No.57 café – worth the wait?

No.57 Cafe - Abu DhabiThere has been much hype and excitement surrounding the long, hotly anticipated opening of No.57 café here in Abu Dhabi. As an avid Instagram follower of its sister The Dinner Club 57, an invitation-only pop-up restaurant created by Emirati friends Alamira Noor Bani Hashim and Buthaina Al Mazrui, I have been waiting with bated breath for the opening.

Despite it being a café, I expected it would be very busy on a Friday morning so I made a reservation. My initial experience with the telephone etiquette left much to be desired. After they struggled to take down my reservation, I decided to call a few days later to confirm that they had my booking, only to be greeted in the same vague manner as my initial call.

Located in Al Marasy, at the Bateen Harbour of Abu Dhabi, it is quite a maze to get too. Google maps will help you though. We were greeted by a hostess who did indeed have our reservation and we were shown to our table. The interior, as you can expect, if you have been a follower of the No.57 association, is exactly as predicted from the Instagram photos. Clean, airy, unusual – an exposed ceiling and warm pantone colours greet you, whilst a sense of exclusivity is attached to the atmosphere. Table settings are minimal but sophisticated. And with only four tables occupied, it wasn’t very busy as I had anticipated. After waiting a while, a waiter presented us with the menus. One of the owners asked if we would like any help in ordering, a very unique touch.

No.57 Cafe - Abu DhabiNo.57 Cafe Menu

The menu is compact with breakfast a mix of sweet, savoury and side orders. For lunch there is a sharing option, coupled with starters, main courses and desserts. The open-plan kitchen is run by Irish chef Gavin Gleeson who moved across from Marco Pierre White’s Wheelers in Dubai. A cappuccino took twenty minutes to arrive and that was only after chasing. Rich in aroma and taste, but unfortunately not hot enough.

Omelette - No 57 CafeEggs Florentine - No 57 Cafe

I ordered the three egg herb omelette (an egg white option is also available) where you can choose your fillings – in my case tomatoes, veal bacon, cheese and mushrooms. My friend opted for poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, spinach and potato cake – basically a version of eggs Florentine, plus a side of hash browns. The poached eggs arrived with the hash browns, whilst I had to wait a few more minutes for my omelette – leaving one dish to get cold. My omelette was fluffy and tasty, but unfortunately undercooked in the centre. The fillings however were all fresh, vibrant, and flavoursome. The poached eggs on the other hand were cooked perfectly runny, and the spinach was a nice contrast to the potato cake base. The hollandaise sauce which can be tricky to get right, was velvety and smooth with a good consistency. The hash browns were crisp but I am certain were not homemade. We ordered more coffee which arrived in quick succession of our table being cleared.

Given my high expectations, I felt let down by the service and to an extent the food, so I think you would do well to wait a while for No.57 to settle in. With a bill of AED80 person, it offers excellent value for money though.

Have any of you dined at No.57, and how was your experience? I would love to hear from you.

I leave you with the wise words of John Gunther, “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”

Bon appétit.

Liesl.

So who’s guest reviewer Liesl? “I have been a chef for 20 (odd) years, incorporating my many travels and experience with an intense passion for food.  I have called Abu Dhabi my home for the last four years where I work as a private chef.  I love food, exploring new cultures and people. I will probably die doing what I enjoy best, and that is cooking!”

  • Al Marasy, Bateen Harbour, Abu Dhabi
  • +971 2 4416100
  • International
  • AED 80 per person
  • Open Sunday to Thursday 8am - 11pm and weekends 9am - midnight
  • http://www.no57.co/
  • Posted under
    Abu Dhabi, Breakfast, Cafes, International, Location, Restaurant Reviews

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9 Responses to “No.57 café – worth the wait?”

  1. Martina Barth December 9, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Another informative review Liesl. Wonderful to read, pity I don’t live in UAE but will put on my list to try if I ever visit

    • Liesl December 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Martina

      Thank you for dropping by to read the review. I hope that you get to experience No. 57 Café if you ever come to the UAE.

  2. N December 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Thankful for an honest review. I had such a disappointing experience there as well, but since it seemed like the whole UAE was going crazy for the cafe, I feared voicing my opinion 🙂 No doubt the space is stunning and beautifully executed down to the littlest details and aesthetics. But the food & service was quite the let down not only for me but also for all our fellow dining companions on the table. I ordered the lobster roll, I could’t even get a chunk of lobster in the entire sandwich. It was drowning in some sort of ketchup/mayo overwhelmingly spicy sauce. I did like the tuna on crispy rice, for me that was the only dish I enjoyed. The burger was soggy and the “signature dessert” so underwhelming. I imagined it based on instagram photos to be completely different, gooey and warm but it was cold and just average. I think diners in the UAE are so quick to say that any concept that’s new & different is just wow, because I couldn’t find one negative word on this place! No doubt this space wow’s on the decor, but everything else felt so underwhelming.

    • Liesl December 10, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Hi N

      Thank you for your informative feedback with regards to your experience at No. 57 Café. Firstly, I am sorry that you did not enjoy the restaurant. I think that voicing opinions is important, as this is constructive criticism. As a chef myself I have faced criticism, but I used that as a useful tool to better peoples experience and take into regard what they did not like. I think it is important for customers to voice if they were not happy, this helps the food industry to work on issues that might not be a good experience for a customer. I will visit No.57 Café in the near future again, as I believe my experience was not all bad.

      Liesl

  3. Nancy D'Souza December 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    It’s a shame to read that the cafe hasn’t lived up to its hype. I’ve also heard similar things about ‘Salt’ – both of which I’m yet to check out. Thanks Liesl, that was useful. I’d still like to go check it out though, perhaps few months from now.

    • Liesl December 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Hello Nancy

      Thank you for dropping by to read the review. I am pleased that you found the review informative and also that you will still be visiting No.57 Café. It’s all about having experiences and enjoying new places! Do let me know about your visit if/when you do go.

      Liesl

  4. Colm Carmody December 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Im surprised too see these reviews here especially N’s, i was brought to 57 by my partner a couple of weeks ago after she heard about the hype of the dinner club (i had never heard of such a thing until then).

    We had a great experience there, they did seem to be ironing out a few kinks alright but its early days yet and i think by standards elsewhere they were pretty on the ball. Staff were friendly and seemed genuine. We had breakfast there the fist time and i really enjoyed the different options and the choice was quite good although i did end up just doing my usual poached eggs with hollandaise sauce but my partner had the french toast witch was really good (not to my savoury taste for breakfast though). Coffee was served at the right temperature, not too hot and the juices were fresh squeezed.

    Service was good, we were in no rush and every thing seemed to come at the right pace for a chilled out Friday afternoon.
    I think what made it for me was the food was fresh at least and seemed like it was all made in house.

    we returned for lunch shortly after that and that was equally good. We didnt make any reservation as i didnt know that was an option but we had no problem getting a table walk in.

    i wish them all the best and hope to get over there again soon, its nice to have another eatery like this to visit in Abu Dhabi

  5. BB December 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    The food was excellent. For breakfast I had the breakfast burrito which was excellent. I could live on it for the rest of my life. I also had lunch there the lasagna was so good. Also, the chocolate milk was a delight.

  6. Liesl December 10, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Dear Colm

    Thank you for your feedback it is much appreciated. I am delighted to know that you have had a few wonderful experiences at No.57 Café. I do understand that the restaurant is new and as you say “ironing out a few kinks”. My experience was neither good or bad as mentioned in my mixed review. I will however be going back to No.57 Café in the near future as there are aspects about the restaurant that I did enjoy, however that being said, I will give them some time to settle in.

    Liesl

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.