Location: Armada Blue Hotel, JLT
Pricing: AED 345 all-inclusive
I drink when I have occasion, and sometimes when I have no occasion.
~Miguel de Cervantes
The instant I walk into Cocktail Kitchen (CK) I am immediately impressed with their interior design. The combination of light wood, grey stone, and turquoise paint is tres chic. The sexy long bar stretches across the entire restaurant, boasting a wide array of macho copper bar tools. The lighting, décor, and vinyl DJ set oozes cool.
This Italian concept dates as far back as the late 1700s, by the creator of vermouth, Signor Antonio Carpano. What is vermouth you ask? Vermouth is a type of fortified wine flavored with various botanicals. More importantly it is the key ingredient to many classic cocktails such the Martini, the Manhattan, and the Negroni.
Eight hungry crossfitters join me after an intense morning beach workout to test the new Vinyl Brunch, which was launched in April 2016. The drinks menu is separated into 8 categories: Vermouth, Spritz (a wine-based cocktail), Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Spirits and soft drinks. I begin with a vermouth (served on the rocks with a splash of soda) and select 1 of the 7 Spritz options ‘Thyme after Thyme’. This is my first time drinking vermouth in this style and I am instant fan. The spritz is refreshing and the drinks combine to ignite my appetite, so I request the friendly servers to bring us 1 portion of each appetizer to be shared by the table. Soon after one plate of a Spanish omelet, benedict jumbo croissant, Popeye salad, beef carpaccio, burratta, lamb brochettes, and fritto misto arrive to the table. In a flash of an eye the food vanishes into thin air, and I begin to comprehend the power of aperitivos. Each of the appetizers is well balanced and equally well executed, so we order another round of each to enjoy. Vermouth and Spritz continue to flow rapidly from the bar to the table as each person attempts to try every variety to discover their favorite drink (I am torn between the ‘thyme after thyme’ and ‘not a shred of saffron’).
The table unanimously votes to continue the sharing concept and we order 1 portion of each of the nine main dishes. The clear favorites are the leg of lamb and the roast beef. The vegetable lasagna deserves a special mention but the paella and risotto disappoint. Desserts are light and refreshing and include a chocolate & berry semifreddo, apple terrine, and fresh fruit.
At 4pm while we settle the bill we are delighted to discover that CK have a happy hour from 4-8pm where we can enjoy the same brunch drink menu for AED 19 per drink. This encourages us to stick around and practice our dance moves to the funky vinyl records. Cocktail Kitchen is a throwback to what the true essence of a restaurant is about: a place where good friends meet to share good food & good drinks.
Value for Money: 20/20.