Britain has a long love affair with cakes.
From regal connections like the Victoria sponge or the Battenberg, to the Duchess of Bedford’s ‘invention’ of afternoon tea or the nation’s fascination with The Great British Bake Off. And so, it’s somehow quite fitting that the first L’Eto Caffe opened it’s door in Blighty’s capital.
Professing cakes crafted with ‘great love and confectionary sorcery,’ the upscale café now boasts multiple branches, including its latest outpost in Abu Dhabi – and I’m intrigued to find out how eats from Soho fare in the capital.
L’Eto has really made the most of its location in The Galleria with giant windows giving diners a clear vantage of the impressive water feature, and further over the Arabian Gulf.
A few plush chairs set by a faux fireplace and surrounded by shelves peppered with books, ornaments, vases and plants make an inviting waiting area. Inside, white marble dining tables are decorated with pops of bright plants and cushions and, on our visit, every single table is occupied. There’s a really nice ambiance to the place – even the staff fit well with the hostesses in playful butterfly-print dresses and the smiling wait staff in crisp linens.
We start with drinks – my friend has coffee while I plump for hibiscus and rose iced tea. Impressively served in a retro glass bottle on a wooden board, it has a fruity floral flavour and is almost worth its AED 42 price tag.
The waiter explains that the dining concept is two-fold, so we decide to try both – my friend opting for the display counter selection while I go à la carte.
My friend’s hand selected coconut patties are served exactly how she’d hoped: savoury and crisp. They are seasoned with desiccated coconut and a yoghurt dressing, which ups the sophistication ante. Her side of pomegranate aubergine yoghurt involves perfectly grilled vegetables coated in thick Greek-style yoghurt flavoured effectively with pomegranate, dill, paprika and spring onion. The honey-roasted pumpkin with bulgur and crispy kale also gets a thumbs up.
My red shashouska comes piping hot in a kitsch copper plate where the handle is shaped like the Eiffel Tower. It’s a combination of eggs, red pepper and tomato salsa, sprinkled with parsley and served with Arabic bread. The eggs are perfectly poached while the salsa has just the right kick to it, and the bread is great for mopping up the sauce. It’s a winner if you’re after a good breakfast-for-dinner choice of meal.
And so to dessert. The lashings on offer are something of a spectacle and my friend and I spend no less than 15 minutes drooling as we decide. In the end, we opt for two of L’Eto’s signatures. First up, layered honey cake. Topped with a solitary raspberry, it’s simple but delicious – not too sweet with just the right ratio of honey to cream to butter to cake.
Next is the milk cake, which comes in a spectrum of flavours; I opt for the Nutella. Presentation isn’t this dish’s strong point – if you’ve seen the Friends episode where Rachael gets a birthday flan then you’ll know what I mean. Flavour-wise, it’s on point: sweet and deliciously creamy. My friend falls instantly in love with it and, while I’m a little less enthused by its rice-pudding-like consistency, I have to commend the flavour.
We’re fit to burst so request the remainder to go and love the cute ‘Count the memories not the calories’ printed bag we get to carry it home in. Vibrant and distinct yet reassuringly familiar, this place is Abu Dhabi’s newest sweet spot.
Need to know
Location: The Galleria, Al Maryah Island
We say: Exceedingly good
Cost: AED 350 for two
Opening times: Daily 9am-midnight
Contact: 02 441 3318, letocaffe.ae
WORDS Hayley Skirka