Who knew that you can attend Opera in Abu Dhabi?? AND the best part is that this Opera won't force you into in a dark seat in the middle of a large auditorium. Instead this is A Night at the Opera at the chic but whimsical Circo at the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi. Circo is actually owned by the Italian restaurateurs behind the historically famous Le Cirque in New York (The Maccioni Group), and the theme is based on the European circus tent, with vibrant colors and a relaxed, fun feel. Circo usually serves Tuscan centered fare, with an occasional feature on other areas of Italy. For this special event, guests dine on a 5 course set menu, while the Vox Livens (All Soprano) Opera Ensemble struts amongst the tables, belting out beautiful, and perhaps familiar, Opera.
I was a little concerned that the event might be more formal that I would have preferred, but I was completely wrong. Like many great restaurants in Abu Dhabi, there was a variety of patrons from tourists to local Emiratis. You need not dig out that black tie dress (or tux), and there is more than enough time to chat with you fellow diners in between the entertainment. The singers are also very light-hearted and interactive, all of which makes the whole event very jovial, fun, and a great way to unwind at the end of the day.
The menu changes for each event, which means that it is a slightly different experience each time. On this past night, it was a bold seafood menu, showing that Chef Matteo is not afraid to take a stand with his sophisticated crowd. However, the kitchen team is super friendly and is very willing to make adjustments to the set menu to fit all tastes and needs. The meal started with a delicate tuna and avocado chopped tartar, followed by a black, squid ink risotto. (I was also able to sneak in a taste of the special mushroom and truffle risotto, topped with a creamy quail egg.) The portions were nicely sized, but we still somehow managed to finish all of the fluffy house-made bread and salted butter.
After a brief lemon sorbet palette cleanser, we were served a tenderly seared branzino with a scattering of roasted veg. And the meal was just light enough so that we could still fit in that rich, lemony tart (or the modern spherical Tiramisu) at the end of the night. Also, the meal was paired with wines at each course, which is not the norm for Abu Dhabi, even at some of the best places. Being a seafood menu, they decided to serve all Italian whites, from Prosecco to Pinot Grigio. Even the dessert course was paired with a cool crisp Muscat from Piedmont Region.
A Night at the Opera is great entertainment for an evening out and lots of fun with a group. The meal was on par, being elegant but still interesting, and the atmosphere was lively and bright. It is events like these that allow chefs some creativity while leaving the diners with a little something different to remember at the end of the night.
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi
971 2 666 6888
Check the website or call for their next special event (Either Opera Night or another surprise...)