Does Bu Trinity offer quality to justify the location and price?
When I dine out, I want great food, excellent wine, seamless service, and a stress-free journey to a practical location; all within a reasonable price range. I can compromise to some extent and some locations are simply worth the extra cost and time involved. Bu! Trinity (but we will just use ‘Bu’ from here on) in Abu Dhabi is not an easy location to find on your first visit. The website says it is on the fourth floor of the World Trade Centre Mall, but I do not know which entrance (WTC mall straddles either side of the street), nor do I know where the dedicated lift sits (past the normal mall elevators). This takes me to The Hub; a special dining corner at the back of this mall. Somehow, I feel out of place wandering through a mall full of local families, children and shoppers but eventually we make it to the Latin-American restaurant.
FooDiva has made her feelings known about intimidating hospitality and Bu attempt the VIP welcome with three alluring ladies at the door. The clamour of glamour is almost as scary as the doorman’s steely stare and I genuinely think we may get turned away. Once my wife’s name is cleared, the charm offensive begins but I would much prefer to just be welcomed pleasantly from the moment I am seen.
Service is immediately slick and helpful as the waitress introduces us to a knowledgeable sommelier from Nice who is keen to guide our choices from the considerable wine list (with a hefty mark-up on every level). I drink Chablis often, usually costing AED70-85 in most high-end restaurants; Bu charges AED115 for a glass of 2013 La Manufacture, which is too much for me. I opt for the slightly cheaper Sancerre (still AED90). The friendly service continues as the manager introduces herself and we get further background on the Latin-American cuisine. Every member of the kitchen influences the menu under the helm of a Mexican chef de cuisine to allow the different street-food styles to shape a genuine pan-Latin experience.
The dishes that we start with are the best of the night; the atun ceviche (tuna) and pulpo tiradito (octopus). The tuna is excitingly piquant, thanks to the Ecuadorian green aji, soy, wasabi and citrus flavours that engulf my tongue. The octopus is ever so slightly over-marinated but still delivers a mouthful of excitement with hints of garlic and paprika. The sommelier is on the money here as the Sancerre balances the acidity of the tuna as promised.
I like the flexibility of ordering courses as we please, this time opting for the cangrejo patacones (soft-shell crab plantain) and jerk costillas (Black Angus beef ribs). Again, the service is sharp and our glasses are never empty. The patacones combine crunchy textures from the soft crab with acidity from the pico de gallo (Mexican salsa). The beef looks magnificent and catches our eyes immediately with the marinade glistening under Bu’s mood lighting. The meat is tender and falls apart easily, but the overriding taste is of salt. LOTS of salt. Even the lively 2011 “Homestead” Pinot noir cannot wash away the lingering over-seasoning.
We decide to share the next course – costillas de corder (rack of lamb) with esparragos (Josper asparagus). The lamb arrives as four separate chops, cooked somewhere between rare and well-done – nicely caramelised with the rarer cuts of meat pleasantly tender but lost against a dominating salty marinade. Something sweet, maybe honey-glazed carrots, would offset the salt but as a standalone dish the errors are obvious.
In hindsight, we should have ordered more of the raw seafood dishes and had this not been a review we may have left before desserts. But instead we order three; choco chilli mango, buñuelos (fried dough balls) and caipirinha. The chocolate chilli mango is the stand-out dessert with oozing chocolate sauce complementing a velvety mousse cake and a tangy mango sorbet. The buñuelos are crispy and filled with a yuzu-esque cream – but accompaniments of a berry compote, coffee ice-cream and a hibiscus syrup are unnecessary – reminiscent of a cook in a competition who is trying too hard to impress. Get rid of one (or two) of these elements and let the dough balls and fruit sing for themselves.
Had we restricted ourselves to a small plate, a larger plate and a dessert each (based on three courses) we would have paid AED315 per person (without alcohol). The tapas nature of Bu means you must order far more to fill your tummy, and so can expect to pay an average of AED80 per extra dish. I will pay almost anything for great food and great wine but something about Bu holds me back from committing my wallet to what is on offer.
Bu is a great place to unwind after work with a large party in a vibrant atmosphere. The huge interior is industrial chic throughout with a separate bar area that offers under-lighting that makes customers seem even edgier and cooler than they already might be. The DJ deck dominates the floor space and the layout is ideal for mingling. From the waitress to the manager to the sommelier, it is clear that they all understand the food and the Bu concept. This adds to the quality of the service and gives you confidence that you are being well-looked after. However, the excellent service and buzzing atmosphere are hampered by the overall food quality, hard-to-reach location and the high price point to give a FooDiva knife rating of an average 3 out of 5.
Should the quality of the food and location be of similar or greater value than the service and vibe?
Until next time,
Who is Matt? A newly-married teacher with an obsession for French wine and fine dining, he loves nothing more than trying new restaurants and dishes with his wife and friends. Travel plans are always made around food and he can remember what he was doing on any given day by recalling the meal that he ate. His favourite chefs are Adam Handling from the UK, followed closely by Michel Roux Jr. and Nathan Outlaw.
— FooDiva (@FooDivaWorld) June 6, 2016