OAK ROOM REVIEW - DXB FOOD DIARIES


There’s a special place in my heart for Tom Aikens, who’s the first celebrity chef I met in my early food blogging days. He’s widely celebrated as the youngest British chef to gain two Michelin stars and has even met my mum!

 So the fact that Tom is behind three signature restaurants at the new Abu Dhabi EDITION hotel is reason enough for me to travel to the capital.

Oak Room is a steakhouse and has a definitive steakhouse feel with wood-panelled walls, brown leather chairs, rich velvet curtains, and banquette seating in deep hunter green. Glorious red marbled meat takes pride of place in a display front and centre of the main dining room.

Tom’s pretty rock 'n’ roll himself, famously known for once branding a former colleague with a hot knife and occasionally seen sporting a white suit, so it’s no surprise that Oak Room has a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Large framed photographs of British musicians grace the walls (think Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Lou Reed circa 1973) and the music is an eclectic collection of classics that’ll have you tapping your feet.

Tom’s also known for his culinary prowess and his British influence is reflected throughout the menu – from the moreish Marmite butter served with crusty bread made from his very own sourdough starter to the decidedly British complement of desserts.

The hotel has a commendable sustainability philosophy, banning single-use plastics and encouraging practices that minimise food waste. Therefore, Oak Room chefs develop ingenious and appetising amuse-bouches and pre-desserts daily (like oyster ice cream or coconut wasabi mousse) using ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.

My favourite starter is the Seared Hand-Dived Scallops which pairs delicate scallops with piccalilli (a traditional British condiment) and a curry foam. Pungent and tangy with a sweet-and-sour hit from the plump soaked raisins, piccalilli and pickled cauliflower and carrots, it works surprisingly well. By contrast, the English Crab is a blander affair with basil mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and yoghurt. The Kale and Cashew Salad is a curious amalgamation of superfoods with both fresh and dehydrated kale, sprouted grains, apple, broccoli, mushroom, dates and nori, that makes me wonder if they’re taking their zero-waste goal a bit too far.

The steaks at Oak Room are top-notch, tender and cooked just right. They’re listed on the menu by weight and name of producer rather than country of provenance so we select the Black Onyx Tenderloin and USDA Prime Tenderloin. Eaten side by side, I can tell the subtle difference in taste, and while both are delicious, I find that I prefer the American steak to the Australian on this occasion. We also order the Butternut Squash Curry for contrast which is scented with whole coriander seeds, dried coconut, mango, raisins, chili and served with black rice.

For desserts, Tom’s got all the British favourites covered – Eton Mess, Spotted Dick, Sticky Toffee Pudding… We finish with an Apple and Blackberry Crumble and it’s totally the icing on the steak.



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