My friend and I decided to try out the Shabby Chic cafe for breakfast last week.
It was the name that attracted us towards the cafe. When everything in UAE seems all shiny and new, sometimes, you miss a little bit of wear and tear.
Shabby Chic with its cosy interiors captures the essence of familiarity and comfort by combining old with new.
The same qualities are reflected in their menu: comfort, nutrition, freshness and familiarity. It is a quintessence of health and indulgence.
We were welcomed by the hospitable staff and the owner Zaher Ammar, who told us a bit about the concept of the cafe.
Shabby Chic Cafe was established in 2010 and has since then hosted many cultural events one being the Echoes Abu Dhabi every month.
Echoes Abu Dhabi group hosts a talent evening once a month at Shabby Chic cafe where various artists perform and entertain the guests.
The event mirrors perfectly with the interiors and the menu of the eatery.
With music instruments and music players placed across the cafe and serving international cuisine, this cafe has something to cater to everyone’s taste and liking.
We decided to go for the traditional Emarati breakfast and picked the one-pan Shakshouka and their newly introduced item Terwi’a plate. I thought of tasting the Pain perdu as well, as it looked really appetising on the menu photo, plus I have been trying the French toast wherever I go for breakfast lately!
What we liked about the menu was that it had the kcal of every dish written next to it.
Everything Shabby Chic Cafe serves is cooked fresh and you can taste the wholesomeness in the food. Hence the food takes a little time, unlike many places that prepare in advance and heat up in the microwave before serving.
Cooking food once the order is placed gives them the liberty to alter it according to the customers liking.
Our meals arrived. The Arabic breakfast items were served with the whole wheat flatbreads. We dived into the food with our hands as it is supposed to be eaten!
The three poached eggs nestled in a fragrant ruddy bed tasted as delicious as it looked. The Shakshouka was fresh and the tomato sauce added a rich flavour to the dish.
The Terwi’a plate, which is one of the star dishes according to the chef, had foul beans, halloumi cheese sticks, labneh, fresh salad and zattar served with flatbread as well. The foul beans were saporous and the spices were very well balanced. What I liked about the zattar was that its flavour was not overpowering or sharp. It was ideally spiced.
Chef Walter Quadros leads the eatery’s kitchen. I got a chance to chitchat with him while enjoying his freshly cooked meals.
I asked him to tell us a bit about the menu and what inspired him to create something that would fit everyone’s taste buds. “I am trained in continental cuisine,” replied Chef Walter. “However, I have travelled a lot during my career as a chef and explored foods from different countries. That’s how the menu that I have created for Shabby Chic comprises of different flavours.”
“We have some Mexican dishes, a bit of Asian flavours, then we have Oriental food items as well and Arabic too. The best thing is that I can alter an item in the menu according to the flavour that the customer prefers. for instance if someone doesn’t want an Arabic version of shakshouka I can make an Asian variant with different spices and chillies,” he elaborated.
Another fast moving item from the menu according to him is their grilled salmon, which is imported from Alaska served like a stake on a bed of quinoa or couscous, depending on the customer.
Finally, I had to dig into the most enticing food item kept in front of me: the pain perdu, as the French call it.
Served with maple syrup, this soft, flavourful and rightly sweetened dish will definitely be on my top 5 French toasts list!
“I used to work on a cruise ship as a breakfast Chef. It was a floating university,” said Chef Walter as he shared the story behind his excellent French toast.
“I used to make French toast for 2000 people every day at 4 am. then used to stand at the omelette station at 7 am and prepare 2000 omelettes. It was a tedious task. I used to burn my hands and cry every day but that experience taught me a lot. It also taught me how to work under pressure.”
It sure did teach the Chef how to perfect the French toast!
We left the place satiated and inspired. It is a small cafe run by passionate people, who have a vision for this eatery and love hosting their customers.
So next time when you are feeling nostalgic and looking for comfort food don’t forget to pop by at Shabby Chic cafe and feel at home.