Saturday, December 25, 2010

It is, after all, December. And on the terrasse of Café Santé as the sun began to set being the Emirates Palace there was a breeze which was frankly quite cool. Less than ideal for continued reading but perfect for a leisurely stroll. 

By taking a zig-zag route I managed to fill a couple of hours, exploring some parts of the city where I hadn't walked for a long, long time.

Nevertheless I was one of the first Christmas Eve diners to arrive at Le Beaujolais. And I finally took a photo of the unprepossessing exterior. The simple shop-front aspect is misleading. Entrance to the restaurant is through the lobby of one of the more modest Abu Dhabi hotels, the Novotel.

I am eternally grateful that the Accor has neglected to 'renovate'... with Sandlands bling... the dining room which still looks as if it could be on a side street in a small French town.

Although the place was empty when I arrived it soon filled up with guests who, like me, had booked in advance. And a good few people were turned away, people who had possibly learned just what excellent value to festive menu offered... five tasty and very creative courses for the equivalent of just 36 Euros.

The pleasure of the evening was completed by the discreet performance of an accordionist and singer who chose not a traditional Christmas repertoire but the French popular classics from Piaf to Trenet, Brassens to Brel. 

And I was reminded of the many Christmas Eves I spent in Paris. There it was hard for a single who relied on restaurants, for it was difficult to avoid hugely expensive reveillons de Noel. There was, as I recall, a very sterile Sheraton near the Montparnasse railway station where the coffee shop was completely devoid of seasonal decoration. The food was crap, but with the right paperback to read I was more or less content. In the forty years since then the food has certainly improved!

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