There are not that many great furniture shops in Abu Dhabi, let alone great lunch spots. However, the creators of THE One brilliantly combined the two concepts – shop for uber-cool furniture and enjoy a great lunch while you discuss the comfiness of the couch you just sat on, or whether that funky wall art would look good in your living room.
As one of the few food bloggers in Abu Dhabi, midEATS was invited earlier this week to the launch party of THE One’s new menu at their Abu Dhabi location. I took my colleague from NYUAD and my camera, and was ready to go! Unlike usual launch events, instead of sampling all of the items on the menu, we were allowed to order whatever we desired from the menu. This was both good and bad – good that we could try everything, bad because we were given WAY too much food! Nobody told me to wear my stretchy pants….next time.
You are probably wondering, how was the food? It was delicious! After speaking with the Restaurant Manager Barry for a good 20 minutes, we heard all about the great ingredients that are used, their sources for local food, as well as their use of grass-fed beef for their amazing burger. Strangely, none of these healthy and respectable features are mentioned on their menu! For example, THE One uses a German bakery in Dubai which sources flour from Germany and France for their lovely breads. Additionally, THE One produces onsite many of their mini loaves of bread, such as their beetroot and seed bread, and the strangely-textured-yet-delicious pumpkin ginger loaf. The combination of Middle Eastern flavors and ingredients was delicious. Again, these are not gluten-free, so I only had a nibble of each.
The menu also features a host of freshly pressed juice concoctions – the one that got my attention (and my tastebuds) was a kiwi, pear and broccoli juice. Yes, broccoli. But the nutrient-packed juice was delicious. The broccoli alone packs in high amounts of vitamin C and D, as well as many anti-cancer properties. I literally want to drink it every day – it was THAT good.
We then shifted to try some of the newly revamped Middle Eastern items on the menu. I soon realized that there were so many gluten-free options that I didn’t understand why they don’t just have a separate menu featuring what a great selection of GF items they have! To start, we had the sumac chicken salad, which featured chargrilled chicken sprinkled with sumac, toasted pine nuts, raisins, and arguably the best part, little bits of preserved lemon. The delicious tang of the preserved lemon, perfectly complemented the sweetness of the raisins and the crunch of the pinenuts.
We then moved onto the Moroccan harira soup. As many of our readers know, my recipe for harira soup has always been quite popular, particularly in Ramadan. I had never really made harira outside of Ramadan, so it was interesting to be ordering it in May, let alone when it is 106 degrees outside. The subtle heat combined with the sweetness of cranberry harrisa, savory notes of saffron, cinnamon, and possible nutmeg, all combined to make an amazing lentil soup with tiny bits of juicy lamb. I normally loathe lamb, but I honestly could not stop eating the soup. The cranberry in the soup was genius, and amazing! We also tried a carrot coriander soup. It was pretty tasty (needed a pinch more salt). A delicious, completely vegetarian choice. So far, SO good!
We moved on to the main courses, which, to be honest, were relatively anti-climatic, especially compared to the delicious salad and harira. We tried the saffron chicken, which was served with rosemary mashed potatoes. Although the ras-al-hanout caramelized onions were amazing, the chicken was pretty bland. You could taste a subtle hint of saffron. I expected so much, and was left a bit disappointed.
Although I am gluten-free, I did try a few bites of the Mediterranean vegetable tart. The tart was creatively made with bits of black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, squash and eggplant. The tart itself was delicious but only once you slathered the balsamic marinated caramelized onions all over it. The combination of the two was great. I plan on recreating my midEATS Caramelized Onion and Olive tart to be gluten free, in which I will definitely try adding balsamic to the onions. Also, next time I go to THE One, I am curious to try their gluten-free pastas. Barry indicated they are trying to source freshly made gluten free pasta – wouldn’t that be great!
There was a relatively small selection of desserts, none of which I was able to eat because of the presence of gluten. There was a vermicelli rice pudding that sounded amazing, as well as a delicious lemon almond cake. For a brief moment, we thought it was made only of almond flour (which apparently they toast and make fresh in-house) and I was ready to devour it. Then to my disappointment there is flour in there. Sigh. Maybe someone can convince them to add a flourless cake to their menu – that would be awesome.
Overall, I was happy to see the addition of so many Middle Eastern flavors to the menu. I only wish that they would highlight their amazing ingredients, as well as create a separate gluten free menu. Nonetheless, THE One will still continue to be on my list of favorite lunch spots!