Capital's shisha set head to Chillax
ABU DHABI //Step out of the lift on to the mezzanine floor at Khalidiya Corniche Tower, and the first thing you will notice is the smell of shisha.
Follow the sweet smell and you will find Chillax. At this trendy spot, where the capital's coolest young people gather, the seating plan is designed for maximum comfort. Patrons can lounge on couches around flat screen TVs, or in armchairs in the private VIP section, which also boasts a PlayStation.
"It's my second home," says Waled Malas, a 19-year-old from Lebanon who lives in Abu Dhabi. "This place is really special."
But neither he nor his friend and compatriot, Asim Gafal, can put their finger on what makes it special. "I don't know what it is, it's just amazing," says Mr Gafal.
Jafar Jergis, the manager, believes it is the special food that keeps customers returning.
"Other places use canned food, here, everything is home made," he says. "It's like a second home for regular customers - they say this to me."
When the restaurant first opened in 2007, its menu was Italian. Two years later, the Moroccan chef changed it to include traditional Arabic meals.
"The mature customers like Arabic food," he says. "The younger ones all want Italian, not Arabic."
In May, the menu underwent another makeover with home-style recipes, including fish and chips and marshmallow cocoa, making an appearance.
Mr Jergis says customers are welcome to ask for particular meals.
"Whatever they like, we make."
This Ramadan, the menus are expected to change again - catering to the holy month with a wider selection of Arabic dishes, such as Saj.
"Saj is a Lebanese bread, a thin one. We put cheese, chocolate, zatar, meat, kofta - whatever the customer likes - on it," he says. "We make it a lot in Ramadan."
A meal for two with drinks costs in the region of Dh90. Mixed shishas cost Dh40.
Every day after work, Ghanim Faisal, a 30-year-old from Abu Dhabi, drops by. "Just like the name, you come here to eat, chill, and relax," he says. "The food is good, service is good, everything is good. We have been coming here since the place opened, we know everyone here."
Rami Aziz, a 24-year-old, sits alone smoking shisha on a neighbouring couch. "The shisha is amazing here," he says.
On the other side of the room, Anas Ramiz, a 23-year-old student from Syria, sits alone on a wooden table engraved with previous customers' memories.
"The music is loud, but I am used to it," he says. "I study in Dubai, but I live here ... I have been coming here for four years, I like that the manager is always here, and I always get served on time. I already have a set menu in my head, I do not need to look at their menus. I don't know why, but there is no place like this."
Where to find it:
Immediately after the National Bank of Abu Dhabi on the Corniche, turn left to reach Khalidiya Corniche Tower. You'll find Chillax on the 'M' Mezzanine floor. For more information, call 02 681 8005
Published: August 6, 2011 04:00 AM