Fanr, Manarat Al Saadiyat for fresh flavorful food, glorious instagram-worthy interiors in the uber-chic art district in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
On most days we pick a cuisine depending on our moods or cravings and then pick a restaurant that does it well. Other days when you just can’t seem to agree you try and find something that will make everyone happy. I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit it took me this long to find Fanr – where we literally managed to find something for everyone!
Tucked away in the artsy corners of Manarat Al Saadiyat with galleries of international art collections from around the world, Fanr blends nicely with it surroundings. The interiors are bright and airy and feature stunning floor to ceiling windows with a great easy lunch vibe. In cooler months though, their al fresco dining in the courtyard, designed around a traditional Arabic Court is sure to be a big hit with a glass of wine in hand, after all it is a licensed venue.
You’ll rarely find salads on my blog (I swear I do eat them sometimes) but the gorgeous light that filled Fanr’s dining area begged me to photograph it – it was a great salad too. A simple raspberry vinaigrette that brought together smoked salmon, finely shaved green apples, fennel, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Its no surprise the mixed leaves used were crunchy and fresh – they had been freshly picked from Fanr’s own herb patch. Instant brownie points in my book just for that.
I am rarely impressed by batter-fried calamari (squids) as they are usually soggy, over-battered and ridiculously over-cooked. But Fanr’s version makes a good case for them all – well seasoned and cooked with the right batter-to-squid ratio and sprinkled with cracked pepper and sea salt served alongside cajun-spiced aioli and lemon.
Easily the star of our meal was the pan-seared Fish Sayadieh – a classic arabic rice dish cooked in a fish broth with spices and fried onions that give the rice its typical brown color with hints of cinnamon and cumin that flavor without overpowering. Finished off (like a quirky work of art might I add) with caramelised onions, sumac mixed leaves salad, pine nuts and a coriander sauce. Simple, fragrant and satisfying – that it is also gorgeous to look at is a bonus!
The spicy shrimp linguine is nothing like you’d expect – its Fanr’s take on a classic and one that deserves special mention. They’ve managed to add layers and textures to this dish that are hard to get any where else – finely shaved zucchini and peppers tossed along with perfectly al-dente linguine marrying nicely in a chilli-cream sauce with Parmesan, chunky prawns and fresh coriander that lends it that exotic-Asian twist. Don’t dismiss it till you try it purists, you’ll be surprised and how!
We got our carbs (pasta) with a side carbs (chunky cajun spiced fries) and some more carbs (pizza margherita), it was the weekend after all (I would totally understand if you judged us). Washed all of them down (and a little bit of that guilt) with our banana blueberry and peach-sweet melon smoothies. We’d driven down to Saadiyat so couldn’t really take advantage of the fact that the venue is licensed and we could have easily paired the food with wines.
Fanr has a whole menu of varied camel-meat delicacies but I’m not that adventurous. Camel milk, on the other hand, I’d been meaning to try for a while and the opportunity presented itself nicely. The camel milk bread pudding was deliciously warm and comforting – studded generously with dates, pistachios and almonds and topped with vanilla bean ice-cream. It is a generous portion for a decadent dessert, so I’d recommend you share.
We ended our lunch with a walk about in Fanr’s garden patch and were happy to know most of the herbs in our salads and mains and even the mint that garnished our dessert was picked from here. It is no mean feat to maintain in this harsh climate, and we were told there’d be more additions of cherry tomatoes and other veggies as the weather cools down. Fresh flavorful food, glorious instagram-worthy interiors and ordering cocktails outdoors – do we really need any more convincing to return?
Location: Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi