Considering the island setting, I’m always surprised that there aren’t more beachside restaurants in Abu Dhabi to take advantage of the scenery.
But on neighbouring Saadiyat Island, it’s all about making the most of the views and beachside breeze.
The latest spot to take advantage of its position is Tean, located in the new Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. Having watched the property being built over the years, I’m excited to take a peak inside and check out the dining options.
In keeping with its exterior, the hotel’s décor is stark, crisp, bright, spacious and modern. At the back of the hotel next to the pool is where Tean sits, serving Levantine-inspired cuisine with a modern touch.
On a windy night, the nearby crashing waves make for a perfect soundtrack to dinner, even from the indoor dining room, where woven cotton chairs and oak and marble tables sit comfortably among stone walls and pillars, an oak-panelled ceiling and floor and rattan-style lampshades. It’s all elegant and clean, and though there’s no hint of Arabic influence in the design, it’s certainly in keeping with the setting.
The Arabic influence materialises in Tean’s menu, where Turkish pide and Lebanese mezze sit alongside Emirati specialities such as thareed dajaj, mixed grills and traditional Arabic desserts such as halawat el jebn and kunafa.
The dishes may sound authentically Arabic, but where Tean stands out is in its modern take on the dishes, addition of non-traditional ingredients and presentation.
Far from the creamy dip I was expecting, the shaved beetroot moutabal is like a deconstructed version of the mezze dish. Thin discs of roasted beetroot are topped with pomegranate seeds, fresh figs and a drizzle of sweet pomegranate molasses. It’s slightly sweet, light and fresh – a great cold starter or light salad. Equally as refreshing is the watermelon salad, served with slices of fresh fig and orange, rocket leaves and a zingy, sweet vinaigrette.
A much more modern take on a typically greasy dish, the jawaneh djaj comprises corn-fed chicken wings marinated in garlic and coriander. The meat is tender and juicy, though could do with a more crispy skin.
The spinach pide, a traditional Turkish flatbread with various toppings, is served on a large rustic wooden board. Stuffed with a hot mixture of spinach, onion and pomegranate seeds with a sprinkling of sumac, it’s full of flavour and comforting on a chilly night.
Another Turkish dish, the homemade manti is the perfect example of what Tean does well: a traditional dish with a modern facelift. Served on a clean white plate, 12 ravioli-style dumplings with an al dente lamb filling sit in a light, silky yoghurt sauce garnished with crunchy pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and edible flowers.
But the contemporary spin doesn’t quite work for everything. The walnut and cinnamon baklava is far from the real thing: A ball of fig ice cream sits delicately between two thin squares of filo pastry with a meagre sprinkling of caramelised walnuts and pomegranate seeds. While the flavours work well, it’s a bit too deconstructed for our liking.
With a refreshing take on traditional Arabic dishes, smooth service and a stunning setting to boot, Tean is a great new addition to the Saadiyat Island dining scene.
Need to know
Location: Tean, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
We say: Arabian-inspired cuisine in a stunning setting
Cost: AED 315 for two
Opening times: Sat-Wed noon-11pm, Thu-Fri noon-midnight
Contact: 02 811 4444, email@example.com
WORDS Rachael Perrett