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FACT Review: Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain

This chic new venue transports diners from Yas Marina to the French Riviera.

When it comes to dinner and a show, Dubai has been leading the charge when it comes to all things fun and frivolous, offering nightly spectacles that combine live entertainment with visual spectacle and a feast for the senses. Whilst the capital is yet to catch the trend, one Abu Dhabi venue is the exception, championing live music and laid-back glamour in the heart of Yas Marina.

Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain takes over the site formally occupied by Mr Miyagi’s and The Scene, completely transforming the mundane venues into something altogether elegant. Inspired by the Jazz Age of the French Riviera, Penelope’s is essentially a stylish outdoor terrace, where monochrome upholstery matches the linear floor tiling, and fluttering parasols complemented by pressed white table linens set the scene for a dinner show with a difference.

Penelope’s Review

Whilst fancy French food executed with finesse and an expertly crafted cocktail menu are both reasons enough to visit Penelope’s. It’s after 7pm when the live music starts that you’ll want to secure your reservation. Guests can expect to be entertained by a team of talented jazz musicians throughout the night, which on our weekend visit included members of Cuba’s acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club and Penelope’s co-founder, Layla Kardan

The beauty of a dinner at Penelope’s is that it can be as casual (salad, pasta and crispy calamari) or as boujee (oysters, caviar and lobster) as you desire. We begin with the Onion Tarte Flambé (AED 55), which features a thin base topped with tomato and beautifully sweet caramelised onions, before moving on to the Escargots (AED 85) with brioche and herbed butter. Whilst some diners may be perturbed by snails, these gastropods have been removed from their shells and impeccably plated in a pretty circular design for easy consumption. Elsewhere, the robust and flavourful Wagyu Beef Tartare (AED 110) served with jalapeño focaccia is an absolute delight. In fact, we challenge you to find a tastier beef tartare in the capital.

Penelope’s Review

For the main course, we gleefully devour the oven-roasted whole sea bream (AED 220). Presented butterflied but with the head on, the flesh is light and flaky and requires minimal embellishment, allowing the quality of the fish to shine through. The signature Lobster Linguine (AED 195) offers generous chunks of the delicate shellfish presented within the crustacean’s shell amidst perfectly al dente ribbons of pasta and a rich tomato sauce. 

Penelope’s dessert menu may only contain six sweet treats, but it’s the Chocolate Fondant (AED 60) that firmly had our hearts. This must-order dish is a finale to match the crescendo of the music on stage. Expect a hot chocolate fondant that is as heartwarming as it is decadent, offset with a luscious scoop of ice cream. 

Penelope’s Review

Penelope’s is the brainchild of renowned restaurateurs Hamdan Al Khafaji (La Carnita), Layla Kardan (Papillon Dubai) and Eddie Ghazal (Canary Club), and the influence of these three F&B powerhouses is evident. Every touchpoint – from the service to the setting – is executed with such precision and passion that we can’t help but be impressed. Throw in a reasonable price point and some excellent cocktails (don’t miss the Penicillin or P&P), and this labour of love truly makes its mark.

Penelope’s Review

Backed by glittering marina views, Penelope’s Brasserie & Jazz Bar Américain brings a sense of style and sophistication sorely missing from the capital. So if you’re after a dinner show that is all talent and no gimmicks, then Penelope’s is for you.

GO: Visit www.penelopes.ae or call 052 221 0097 for reservations and more information.

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David Tapley - Editor-in-Chief
As editor-in-chief of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publication, David is a self-proclaimed hip-hop aficionado, championing all things food, travel, street art, and streetwear across the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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