Semi Permanent Middle East: NYC restaurant Flower Shop brings famed burger to Abu Dhabi

The restaurant has launched a pop-up at the arts and design festival until October 16

What does a Michelin-lauded burger taste like?

At The Flower Shop, it comes with a twist of unexpected flavours and extra preparation, and it goes down satisfyingly well.

The Flower Shop cheeseburger is on offer over the weekend at Semi Permanent Middle East, the arts and design festival taking place at Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Al Saadiyat until Saturday.

In addition to presentations and panel discussions featuring stars such as British-American DJ and producer Mark Ronson and US visual artist Daniel Ashram, the event is home to the New York City restaurant's pop-up.

The The Flower Shop was launched by Aussies Ronnie Flynn and Dylan Hales in 2017 in the city’s Lower East Side neighbourhood. Its mix of casual, funky decor and sophisticated comfort food has made it a Michelin favourite, being recommended by the Guide for three years running.

It has also become a low-key celebrity hot spot, hosting patrons such as retired England footballer David Beckham and Hollywood stars Sienna Miller and Justin Theroux.

What’s its secret? Part of it goes back to that burger bearing the restaurant’s name.

“The burger was a bit of an anchor because the guys at Michelin said it was 'surprising'," Flynn says.

“This is exactly what our venue is, which is this idea of being unassuming, but then once you taste the food, it's like, 'wow'.”

Hales credits executive chef Michael Hamilton’s knack for revitalising much-loved staples.

“It is taking something really simple, focusing on good ingredients and doing sort of little tricks,” he says. “So for our burger we use the best meat we can find, and for our sauce it is Japanese black garlic mixed with mayonnaise, and the pickles are all made in-house. Essentially this is what we do, in that we take comfort food and elevate it.”

The same can be said of The Flower Shop's other offerings available at Semi Permanent Middle East, including a hearty breakfast burrito, a hash-brown sandwich and various veggie dishes including crispy Brussels sprouts.

While Flynn and Hales are delighted by the reception their pop-up has received the festival’s opening day, these keen foodies are also here to explore Abu Dhabi’s culinary scene.

As burger fiends, they have already paid a visit to the much-loved Lento and intend to explore some of the city’s street food enclaves such as Khalidiya.

The experience will not only serve as inspiration for when they return to The Flower Shop proper in New York, but may even result in its first international branch in the UAE capital.

“We would very much like to do something where we can expand the business and bring it to a place like Abu Dhabi," Flynn says.

“But we want to be thoughtful about it. To do that we need to make something special here with the community and do it with a lot of care.”

The Flower Shop will be open throughout Semi Permanent Middle East, running until Saturday, at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Doors open at 9am. Tickets from Dh200 are available at semipermanent.com

Updated: October 15th 2021, 9:50 AM