Before the five-star hotels, residential buildings and a world-class museum, Saadiyat Island was a quiet place inhabited by no more than a few fishermen.
And it wasn’t just people who used to call this stretch of land home. Living alongside the fishermen were Hawksbill turtles, which became synonymous with the island.
Paying homage to the now-endangered species is Turtle Bay Bar & Grill at Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas.
Design-wise, this spot embraces minimalist aesthetics accentuated by wooden interiors inspired by old sea vessels. The exterior, with its Arabic-inspired woven furniture and dark wood cabanas, offers poolside terrace seating as well as a rooftop bar and lounge with endless views of the tranquil beach and open ocean.
True to character, the restaurant’s menu features mostly seafood options and dishes come with a contemporary flair sure to appeal to a broad range of clientele. Options include raw ceviche and cold seafood platters as well as salads, grilled meats, side and potato dishes and a smattering of chocolate-, cream- and fruit-based desserts.
The yellowfin tuna ceviche is a glorious row of raw tuna topped with jalapeño. The firm fish is meaty with a hint of spice and saltiness from the jalapeños and yuzu-soy sauce, a combination of soy sauce and Japanese citrus fruit. It’s a wonderful way to start our meal and we polish it off in a flash.
Rich and flavourful, the Scottish salmon main course is pan-seared, giving it a delectable smoky taste without losing any of its tenderness. As a bonus, the skin of the fish is mildly crispy lending extra texture to each bite. Side dishes are extra, but the fish pairs well with my chosen potato side dish of sour cream mash.
For dessert, the dark chocolate and matcha green tea fondant is a soft treat that magnificently combines both the sweet and bitter elements.
Need to know
Location: Saadiyat Rotana, Saadiyat Island
We say: Tasty seafood selection in a laidback ambiance
Cost: AED 546 for two
Opening times: Daily 5pm-midnight
Contact: 02 697 0000, rotana.com
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez