Natasha Sideris is a culinary whizz on the Dubai foodscape.
The founder and chief executive of Tashas Group runs more than 20 restaurants and cafes — 15 in her native South Africa and eight in Dubai, including six tashas cafes, plus Avli by tashas, Flamingo Room by tashas and Galaxy Bar.
The capital’s first Flamingo Room, one of the group’s most popular restaurants, is set to open in Galleria Al Maryah Island in early 2023.
Today, Sideris chats to The National about what diners can expect and provides a first look at the new space.
You’ve been operating in the UAE for eight years. Why did you decide to open a restaurant in Abu Dhabi now?
Abu Dhabi has grown exponentially in the past few years. It is an energetic city with a cosmopolitan culture.
While it doesn’t currently have as many food and beverage options as Dubai, it has the potential to become a hub for diverse concepts.
There is opportunity for so much more, so I felt it was a perfect fit for Flamingo Room by tashas. This, coupled with finding an extraordinary location within a buzzing and glamorous neighbourhood, makes it the perfect time to open in Abu Dhabi.
What’s special about the location?
The Galleria on Al Maryah Island has a beautiful setting on the water. Given the extraordinary shape of the space, we are able to do some unique things with it.
For example, the outside terrace, will be used for art exhibitions. The outdoor dining area, called the Flamingo Room Terrace, will be coupled with a champagne bar.
There is also a space tucked away in the back of the main dining area, which we’ll convert into a secret bar.
Finally, the restaurant will incorporate our Collective Africa luxe retail concept, so guests have the opportunity to purchase beautiful objects sourced from all over the African continent.
What’s on the menu at Flamingo Room in Abu Dhabi?
The menu will be the same as the restaurant in Jumeirah Al Naseem, Dubai.
I have spent a lot of time refining the menu, which features classic dishes with a contemporary twist, such as calamari Mozambique, beef carpaccio, lobster pasta, and corn and burrata ravioli.
Any new items we create for variety will be added to both restaurants, yet without taking down the signature dishes.
Food aside, Flamingo Room is acclaimed for its luxe interiors. What will the Abu Dhabi outpost look like?
The interior will be similar to Dubai and, as always, I am working with incredible South African artisans to create bespoke elements for the space.
One addition is Bar Afrouge. Following the success of Galaxy Bar in DIFC, I want to create an exclusive space in Abu Dhabi, which provides an amazing ambience and world-class cocktails.
Do you have any other expansion plans?
I am opening Flamingo Room by tashas in Riyadh at the end of this year. The restaurant is located in Bujairi Terrace, an upscale neighbourhood in Diriyah, a historic and cultural spot.
The three-storey building has unbelievable views over the Wadi Hanifah. It’s inspired by indigenous Najd architecture, and will house four concepts: Flamingo Room by tashas, African Lounge, Stargaze Garden and Collective Africa.
Each experience has been designed to recall the delicate beauty of the African continent, whilst referencing the culture and hospitality this location in Saudi Arabia is known for.
The African Lounge will serve high tea during the day and small sharing plates in the evening, with a different menu from Flamingo Room. The Stargaze Garden will be available for events such as weddings and birthdays.