Hidden Gems: The Art House Cafe, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi

We take a look around this establishment that has as much flair in its menu as it does in its interior design

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Old barrels and tyres fashioned into tables, wooden slats transformed into benches, vintage suitcases placed one atop the other, and coloured ceiling panels that let light through, reflecting a rainbow on the floor – this is what you'll find when you walk into Art House Cafe.

Tucked away behind Bateen Mall in a villa on Al Falah Street, the establishment adjoining Etihad Modern Gallery, is a kaleidoscope of colour, creativity and character.

The mighty horse sculptures at the entrance are the first indication that this is not your run-of-the-mill cafe, and with four separate dining spaces to choose from – indoor and outdoor – it's the kind of place that suits those looking for a quiet spot to work remotely, a quick stop for a business lunch, or a cosy place for the monthly book club gathering.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - The Art House Cafe interior has a relaxed ambience, designed with warm colours, and supports the concept of protecting nature on March 12, 2018. (Khushnum Bhandari/ The National)

Artworks adorn the walls, with both local and international artists given the opportunity to display their works for greater exposure.

“Art House Cafe began its journey four years ago with its premiere advocacy of promoting, recycling and showcasing works of art,” manager Wael Ibrahim tells me as I pull up a vintage velvet upholstered chair and peruse the newly printed menu. “Our guests have been coming back mainly because of our ‘art home’
ambiance, it’s an escape from the busyness of the city life.”

The food here has as much flair as the space itself, with the milkshakes and desserts (starting from Dh22) oozing with lava-like richness. The juices, particularly the Go Green and Energiser varieties, (Dh30 each) are as vibrant in colour as the glass ceiling panels.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - The new Oreo milkshake and Peach ice tea, at the Art House Cafe on March 12, 2018. (Khushnum Bhandari/ The National)

Whether you're looking for a breakfast, lunch, dinner or coffee spot, the Art House Cafe has plenty of choices. The breakfast menu extends from morning pastries (Dh15) to pancake stacks (Dh35) and truffled scrambled eggs (Dh35) to Shakshuka (Dh35). If it's a light lunch you're after, the beetroot and goat cheese (Dh46) and Da Vinci salads (Dh52) are substantial.

Ibrahim tells me that the sliders (Dh55) and Philly Steak wraps (Dh42) are also popular choices. Given my dietary restrictions, I opt for the Norwegian salmon fillet (left) with Japanese rice, grilled asparagus and Thai curry sauce (Dh65) – yum!

The coffee selection is vast and reasonably priced too (from Dh14), and those with kids will be delighted to hear that not only will they love the room to move around and the food (mac & cheese, mini burgers and nuggets are just Dh25), they might even get to display their creativity by painting on a plate. "Plates [that are] displayed on the walls of the entire cafe exterior were done by our guests. We aim to develop guests' interest in arts by exhibiting their own," adds Ibrahim.

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So, if you like to get out and find new places for coffee, simply want a change of scene or need some Instagram inspiration, the Art House Cafe is the ideal spot.

For those who have become regulars here over the past four years, we’ve got news for you. “Soon we will be opening new branches in Abu Dhabi,” Ibrahim says. Yes, you heard it here first, the Art House brand will be making its way across the capital in various forms soon, so stay tuned!

The Art House Cafe can be found next to Etihad Modern Art Gallery, Bateen Area, Villa No 4, 4 Al Falah Street, Abu Dhabi. Check out www.etihadmodernart.com