The Rodeo Grill is one of a number of restaurants open to the public within the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi. As in most of the United Arab Emirates, alcohol is not served outside hotels, so its clientele – in keeping with its neighbouring establishments, tends toward tourists and foreign business people. The Rodeo is an American-style steak house serving grills and seafood, with the slightest of non-committal nods in the direction of vegetarians.
The décor is American-inspired, with a variety of seating to accommodate all tastes (including armchairs, more traditional tables and booths). In keeping with most hotel establishments, the staff speak excellent English and service tends to be attentive (even slightly intrusive) but impeccable. The menu is mercifully brief, concentrating mainly on steaks, which are served with two different types of sauces (including Béarnaise, mushroom and green peppercorn) and two sides from a lengthy list of alternatives.
Prices, like most hotel establishments in the Emirates, are eye-wateringly expensive, with appetisers around GBP £15/USD $25, main courses at £30/$50 and deserts at £10/$15. The restaurant serves a wide variety of alcoholic drinks, with well known wine labels across a range of budgets and bottled American and European lagers. We ordered two bottles of beer and a large sparkling water, which was served and deposited in an ice bucket to keep it cold.
Weary from our long-haul flight from the UK, and not wanting to overdo it before going to bed, we decided to skip the appetisers, and both of us ordered the 300g ribeye – one medium and the other rare. These were to be accompanied by market vegetables, chunky fries, gratin potatoes and a mixed salad (i.e. two sides each).
A few minutes after placing our order we were served a “carousel” of fresh bread – six individual buns of different bread baked together to make one loaf. It was warm and delicious and quickly devoured. While we were busy scoffing the bread, we were each delivered an “amuse bouche” of a soft salmon concoction dressed with salad leaves and a reduced balsamic vinegar dressing. It was an unexpected and successful surprise.
The main courses arrived fairly quickly and were garnished with some satisfyingly chunky (if a little oily) fried onion rings and a baked tomato. The rare ribeye was tender, flavourful and cooked to perfection– the lack of blood on the plate testament to the fact that it had been hung and aged properly. It was almost a travesty to assault it with the Béarnaise sauce, but even that was well balanced, complementing the meat rather than dominating it.
We declined puddings in favour of coffee, which was served with a pair of round chocolate balls, which looked very much like truffles. However, I was mildly surprised when I bit in to one and found that the dark chocolate contained a centre of lemon sorbet. A chilly, but enjoyable shock that also served as an effective palate cleanser and full stop to a well constructed meal.
Once you get past the expense of eating in the Emirates, and start comparing offerings not on expense, but on culinary merit, it’s easier to recommend the Rodeo Grill as a great option for the incorrigible carnivore. The service and food are top notch, but the restaurant itself lacks a little ambience and atmosphere despite (or perhaps because of) the themed décor -which seems an odd contrast to the white-robed Emirati’s sipping coffee and tea in the hotel atrium, just beyond its entrance.