New England Clam Chowder on the menu, it was a must!  Not as creamy as the original, this soup was chock full of clams, potatoes, corn, and garlic croutons.  The potatoes were not cooked consistently, and overall this one could have done with a touch more seasoning as well as extra cream. The presentation was gorgeous, but perhaps focusing more on flavor development could do a little more justice to my hometown classic. 
Second to the Clam Chowder was the Bouillabaisse a traditional seafood stew originating from Marseille served with a rouille, a mayonnaise like sauce consisting of olive oil with bread crumbs, garlic, saffron, and chili peppers. The medley of clams, mussels, calamari, prawns, and mullet was a gorgeous display of some of the finest fruits of the ocean. This was another interesting approach to classic Provencal cuisine with a Turquoiz twist.  I rather enjoyed the table side pour, I just wish the soup itself could have been a little hotter. By the time the presentation was complete, and I started to tuck into the dish, the temperature was more on the tepid side, and compromised the potential of the taste. However the flavors in this were spot on, and the mixture of the rouille with the soup were soft and buttery. 
Our second course consisted of two raw fish options.  The more colorful of the two were the beet root cured salmon carpaccio with mustard sour cream and a beet root reduction.  If you are fond of raw fish like myself, then you will always be intrigued by an interesting  presentation of this type of seafood. Beet root cured salmon was a first for me, and the naturally sweet vegetable melded nicely with the fatty undertones of the salmon.  Paired with the mustard sour cream, I was reminded of Borscht, a Ukranian/Eastern European soup made of Beetroots and finished with sour cream served hot or cold.   
The squid ink tuna tartar was also an eye catching item.  Squid ink is one of those unusual ingredients that can make or break a dining experience.  I have had it in Risotto's, baked in bread, cooked into pasta, and now as an accompaniment to a tartar.  Normally, when cooked, the taste is so subtle, unless you noticed the color of your food, you might not have even known it was there.  Sprinkled on top of the tuna here was the most intense form of squid ink I have ever tasted.  Salty, briny, and fishy, it packed a lot of flavor, somewhat of an acquired taste,  it didn't really do it for me, but I am glad I got to try something so out of the ordinary.
Onto the mains, the grilled Faskar with couscous and lemon butter sauce really hit the spot.  Lightly dusted with sumac, then  grilled perfectly, the soft white fish just seemed to melt in my mouth.  It didn't actually need any additional sauce, as the natural taste of the fish paired with just the right amount of seasoning, on it's own was satisfying.  I'm also happy to report Turquoiz is serving several sustainable fish options, and has made a conscious effort to communicate that to it's guests.
We also ordered one regular menu item, the pan fried Halibut with crab cannelloni.  The flavors on this plate were familiar and comforting, but did not make as much of an impact as the Faskar did.  I enjoyed the fresh tomato crudo, which complimented the natural sweetness of this very popular delicately mild fish.  The generous portion of the fillet was cooked well, and flaked with the touch of my fork. The overcooked cannelloni however, appeared as an afterthought on the plate and could have been omitted. Nonetheless, it did add a decadent factor to the description, but needs a little more work on the fine execution. 
Chocolate Texture is what this dessert is called, and as you can clearly see, it's appropriately named, as there is a lot going on.  The three large scoops range from an espresso ice cream, to a vanilla mousse, and lastly a chocolate ganache all sitting on top of chocolate crumble and garnished with caramel/chocolate tuile.  With every bite there was a full on flavor explosion and finished with the slightest crunch, you have everything you could want in a dessert.  Made with the finest quality Valrhona chocolates, you could call this heaven on a plate.
The Turquoiz restaurant experience was second to none.  The gracious staff, extensive menu options, and gorgeous ambiance made this a worth while trip.  I am thrilled that the dining scene in Abu Dhabi is growing, and with more and more choices it makes taking a little weekend away from Dubai ideal.  The St. Regis Saadiyat should go on top of that list as well as their phenomenal food options.  For more information on the St.. Regis and Turquoiz restaurant please check out the following: