Flamingo Collection Abu Dhabi review: Grandma chic and 10/10 dishes

Made-for-Instagram interiors meet retro recipes – and don’t miss the lemon tart

Flamingo Room by tashas is one of three venues at the group's newest addition in the UAE capital. Photo: Flamingo Collection
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After more than six years, Abu Dhabi has a new arrival from Tashas Group.

And, just like buses, you wait around for ages only for three to come along at once with a trio of venues in The Galleria Al Maryah Island, each providing a different slice of the company’s ever-growing repertoire.

African Lounge captures cafe culture on its breezy waterfront-facing terrace; Flamingo Room by tashas offers fine dining in made-for-Instagram interiors; and edgy bar Perlage serves drinks into the early hours.

Tashas Group was founded by Natasha Sideris almost 20 years ago with an ethos based on the use of three main ingredients to build a successful restaurant: quality food, service and interiors.

So I book in keen to see if its latest has mastered the recipe and can pull in a throng of diners to rival its sister site tashas in Al Bateen, which opened in 2017 and remains one of the brand’s busiest outposts.

Where to sit and what to expect

The group’s ethos doesn’t change. And with about two dozen venues spanning three continents, it’s clearly working.

In 2005, the first Tashas cafe opened in South Africa with a bang and it arrived in the UAE almost a decade later. If you don’t know the name, you’ll know the look as its elaborate aesthetics dominate feeds and channels across social media.

Flamingo Room is like stepping into a life-sized version of a Pinterest board titled “Chic grandma’s dream African safari”. It’s all Victorian-style statement wallpapers, coral hues, zebra patterns, boxy brass furniture frames, funky meerkat statues, contemporary ceiling lights and glistening fish scale-style wall tiles.

At the entrance, where you can buy kitsch accessories to replicate the brand’s style at home, African Lounge spills out on to a first-floor terrace. It’s a relaxed space brimming with cosy cushions and sweeping views across Al Maryah promenade and mainland Abu Dhabi.

Perlage – accessible via the main restaurant or Rosewood Abu Dhabi – is an elegantly low-lit bar that seats 50 guests elbow to elbow.

So far, so good and it earns a big stylish tick for its stunning interiors.

The menu

From the elegant wraparound covers to the delicate watercolours of animals on the drinks list, the menus are works of art that wouldn't look out of place hanging on the walls.

In keeping with its sister site in Jumeirah Al Naseem, Dubai, Flamingo Room offers a decidedly upmarket menu.

Starters make ideal pickings for anyone who loves raw food and shellfish, like yours truly; however, diners who don’t may have to skip straight to mains. They’re awash with tartare, ceviche and gravadlax (pretty much all the same things, really), as well as prawns, scallops, squid, crab and caviar. Even the rare veggie dish is a carpaccio of butternut.

Aside from a range of salads and pasta recipes, the main courses are split into two categories: ones to share and ones to not. Plates include peri-peri chicken (undoubtedly a nod to Sideris’s South African roots), lamb, short rib, beef fillet, salmon Wellington and a posh Sunday roast.

Prices are not cheap though, with starters ranging from Dh86 ($23) to Dh980 ($266) and mains from Dh134 to a whopping Dh1,340 for the seafood platter. With that in mind, the business lunch looks particularly thrifty value at Dh135 for two courses.

It’s a bit of a hodgepodge of contemporary recipes and classics. Alongside burgers and beetroot quinoa salads, there are fish and chips and calamari. There’s a vol-au-vent, something I haven’t seen since a wedding spread in 2005, and both the steak Diane and baked Alaska are a surprising throwback to the 1960s. It is grandma chic, after all.

Thankfully, you get what you pay for and, just like music buffs and the increasingly popular vinyl revival, chefs are dragging the retro recipes into 2024.

The sea bass ceviche starter is meticulously presented and tastes even better. There’s a smack of citrus from lemon, lime and ponzu with a touch of heat from ginger and a dose of decadence with salmon roe on top. The beetroot and quinoa salad, meanwhile, is a wild journey of saltiness, pickling, crunch and sourness.

The kitchen’s focus on good, solid cooking is highlighted further by the fillet of sea bass – crispy skin, al dente samphire and a drizzle of olive oil; and the excellent bouillabaisse, which is sort of a deconstructed version of the classic French stew. Pieces of red snapper, scallops, king crab and lobster sit in a bowl before the server adds the broth tableside. And boy, what a broth. The reduction is properly dark. It’s a deep rusty orange with pungent saffron and prawn heads that beams me to a Mediterranean port. It’s 10/10 stuff.

There’s just enough room for a lemon meringue tart (one plate, two spoons), before putting a big fat tick next to “quality food”. And that’s before I’ve even mentioned the impeccable service. Tick.

Stand-out dish

Credit for this faultless recommendation goes to our server and the pastry chef at the peak of their powers. The tart is exceptional. The not-too-sweet curd is topped with slightly torched French meringue. It sits on crumbly pastry that's so dark with molasses it's almost treacly.

In fact, it's so good that my wife (a staunch “just one teeny spoonful” dessert eater) scoffs the lot before I have a chance to tuck in.

She says it's just like me. “What, sharp, bitter and not for sharing?” I ask. Pretty much, she nods, suggesting we ask for one spoon, two desserts next time.

We’re not even out of January and they're undoubtedly some of the best mouthfuls I’ll lose to her this year. Or so I'm told.

Price point and contact information

Starters range from Dh86 to Dh980; salads and pasta from Dh82 to Dh260; mains from Dh134 to Dh1,340; and desserts from Dh28 to Dh92.

Flamingo Room by tashas is open daily, noon-4pm and 7pm-1am. African Lounge, noon-11.45 pm from Monday to Thursday, noon-12.45am from Friday to Sunday. Perlage is open daily from 8pm-3am, except Mondays. Reservations can be made by calling 02 675 9301.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: January 26, 2024, 6:25 AM